Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Judge Dredd vs Zombies for the iPhone

“I am the law.”

I haven’t heard the name Judge Dredd in many years. I’m not a huge fan of the comic book series and still cringe when I think of the 1995 movie version of Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone.

I know a little about the Judge though. In the future, Earth is a big wasteland. Humanity lives in mega-cities and “judges” walk the streets dispensing justice by serving as judge, jury, and sometimes executioner. In Mega-City One, Judge Dredd is our main man delivering justice to all the criminals of the city.

How do you try to re-introduce Judge Dredd to modern day video gamers? Add zombies of course. That seems to be the norm with any franchise now.

So, we have a new “freemium” game from Fuse and Rebellion, and it has zombies.

Judge Dredd vs Zombies is a top down action shooter consisting of 30 levels of zombie blasting fun. There’s no real story here, no cut scenes, just action. You are Judge Dredd, and the only way to complete the level is to kill every zombie that moves.

You get to use one of four upgradeable weapons (MKII Lawgiver, Spitgun, Scattergun, or Hi-Ex Launcher) to destroy the zombie hordes. Each has its own pros/cons, and you will have to figure out which weapon works best for you if you want to complete the game (more on this later).

The good:

Controls are excellent. You move with a virtual d-pad on the left side of the screen and firing/reloading buttons on the right side. The game auto-locks on the nearest target (which really helps when the screen is packed full of zombies) but will also allow you to manually target if needed.

The levels are repetitive but fun (walk into an area, kill zombies, walk into another area, kill zombies, rinse and repeat). The action can be intense when you are locked in a room with the zombie horde and trying to fight to stay alive. It will take skill and patience to make it through all of the levels.

The levels are relatively short, which makes it great for quick pick up and play sessions.

The indifferent:

The game is challenging when you decide to leave it as a free game. As you progress through levels, you earn in game currency, which can help you upgrade your weapons (a must if you expect to finish the game).

The bad (and the real bad):

The amount of currency you earn in the game is very low. You are going to need currency and weapon upgrades to progress through levels in the game. Unless you buy credits, you are barely going to earn enough money to upgrade only one weapon to the point that you can beat the game. If you try to balance your upgrades with earned currency, you will end up with four minimally upgraded weapons that simply won’t give you enough firepower to beat the later levels of the game. I would have loved to play the game with all of the weapons but couldn’t unless I spent real money to upgrade them.

That gets us to the really bad: the microtransaction system for the game. It is very clear that the publishers of the game want you to buy additional credits to upgrade your weapons. Buying the credits will run you from $2 to $30 depending on how much you want. If you don’t spend the money, then it is going to be a long grind to finish the game. You will be replaying levels over and over to earn enough credits to make your weapon useful in the later levels. It can be done though. You will just have to demonstrate some patience…a lot of patience. For me personally, I would rather pay for the game and play it completely or allow the player to purchase optional upgrades. I didn’t like feeling that the game was tryng to make me buy credits just to get through a “free” game.

Final Thoughts:

Pick up this game and give it a try. The controls and action are excellent. If you don’t want to grind through the game or spend any money, play and enjoy the levels until you get stuck, then delete the game. If you love it, grind through it, or buy some credits. Either way, have fun being Judge Dredd, even if for a few minutes. Go protect Mega-City One. The citizens there need you.  You are the law.

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