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Developer: Hocobi
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

On the surface, Killing Zone Defense is just your run of the mill tower defense game, but that’s the beauty of it. It doesn’t try too hard to be quirky or unique, it sticks to just what you could want from such a game and achieves it with style.

Telling the story of Pennsylvanian resident, John and his plight to save what’s left of his town and its people, Killing Zone Defense offers just enough story to intrigue. Gameplay itself will be immediately familiar to fans of Plants vs. Zombies. It’s remarkably similar. Starting with just poor John on his own to the left of the screen, the zombies come at you from the right, slowly but steadily. Fortunately John starts out with a set of throwing knives to fling at the undead horde. There’s also the added advantage that the zombies drop money as they die. Enter the upgrade system you’d expect from a Tower Defense game.

Adding a big dose of originality though, there is a catch with the upgrade system. You also gain experience and level up, which in turn enables you to purchase new weapons such as the humble revolver, the mightier assault rifle or the fearsome ice gun freezing foes in their path. There’s six weapons in all as well as two unique skills which can be unlocked through levelling up. A steady unlock system ensures that you never feel overpowered, keeping the game challenging but not hideously difficult. As you progress, John also has help in the form of other survivors each with their own background story.

They also have their own unique skills ensuring that everyone’s useful in their own way, whether it be through offering money bonuses, health injections or through gun turrets that boost your firepower. It feels refreshing, being able to have so many options in how you want to use your money. You’re not restricted to just upgrading weapons as buying and upgrading gun turrets might be equally as important. It’s down to you to figure out your success. It’s a strategic element that I haven’t seen be implemented quite so well since Plants vs. Zombies. Time management elements emerge when it comes to needing to reload increasingly often. Indeed, this gets a bit frantic when you’ve got a screen full of zombies and five survivors to look out for. If just one of them dies, it’s game over.

With 50 stages in all as well as the survival mode, there’s plenty of value in Killing Zone Defense’s small package, especially for the price. If I was going to nitpick, I’d have liked GameCenter support as well as the OpenFeint support already offered but that’s a minor niggle in an otherwise flawless title.

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