Alive 4 Ever
Meridian combines tons of zombie-killing action and role-playing elements into a surprisingly cheap iPhone game. Bring it on.
Zombie apocalypses have become predictable. Some pharmaceutical company "accidentally" unleashes a deadly virus that has an effect on the citizens of some small, remote city. To avoid a situation that could lead to panic, the government brings in specialists to eradicate the threat before it has any chance to spread. Sound familiar? Well, that's the sort of plot that Alive 4 Ever for the iPhone follows, but we don't mind for two reasons. It's incredibly cheap and a lot of fun.
The game is played from a top-down perspective, using two on-screen sticks to control character movement and aiming. You'll need to move quickly, as zombies come at you from every direction. They start out moving at a slow pace and dropping dead after taking a few bullets. Over the course of the game, though, they become much more dangerous, multiplying and increasing in size and speed. Along the way, you'll also need to recover survivors before they become zombie snacks.
Alive 4 Ever features several characters, including veteran SWAT team members with weapon skills and civilians forced into battle in order to stay alive. Each person has specific attributes and firearms, so it's best to try them all out to see which one best suits you. Over the course of the game, you'll complete secondary tasks, such as rescuing more survivors, which can earn you extra cash. You then turn this around to boost your skills, such as reloading speed and accuracy, among other things.
Some of the elements in Alive 4 Ever aren't entirely original. The big zombies and "leech" zombies are clear rip-offs from Valve's Left 4 Dead series, while the zombie mutts and storyline seem ripped straight from Capcom's Resident Evil. Lack of originality aside, the game's a lot of fun to play. The dual-stick controls are easy to learn, and you'll blast heads no time.
Single player's cool, but if you really want to get the most out of Alive 4 Ever, you'll want to bring a friend along. The game supports local Bluetooth play, allowing you to work alongside a friend in co-op. Online play would've been nice for those who don't have friends close by, but we'll certainly take local options over none at all.
Graphics-wise, the game looks decent. You can't see the entire stage at once, which makes it easy for zombies to creep up on you when you're not looking. However, that adds to the overall intensity, so we won't complain. The animations are superb, especially the blood splatters. Shoot a zombie in the head with a shotgun and you'll see a blob of the red stuff spill onto the floor. The hero characters don't look that different, and there could've been more variety in the stages, but overall, it's a good-looking gorefest.
As for the music and sound effects, they're typical for a zombie shooter. The moans and groans never get tiring, and the cinematic score is very fitting considering the content. We just wish it picked up in tempo as more zombies filled the screen.
No, it's not original, and you can't bring any long-distance friends into the battle via online play. But Alive 4 Ever is one hell of a bargain for a buck. That's right, you get excellent gameplay, numerous upgrade options and gallons of blood for a dollar. You know you want it.
What's Hot: Twin-stick controls, local co-op multiplayer, RPG elements let you upgrade your weapons and skills accordingly, there's plenty of gore.
What's Not: Steals a few ideas from Left 4 Dead and Resident Evil 5, no online multiplayer.