Action Mobile’s 2013: Infected Wars (out now, $6.99) is a strange beast. It seems to want to be a mobile game and a console game at the same time, but chooses some pretty unfortunate aspects to blend together. Like a mobile game, it is very simple at heart. The entirety of the game consists of shooting wave after wave of zombies in the face with various weapons. Like a console game, it can take a long time to get through stages and has no checkpoints at all. If you die, you restart from the beginning of the level (or the game). Like a mobile game, it has a dual currency set up and sometimes requires in-game cash to continue a run and in-game gold for boosts and things like that. Like a console game, it’s initial asking price is “premium” (7 bucks… yeah, I know. I feel gross typing that).
All that being said, the game isn’t too bad. You start out with a weird story about Al-Qaeda turning US citizens into zombies and are immediately thrust into the action. You’re in third-person view with the standard love-it-or-leave-it dual stick controls on the touchscreen. You see a zombie. You shoot the zombie. This repeats for about 15 minutes until you die or get to the first boss, which is a zombie that’s slightly harder to kill. Then all of it repeats again in the next level. It’s fun in a mindless sort of way, but my first real surprise came when I died in the second level. You see, the game wants you to pay to restart levels (with none of the weapons you bought) or start the whole game over from scratch. What?!
The thing is, whichever option you choose you do get to keep your experience points. It’s kind of like Infinity Blade in that the whole point of the game, it turns out, is to keep dying and coming back with a stronger character each time. Experience points level up your character, which gives you things like damage bonuses and makes weapons in the shop cheaper to buy. Once I realized this, I was able to reset my expectations a bit and had a little more fun. But still, essentially you are doing the exact same thing in every level, wave after wave.
And I do mean wave after wave. It seems instead of making the game longer with exploration or puzzles or figuring out different strategies, it’s just artificially pumped up by throwing an obscene amount of zombies at you. It takes for-ev-er to get through any given stage. After 10 to 20 minutes of running backwards and shooting the same zombies in the same environment, a deep sense of monotony begins to set in. It’s especially frustrating because the game can be brutally hard at times. Prepare to be swarmed and cornered often. Luckily, you can jump into the online co-op if you are having too much trouble.
Thankfully, this co-op is where the game truly shines. I mean, yeah, it’s exactly the same as the single player campaign, but doing it with a buddy helps smooth over a few of the issues. For instance, if you die, they can come revive you. Also, the levels seem just a tiny bit shorter with two people shooting. It actually feels a lot like the zombie modes in Call of Duty, but sadly not quite as fun.
In case you couldn’t tell, I’m kind of conflicted about this game. It has great graphics, workable controls, and a near-flawless co-op mode. On the other hand, it’s incredibly generic, way too long, and monotonous almost to the point of boredom. It feels like a great foundation to base some good ideas on, but those good ideas are being substituted for a simple arena based shooter that has an end but feels endless.
iFanzine Verdict: There are tons of zombie games on the App Store, and 2013: Infected Wars is… well, it’s one of them. It’s got zombies in it, that you shoot. Over and over. Eventually you’ll find yourself in a slightly different place where you’ll be able to shoot more zombies, again. Sounds fun, right? Maybe? It also has a somewhat interesting leveling system and online co-op that works really well, but all of it is in service of what turns out to be just another zombie game on the App Store.