Sometimes, just sometimes, an iOS title comes along that’s so gosh damn good, it can be adequately reviewed in a mere four words: Buy this game…now! Wandake Studios’ newly released side-scrolling platformer-cum-shoot-’em-up, Apocalypse Max: Better Dead Than Undead (Out Now, $2.99), is such a title.
Still reading? Well, either you want to find out a bit more about Apocalypse Max before plonking down the purchase price (it is yet another zombie-themed game, after all), or, y’know, you simply stuck around to enjoy my sparkling prose. I’m guessing it’s probably the latter, but I’ll fill you in on what to expect from the game anyhow.
Funnily enough, Apocalypse Max‘s story centers around a chap named Max who finds himself trapped on an island smack bang in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Deciding he’d much rather go out in a blaze of glory than roll over and join the ranks of the undead, our eponymous hero “tools up” and embarks on a single-minded mission to take down as many of the bloodthirsty, slavering monsters as humanly possible.
Apocalypse Max‘s sprawling (mis)adventure takes you through 20 undead-infested stages set in such diverse locales as murky swamps, a vast sewer network and a mist-shrouded cemetery. Gameplay is pretty straightforward, but gripping nonetheless: To reach the end of each level in one piece, you’ve got to quickly shoot and stab your way through hordes of re-animated monstrosities, while also ducking, diving and leaping over obstacles like clouds of noxious fumes, pools of quicksand and spike pits. It’s fast-paced, exciting, violent and lots of fun!
As you work your way through the game, level layouts become increasingly complex and Wandake incrementally introduce tougher (and weirder) enemy types — giant zombies armed with meat cleavers, swarms of zombie buzzards, machine gun-wielding zombie soldiers and more! — so thankfully Apocalypse Max ‘s very well-designed virtual controls are more than up to the job, and both combat and platforming feels commendably fluid and precise.
Between stages you can visit the in-game store and use the coins you’ve earned whilst playing to buy better weapons, stock up on medi-packs and upgrade your arsenal. Of course, if you simply can’t wait to get your sweaty paws on heavy artillery like a rocket launcher and pulse rifle, there’s also an option to buy more coins via IAPs.
Last, but by no means least, it’s impossible to talk about Apocalypse Max without mentioning the game’s eye-strokingly lush graphics! The art direction and animation here truly is top-notch, and you’ve got to love the little visual flourishes Wandake have included like hilariously excessive death animations and the comic book-style onomatopoeic sound effects — Szok! and Kchak! — that are emblazoned on the screen whenever you disembowel a walker with your trusty dagger.
iFanzine Verdict: From the rip roaring adrenaline fueled gameplay to the eye-strokingly lush visuals, Apocalypse Max oozes quality from every festering pore! Seriously, this is the quality benchmark any future iOS side-scrolling shooters and/or zombie-themed games should be judged against.