Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4, iPad 2
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Zombieville USA 2 is essentially a zombie beat 'em up game. Players run along a 2D plane, trying to survive as long as possible from the ever-growing and strengthening zombie hordes. To help ward off the zombie invasion, players get to use three weapons, and three passive skills that can influence health, damage, and item pickups. Money can be collected from zombie corpses and things like mailboxes and street lamps to spend on new weapons, skills, and upgrades.
This is how to do a classical beat 'em up on iOS. The structure is perfect: the missions are short-term experiences and are very challenging. The ability to earn new weapons and skills helps out a lot in adding replay value, along with extra character skins. There's nothing quite like murdering zombies as a goth girl. Also great is the fact that there's online co-op through Game Center. This is possibly the game's killer feature; cooperative play just makes beat 'em ups far better, and online play makes it happen more often! Also, this universal app has iCloud support for progress syncing. It works perfectly out of the gate (which is something that Scribblenauts Remix and Shantae: Risky's Revenge couldn't say, though both work after updates to fix the functionality), and works just as it should; launch the game on a different platform, and the character, weapons, skills, and money are all there with no delay.
Beating a level doesn't actually have any reward, beyond just satisfaction that it's completed; some kind of notable bonus or indicator of completion would be great. In fact, while future levels with new zombies unlock, there really isn't actually any kind of rigid progression structure at all. Advancement in the game is all largely just for the player's amusement. Interestingly, the game doesn't actually have in-app purchases for more money! This almost seems like a lost revenue stream, and I wouldn't be surprised if it came in a future update, though it's almost refreshing to see a game not include this.
Zombies as a cultural phenomenon may run the risk of being passe' and overdone very soon (My prediction? The zombie bubble collapses when a broadcast TV network decides to make their own ripoff of The Walking Dead), but thankfully Zombieville USA 2 does a great job at interpreting a classical genre in the modern era. Beat 'em ups just don't work as direct translations from the arcade (see Final Fight); it takes a proper adaptation like this game to do it right.