Version Reviewed: 1.15
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There are so many tower defense games in the App Store that it really takes a unique idea to make one stand out. Tall Chair, Inc., had a fantastic idea for Cowboys vs. Zombies: have a bunch of dumb cowboys defend a small western town from a hoard of incoming zombies. You can place cowboys anywhere you want basically -- on buildings, on the ground, in formations -- just don't let the zombies take over.
I like this. Well, I like the premise; the resulting game is a bit sloppy. Just like any other tower defense game, you get waves and waves of enemies coming at you, and it is up to you to make an unstoppable defense barrier with your towers... er, cowboys. You start with the basic gunslinger, but then move on to shotgun cowboys and so on. Each cowboy can be upgraded three times, which increases his fire rate and range.
The problem that CvZ runs into is with its view perspective. Instead of being a top down view point layout, or even having a slanted view like Tower Madness, it gives you a 3rd person view, making it seem like the zombies are really coming at you. The problem with this is that the placement of the cowboys revolves around depth, and the best way to kill a group of enemies is to create a flat line of defense. You want maximum stopping power in this game, and the only way to get it is by forcing a bunch of cowboys to be grouped together. The game strategy soon goes from using the whole town and all the buildings to hide on top of, to making a line of cowboys in front of everything, skipping the parts that would make the game great. Just stack as many people as you can as close as you can and hope for the best.
This devolution of tower defense strategy unfortunately masks the joy of the games great sense of style. Everything in the game, from the dumb cowboys to the even dumber zombies has charm, and the menu screens, as well as the games tutorial, are fantastic. If you take away the actual gameplay, I would give CvZ a five star review.
With its high level of polish and fun graphics, it's hard not to recommend CvZ, but it just isn't that enjoyable past a few levels. The whole system, in my opinion, needs to be reworked to make better use of the western town. CvZ just doesn't do enough to make it worthwhile.