Judge Dredd vs Zombies
'I am the Law'
Review Cop of the future Judge Dredd has been pounding the streets of Mega City One since 1977, but it took host comic 2000AD's acquisition by software developer Rebellion in 2000 to see the lawman to star in a decent videogame. Dredd has appeared on the PC, the PlayStation and the Xbox, and now he's meting out justice, shot by shot, on the iPad and iPhone.
The scenario? Who cares? This is Dredd executing ever larger mobs of zombies, wisecracking on the way. It doesn't really matter why. The plot is no more pertinent to the gameplay than those angry birds' motivation for catapulting themselves at pigs. The fun is in the flinging or, here, the fighting.
You're goin' down, creep
And, let's be honest, Dredd vs Zombies is Angry Birds, with guns, the undead and better dialogue. But it's the same repetitive gameplay, with AB's individual levels here rendered as rooms and corridors within a bigger level.
As soon as you enter each section, the doors slam closed and you have to destroy the undead within if you want to proceed. Bizarrely, they come up through the floor - in a tower block? - more appearing as the initial horde are laid to rest.
All done, the doors open and Dredd can proceed to the next lot.
It's a long shot, Dredd
The presence of large Judge Shield badges to collect like so many Super Mario Bros. coins prevents the game being played as a third-person adventure in the world of the comic strip. But it does provide a mechanism for gaining points to spend on improving your weaponry, buying better guns and attaining superior combat skills.
And, this being the era of the 'freemium' mobile game, you can top up your Credits by spending real money. I'm not sure I approve. I couldn't quite rid myself of the notion that the game might not be so readily doable without coughing up more cash.
Choose your weapons
It's certainly hard to proceed without Credits, earned not only by destroying your zombie opponents quickly - very quickly, though each Shield you grab gives you a few more seconds to gain maximum kill points - and by taking as little damage as possible. A few hits and Dredd is calling for a medpack - one more and the mighty lawman is toast.
Well, Dredd is pushing 60 in the comic. But with so much fighting taking place in small rooms, you often find yourself running in circles firing away while trying to avoid the zombies' clutches, especially while you're reloading. I found it just too easy to get whacked yourself in such close-quarter combat zones.
And these zombies don't stumble around waiting to be shot. They'll make a beeline for your brain, leaping quickly forward if you let 'em get too close. They can take several hits to put down. Some explode, releasing toxic gas, if hit - though the canny player uses these to inflict damage on the dead not on Dredd.
Forget Angry Birds then - Dredd vs Zombies' real spiritual ancestor are those turn-by-turn 'zombie isle' games in which you move step by step, luring the ever-closer undead into graves. It's a game style that would be reborn as the classic Daleks and, now, in Dredd vs Zombies, though these days the gameplay takes place in real time and in isometric 3D.
Dredd's world is no less basic. The groups of levels may change from a Justice Department Sector House to Mega City One's monumental chapel of rest, Resyk, via old peoples' home B. Arthur Crock Block - geddit?!?! - but you're still running around the future dystopia-standard grey corridors and rooms. They're detailed, yes, but very samey.
But you've a selection of four guns - provided you've got sufficient Credits - though no way to switch between them during a level. But Dredd vs Zombies makes up for that with a cute animation that zooms rapidly in on the last dying zombie, for a brief Pekinpah-esque 'body flies back in slo-mo' view.
The bloat next door
And the auto-aiming system is neat, Dredd automatically selecting targets by proximity and threat level, providing he's facing the right way. But you too can tap to select targets, though in the heat of a firefight this can be tricky.
Judge Dredd vs Zombies is a classic mobile time-waster, as compelling as Angry Birds but with a hand-eye coordination requirement that means you'll need to be a more-than-casual gamer to get the most out of it. Fans of Mega City One's finest have no excuse not to try out, and for everyone else there's the lure that all 30 levels of zombie blasting action will cost you just 69p. You'd have to be Sov or a Simp not to enjoy it. ®
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