Developer: Halfbrick Studios
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4
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In an age where games become successful on the iOS and later receive the port treatment to lesser platforms like the PSP, one game dares to reverse the tide. At a time when portable titles are reaching out to families and children, one man has the pills to spew obscenities to his black & pixelized heart’s content. Facing an overwhelming push for realism in gaming, one studio chooses to stand their ground and let you fight dinosaurs and cyborgs within minutes of each other. The game? Age of Zombies. The Man? Barry Steakfries. The Developer? Halfbrick Studios. No matter how you look at it, this a combination that dreams are made of. So are you ready to climb into the time warp?
To try to pin down a lead character like Barry Steakfries would be like trying to unicycle backwards in commuter traffic. It may be possible, but it could just as likely result in your demise. He is part man, part myth, and all enigma. This is the kind of person that would shoot you in the face first, ask questions later, and then send your apology flowers to the wrong funeral home. A no-nonsense kind of guy with a streak of absentminded meathead, Barry is on a mad hunt for Professor Brains, and he is taking no prisoners. The only way you can tell where Steakfries has been are the pools of blood, piles of shell casings and the lingering stench of cheesy one-liners that he leaves in his wake. Just be sure you don’t ever meet him face to face, because if he doesn’t blow it off, you are in store for a verbal tongue lashing of the most profane variety.
In his hunt for brains, Professor Brains that is (yes, that is purposeful irony), Barry finds himself traipsing through every era from the pre-historic to the post historic and everything else in between. Whether he is telling mobsters in the 1930′s to “fuggetaboudit” or cutting through samurai in Feudal Japan, you can rest assured that no stone will remain unturned, no corpse unmutilated. The trick is in how he navigates each generically designed battlefield. Sure, they may look fairly similar, but the humor and personality applied to each era is both unique and helps to further bring them to life, an amusing counter to the lack of enemies with actual brainwaves.
Players will control Mr. Steakfries using standard dual stick controls. Each joystick adjusts to being directly under the thumb, no matter where it is moved, proving a significant upgrade over the face buttons of the prior outing on PlayStation Portable. Despite the refined input option, there is still one significant snag: the special weapon items, which are mapped to a button located slightly above the right joystick. If the move to fire the special items is not made quickly, the game sometimes things that you are simply moving the location of the stick itself, completely undermining the purpose of the flexible control scheme to begin with. This minor inconvenience aside, the movement is responsive and precise, making for a very enjoyable experience.
Lest we neglect the arsenal of weaponry, the selection is fairly limited. There are five or six randomly generated firearms that are spawned throughout the course of the adventure, but that is not to say that they are ineffective in dispatching of undead. Each item has its own heft, sound, ammunition spray and rate of fire, but it feels like something is being held back. Maybe that is being saved for DLC?
It won’t take players long to be ready for a sequel either, because Barry’s trip through time, as enjoyable as it may be, is disappointingly brief. Fortunately there is a survival mode and leaderboards for each era to further extend the life of this shockingly solid title. With the addition of full GameCenter functionality, players can dismember their way to the top of their friends list in no time.
On a device where solid gameplay is king and dialog is an afterthought, it is refreshing to see something that epitomizes the full package. If only Age of Zombies were a little bit longer – it has the repetitive, yet solid hook, that can keep you coming back for more. Rambo ain’t got nothing on Barry Steakfries. Here’s to hoping that Barry gets just as many sequels.
Tagged with: Age of Zombies, Barry Steakfries, Halfbrick Studios, Professor Brains, review