Picture the scene: A horde of blood splattered monsters pursue you relentlessly through the night. If they catch you, it’s game over. They’ll tear you limb from limb and feast on your twitching remains. The chase has gone on for hours, you’re exhausted, just about ready to give up and succumb to your fate, when finally you reach an old, abandoned shack. Stumbling inside, you slam the door shut behind you. As your eyes grow accustomed to the gloom, you take in your dust-covered surroundings. A high-powered pistol gleams in the darkness. Sweet.
A sudden noise of splintering wood. You spin around just in time to see a snarling zombie heave itself through an open window. The creature lurches toward you. You raise your gun, take aim, and pull the trigger…
This should be thrilling, terrifying, electrifying. Anything but boring.
Yet as I sprayed the first of Undead: The Last Refuge‘s many (many) zombies with hot lead, I must admit to rolling my eyes and thinking, “Here we go again.” I mean, am I the only one getting more than a little tired of the dead’s apparent inability to stay buried for more than five minutes? For once, couldn’t we have had werewolves, mutants, or mummies instead? (Werewolves would have been particularly cool in this case, imagine a Dog Soldiers type scenario!). Alas, this wasn’t to be, as Magic Pocket’s have predictably settled for the iPhone gaming enemy du jour. Ho-hum. While it would be unfair of me to single out this title for flogging that particular (un)dead horse, given the fact that every second game on the App Store features zombies these days, the fact that this game apes Call of Duty: Zombies almost to the letter is harder to ignore.
It’s so similar in fact, it instantly feels like a pseudo-sequel to Activision’s zombie infested FPS; albeit with a contemporary setting and selection of weaponry. The heroic last stand in dilapidated house under siege from legions of flesh-eating monsters may be an overly familiar set-up, however, despite its derivativeness, Undead does manage to deliver a solid and atmospheric slice of horror gaming.
The game’s graphics are impressive, the grimy interior of the shack has a grittily realistic feel to it, while the zombies themselves are brought (back) to life with a commendable level of detail. Music and sound effects are used to unnerving effect, the incessent moans and groans coming from outside in particular helping to establish a chilling tone, and convince the player there is indeed an entire army of the dead launching an attack on your hidey-hole.
As zombies piled in through the windows and the frantic action unfolded, I must admit finding the controls unwieldy to begin with. The fact that the fire button is located directly above the d-pad meaning running and shooting at the same time is all but impossible (a nod to Resident Evil perhaps?), however I soon settled into a comfortable pattern of choosing a good vantage point to pick off invaders from, racing around closing the shutters, and stocking up on ammo/weapons.
I also found myself quite enjoying the game’s visceral kill or be killed thrills and up close and personal zombie slaying. Yet despite the title growing on me, ultimately Undead goes nowhere – there’s no multiplayer, no additional levels to unlock, no incentive to keep playing beyond topping your own high-score. That said, what the game does what it does well, so add a star to our rating if you haven’t played CoD:Z, wont miss a multiplayer mode, or you’re not sick to the back teeth of bloody zombies already.
iFanzine Verdict: If you’re put off by CoD: Zombies’ premium price-tag, be advised Undead provides a similar single-player experience for a fraction of the price. A well-made and good looking shooter, but by-the-numbers to the point of tedium all the same.