Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies
Turn undead freaks to mush while holding down the fort, but can you survive alone?
The trailer for Activision's latest iPhone and iPad release, Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies, lacks footage of four-person multiplayer. Seems apropos, since online play doesn't work.
Yes, the most touted feature is currently offline, at least for the moment. That also means you cannot experience voice chat, one of the more revolutionary additions to the experience, at least as far as App Store games go.
Instead, we'll just have to review Blacks Ops Zombies for its single player content, which, admittedly, is quite good.
If you played the Zombies mode in the console version of Black Ops or Call of Duty: World at War, then you already know what to expect. If not, it goes a little something like this: you, either alone or with up to three other players, fend off progressively difficult waves of zombies, pausing to board up windows and using points acquired from kills to open up new sections of the map and purchase different weapons, including a shotgun, single shot rifle and AK-47, among others.
Anarchy ensues, as hordes of flesh eating undead pour through openings and attack en masse. Teamwork is key, as gamers man different posts and help those in need before they become a snack for some brain-munching creature.
To that end, this first person shooter is a lot of fun, given the limitations of the hardware. Heads explode into chunks, blood spews forth and a handful of upgrades (max ammo, carpenter, instant kill) add a cool layer of arcade shenanigans to the mix. Wrestling with dual analog sticks takes a backseat to having a more tangible controller in your hands (and the tilt controls don't work well at all), but you should have little trouble maneuvering through the game's single map, Kino Der Toten, weaving between gangs of monsters. Just be sure to have a "Revive" item handy, in case everything goes to hell.
In case you missed what we said two sentences ago, Black Ops Zombies does indeed come with just one map, with more on the way, but there's no word from Activision when that'll happen.
Thankfully, the game also includes Dead-Ops Arcade, a 50 level top down shooter that'll keep you busy for a couple of hours. It requires little thought, as you wander through different locales gunning down zombies with a small variety of weapons (mini gun, rocket launcher), but it's a great way to pass the time nonetheless.
As for the visuals, we've seen much better on both "i" devices, specifically Gameloft's Modern Combat 3, but considering the sheer size of the environment and the high number of characters the developers shove on screen (without a dip in frame rate), the graphics get the job done. The only thing that bugs us is the strange looking fog that appears alongside the possessed dogs. Ugly stuff.
At $6.99, Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies is a tough sell. Plenty of other games offer more content for that price (or less). What's more, having just one map and no online play definitely hurts this title's appeal. Worth the dough if you're a high roller. Otherwise, wait for additional maps and online co-op.
[Editor's Note: The score reflects our opinion of the game in its current state. That may change once Activision flips the online switch.]
Review code provided by Activision.
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.
What's Hot: Plenty of zombies to blast, a variety of cool weapons, huge map, Black-Ops Arcade, comic book presentation, universal support, local play.
What's Not: Online doesn't work, only one map, weird looking fog, $6.99.