Kids vs. Zombies as campy and entertaining as it sounds

Posted: May 5, 2009 in Shooter

Zombies seem to resonate with today’s gamer as illustrated by the plethora of zombie-related games in the iTunes store. Whether it’s rednecks or tanks protecting pub drinkers, you can find many creative ways that the zombie category (yes, I think there should be a category for them) has grown. So how entertaining is it to shoot zombies vicariously through three kids? Very entertaining if you’re talking about the latest zombie entrant Kids vs. Zombies.

The unique premise behind Kids vs. Zombies is that a virus has turned the human population into a planet of zombies. Three kids—Marcus, Scarlett and Dexter are the last hope for humankind. Of course, they’re camping in the woods and must defend themselves and their fort from zombies. If they can’t save themselves, well, there goes humanity.

Kids vs. Zombies has 3 modes of difficulty: easy, medium, hard and nightmare. Nightmare is just that with waves of zombies and everything except the kitchen sink thrown at you. The game has 40 levels, and at the beginning of each, the devs will throw in a curveball to keep your kids on their toes (e.g. no flashlights or spotlights, one of the kids is unavailable, etc.). An informative tutorial is included that provides a profile of each kid and their specialties as well as auto save/resume so you can pick up zombie killing where you left off at your convenience.

Each of the kids has unique specialties when it comes to weapons. Marcus is your short-range specialist who favors shotguns and machine guns (think spray-type arms); Scarlett who by the way is my favorite is the long-range sniper with her weapons of choice being slingshots and nitrogen snowballs; and Dexter is the munitions and borderline pyro expert and enjoys the awe of cherry bombs and acid balloons.

One creative aspect of the Kids vs. Zombies is the hardware store, and based on zombie kills, you earn money to upgrade weapons and the fort. Each character has his/her own upgrade system that you can scroll through. So Dexter the munitions expert for example can only upgrade with various explosives, while sniper specialist Scarlett has a selection of long-range weapons. I found it pretty fun to pick and choose how I arm the kids, but I wish there was a way to sell weapons too for when I need extra cash. The fort can has its own set of upgrade selections such as health to repair fort damage and spotlight to see farther.

Kids vs. Zombies is presented with 3D graphics so zombies and how they’re dispatched show in their full glory along with great moaning and weapons fire sound effects. You can tilt your device to gain a short or long-range view of the zombie killing field, while the little rascals are located at the bottom of the screen behind their makeshift fort. Visually, Kids vs. Zombies looks great, and the shadows and different perspectives add some sense of realism (we’re talking about zombies, right?).

To control each kid and use his/her weapon, you can rotate the kid to aim and then tap to shoot. For Scarlett, the longer you hold before releasing will increase the length of her shot. Dexter uses a targeting mechanism which is pretty accurate, while Marcus is really your last resort when zombies get in your face. While you’re using one of them to aim and shoot, the other two will act as AI allies and attack as well. You can update the AI intelligence in the hardware store, which I find handy when I need my kids to work more as team. The fun part of this is watching them work together and watching the combined effects of mixing different weapons. Before you update the AI, the other kids can be random in their shooting habits, which is a no-no in zombie land. Also, you can switch weapons and ammo by clicking an icon that appears in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. A useful stats page appears after completing each level that shows # of total kills, # of kills you’re responsible for, and accuracy.

I can’t stress this enough, master each of your kids’ skills because in addition to getting progressively harder, Kids vs. Zombies includes an added challenge: each kid randomly disappears one at a time due to illness or to forage for supplies. Humanity help you if you can’t use Scarlett’s sniper capabilities accurately. Upgrade your fort’s spotlight as well because in numerous levels, either your flashlights are out or it’s completely dark so you won’t see zombies until the last minute. Also, there are ten different zombie types but in general they are: regular slim, girth, and marshmallow (that’s my name for the XL ones). The bigger they are, the more hits are needed to take them down. And, there are zombie boss fights for good measure including one that spits vomit. Did I mention zombie dogs? You’ll want to pick off the fast moving hounds right away. Entertaining mind you, but remember, the kids are the last hope for humanity.

While Kids vs. Zombies offers a variety of zombies, the terrain looks similar, and the gameplay may be repetitive, although I find it fun for the upgrades. This is a game for those who are looking for a few minutes of fun and is easy to learn. It offers a refreshingly creative and unique take on the zombie category that won’t disappoint.

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