Zombies are everywhere, not just running around during the Halloween time of year. Thanks to the popularity of shows such as The Walking Dead and movies like Resident Evil, 28 Days Later, and many others, we have zombies running amok year-round. For me, that is perfectly fine. Dead Ahead Zombie Warfare by Mobirate Ltd is not your typical mobile zombie game.
Unlike the countless other zombie games to see release on mobile, Dead Ahead is more of a strategy title than a blast-a-thon. I had to do this review because our #1 fan, Jeff Jones Jr requested it. There is one thing I absolutely do, and that is answer the call of our friends – without them Gaming on Batteries would not be here (again). Thank you, Jeff, the review continues after the jump.
Dead Ahead Zombie Warfare, as previously mentioned, is not like other zombie games. Unlike games like Into the Dead 2, the various Walking Dead games, etc this game is more of a strategy game that requires you to stay calm and plan your next move quite often. For me, this a refreshing take on the zombie theme. Sure, the zombies are getting blasted, beaten, burned, or blown up, but it is not directly under your control. You are in a role akin to the squad leader trying to save as many of your men and women as possible. Give the orders and they go.
Ah, giving the orders to your men and women is as simple as clicking their icon at the bottom of the screen. As time progresses, you build up energy (can’t find what it is called but that blue icon in the corner). This is the key to sending in more troops to face the horde of zombies that is heading towards your mobile command center – a yellow bus.
As you play, upgrades will become available. The buss takes upgrades by purchasing them with coins you earn in the levels (bonus’s and completing levels). You can also upgrade individual sections if you have the right items (obtained by beating levels or buying them from the trader). Troops are also upgraded in a comparable manner – if you have the right items (each person requires three separate items) and the coins, you can upgrade that person. While there are In App Purchases available, I have yet to have hit a paywall where all progress has stopped till I open my wallet (not going to happen as it is against our review policy). I am currently closing in on level 30 or so and have been casually playing for a day or so now.
If you are extremely lucky you may be able to win some of the harder to find items via the prize wheel (tokens are earned while playing or bought with real world money). I have only had mediocre success with the prize wheel so far.
The actual game play is like that of Metal Slug Defense, I reviewed that SNK Playmore title over on Retro Gaming Magazine over three years ago. During the time in between that review and this one, I have spent many an hour looking on Google Play for another title in that style. Dead Ahead Zombie Warfare is in that style. The setup is quite similar except for a few game play tweaks that I think set Zombie Warfare ahead of what SNK Playmore did.
Comparing Dead Ahead Zombie Warfare to Metal Slug Defense is like comparing Fina Fight to Bad Dudes. Both are “tower defense” games but there is more action in Zombie Warfare as there is a larger playfield to take advantage of. While Metal Slug Defense was a single plain, everyone bunched up on it and fought, Zombie Warfare has enemies that can, and often will, side step your troops and run right at your bus. Once the hit points of your bus are depleted it will retreat and you lose the level.
Sounds simple, right? Don’t get too cocky as you are in for a world of hurt in Dead Ahead Zombie Warfare. The zombies are not all lumbering idiots that are usually the fodder for weapons in movies and television shows. Nope, here some are fast. Some are slow. Some are downright weird (the chained blob thing for instance). Others are simply harmless and wish to be left alone but you cannot allow that so you must spill their guts far and wide. Seriously, there is a zombie that just sits there and does nothing other than wait, like the extinct Dodo bird, to have their guts splashed in the streets.
While you can collect a wide array of characters to send into battle, just be warned. When they die, they are not always dead forever. Yep. When your troops die at the hands of a zombie there is a strong probability that they will come back as the undead. This is not that big of a problem when you are sending the basic troops out one after another. The problem arises later when you are sending out those firefighters that wear protective gear. Sure, that gear makes them tougher to kill by zombies but it also backfires on you and makes them tougher to kill yourself. This was quite a funny moment when I realized I was fighting my own undead troops that came back to wreak havoc on my forces. Very cool touch – and one that can make the later levels even tougher.
That brings me to the whole map situation. This is something that Metal Slug Defense had as well but it was handled completely differently. In Dead Ahead Zombie Warfare you are given chunks of the game world to deal with. Each level, or zone, has a certain number of locations for you to battle the zombie infestation. If you can complete each location without taking damage to your yellow headquarters then you will finish that level with a cool three stars. Obviously, the goal is to get three stars in each level, though that is going to be tougher than you think for many.
Collect enough stars and you can move onto special challenge levels and new areas, further expanding the overall world (and providing much needed supplies. As the game world is opened to you, you will be able to click areas and retrieve supplies or bonus items. This is not something that happens on every square but it is still a frequent event. As you open up the area you can attempt any levels you discover, just be prepared to lose as your troops may not be prepared for tougher challenges.
Each level challenge requires fuel and your headquarters only has so much available. Tackling levels requires more fuel than just exploring one small square but that single square may open and expose another level. I have found many levels out of order just because I was spending fuel to explore the map fully – I got my butt handed to me because my troops were not prepared too.
Replenishing fuel can happen one of two ways. Simply waiting will deliver some fuel every so often or you can watch ads to get two units of fuel. Not bad as most games will use this aspect to get you to crack your wallet open.
When you are over run by zombies and they reach your headquarters there is a last line of defense fighter with a rifle available. His shooting ability is limited, he won’t be taking out a boss any time soon. Power up the red “rage” meter as I call it (used to drop special items like barrels into the level) and this little guy can use a machine gun with each unit of rage equating to a bullet – he can clear a whole horde of zombies so that your troops can destroy the roadblock and continue to the next level.
Graphically Dead Ahead Zombie Warfare is done in the retro, pixel, style that is still going strong with mobile developers. There is nothing wrong with it. It works and is detailed enough to get the point across. Blood and body parts pile up quickly (though they fade out like those in Space Hulk on 3DO/PlayStation/Saturn). If you are going to play Dead Ahead Zombie Warfare please be aware that there are some sounds that will be startling to those around you such as female zombies screaming in a very blood curdling manner, gunshots, and other macabre sound effects.
I guess it is time to wrap this novella up. Dead Ahead Zombie Warfare is one of those games that you either like or you hate. I personally love this genre but cannot stand standard tower defense games. Weird huh? I also like Plants vs Zombies, another tower defense style game. For a freemium game publisher, Mobirate sure suck at getting me to open my wallet because I am still playing for free (I have been playing ads for supplies as I write this). Maybe that will be the reason I actually give them some money – because they designed Dead Ahead Zombie Warfare in such a way that it is not required (though they remind you often you can pay with real cash).
Dead Ahead Zombie Warfare by Mobirate Ltd
Platform: Android (ZTE ZMAX 2 used for review)
Genre: Tower defense
In App Purchases: Yes
Rated: T for Teen
Available now on Google Play