A fun game that's weighed down by its in-app purchase systems.
We've got zombie games aplenty, we've certainly no shortage of endless-runners and (as Chris's review of the thoroughly entertaining Plague Inc. shows) there are even games of mass infection and destruction to be enjoyed on the App Store. Zombie Ace combines all three of these game styles together into a lighthearted, diseased road-trip across the country.
You're tasked with transporting a plane-load of zombies across the United States in order to infect as much of the population as possible. You only have a limited amount of fuel though, and so you'll need to pick up enough of the cash that litters each city as you travel from left to right, dodging game-ending objects, assaulting fighter jets with your cargo of zombies, in order to upgrade your plane in the game shop. It's all good silly fun and a lot "busier" than the typical endless-runner.
You press lightly on the screen in order to gain altitude and let go in order to descend. This navigation needs to be combined with firing some of your zombie characters at enemy jets by tapping on them, although you'll also need to scoop your buddies up in their parachutes once the enemy goes down or you'll be vulnerable to the next assault. Should a jet survive for too long, it'll eventually zoom towards the left hand side of the screen, ending your turn if you collide with it.
Make it to a new city with enough fuel in the tank though and you'll have the chance to drop into the airport and spread your zombie infection onto a whole new population, totting up the cash you've earned during the run and throwing it all into the pot so you can upgrade your plane for the next attempt.
In this upgrade store, you can either add a little more aerodynamic pizazz to you wings in order to improve agility, increase the size of your fuel tank which will allow you to progress further towards the game's furthest cities, or simply upgrade your fuselage to pack in more assaulting zombies.
We're torn on the way that Zombie Ace monetizes itself though. It's true that you can buy upgrades with in-game cash only, and that you can acquire the hard-currency "brains" which confer meatier upgrades by watching adverts rather than spending real money, but it all seems like an overbearing assault on both your senses and the enjoyment of the game.
On the one hand, it's a very inclusive system that allows those younger players without access to real money a way to "earn" their way to greater progress. Alternatively you might find it rather sinister that such a captivating advertising tool is utilized in this way. You may also simply find that the constant requests to watch game trailers are just plain irritating. You can decline watching these adverts (albeit with a delay), but there's an unavoidable and nagging sense that the developer is trying to have several cakes at once and eat all of them simultaneously.
Despite the awkward business model propping up Zombie Ace, it's a good game that brings some very welcome freshness to the current, stale avalanche of endless-runner games. There's no getting away from the pervasiveness of the in-app purchase system though, and it can't help but detract somewhat from the game in the final evaluation.
What's Hot: Some welcome variety in a genre that's becoming rather tired. There's always plenty of action going on, even at the early stages of the game.
What's Not: The in-app purchase system is far too aggressive and pervasive.