Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
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From the developers of Redneck Fishin’, iZombie: Death March is an original third person shooter zombie slaying extravaganza.
As you begin, your character wakes up to the sound of a zombie horde outside of his home, the walls shaking with their groans for your brains. You must make a choice: join the undead army, or fight. You fight.
From the start, iZombie: Death March gives the player 3 different difficulty settings: Easy, Normal, and Death Wish. Feeling bold? As you move up in difficulty, so are the zombies. With higher difficulties you will encounter larger and faster moving hordes. The only thing worse than zombies, is fast zombies. Battle your way through the Death Wish difficulty and you will unlock the Nightmare difficulty. If you are skilled enough to survive Nightmare, you will be rewarded with unlockable weapons and cheats that allow you to go back and lay down some good ol’ fashion justice on the living dead, sending them back to the grave where they belong.
Over the course of the 6 stages, the player will encounter traditional zombies, demon dogs (Resident Evil, anyone?), flying skulls, chainsaw wielding behemoths, and mama. You will encounter the undead in the forest outside your home, bunkers, and on the road. Your weapon of choice will vary depending on the level, though your aim will remain the same - shoot for the head. The top-down mechanic of the game gives the player an overhead vantage of the battlefield, sometimes only lit by a tiny cone of light from the character’s flashlight. Throughout each level your character remains in a static position on the screen and will turn or rotate to shoot zombies which are headed towards himself or others; this is accomplished by tapping your finger either in the direction of the zombie to shoot in the general vicinity or by tapping directly on the zombie for a head shot. If you fail to kill a zombie before it gets to close or one of the sneaky bastards creeps up on you, the game will give you a brief moment to redeem yourself by lighting the area immediately around the player with a red glow, slowing any zombies to a crawl - this will give you time to get off one, maybe two shots before it’s too late. Only once you have managed to defeat the horde are you able to progress to the next chapter.
On the technical side, iZombie: Death March is quite an impressive game. The artwork style is quite the departure from some of Sonic Boom’s other work, and is very well executed. Dynamic lighting paired with well textured environments make for quite a visually appealing experience. Remains from slain zombies remain on screen throughout the level, adding a small degree of depth which has all too often been overlooked in many games where objects are made to disappear for performance reasons. Every once in a while you’ll manage taking off a limb before the zombies hit the ground; needless to say, awesome. Calls for brains are paired with barks from the hellacious demon dogs, the blasts from your gun, and explosions. Conspicuously absent? The sound of shuffling footsteps. Lumbering zombies should make lots of noise as they move, and groan more. This would be especially helpful in some of the levels where visibility is limited, particularly if in stereo with a set of headphones plugged in.
The major limitation of iZombie: Death March lies in the fact that the game is incredibly short. While slaying zombies rarely gets old, high replay value in a game that can be beaten in under half an hour can be a big challenge. Completing every difficulty setting in under an hour and a half is easily achievable. The “short” feeling you get from playing through the 6 stages could be counterbalanced by perhaps having more unlockables, achievements (survive an endless onslaught for so long, etc), or of course more levels. For an otherwise strong game, brevity ends up being the main detractor.
All said and done, the question that I’m sure has been plaguing you from the beginning - is it worth it? Absolutely. When looked at from the perspective of the fact that you’ve probably paid more for an arcade game that only gives you so many lives or so much time to play, the $0.99 is well worth it, especially when coupled with the fact that it’ll be tough to set down until you beat it.