Zombie Gunship: Zombie Killing Fun for iPhone & IPad

| Just a Peek

If you think about it for a moment, zombies are the most politically correct human-like creatures that are OK to have fun killing. Zombies cross all racial, political, philosophical, social, economical, ecumenical, and ideological boundaries. If you get bit by patient zero you become a brain craving walking corpses regardless of what you were pre-bite.

People of different ethnicities who find reasons to dislike each other, for instance, would agree that if it comes down to choosing between a drooling, flesh-gnashing zombie or a person of another race, then the zombie is toast. It may have been a White guy’s grandmother, pre-infection of course, or a Black guy’s youngest daughter before she got bit, once infected it doesn’t matter. Grandma can gnaw on you just as easily as little sis, so both gotta be dealt with. Once they become the walking dead, all bets are off and the living must band together to survive. Not exactly a reason to gather around a campfire, hold hands, and sing Kumbaya, but it’ll suffice.

I’ve always been a big fan of zombies. I believe the Zombie Apocalypse is an inevitability, that some super virus or pox will wipe out a large portion of our current population, and the survivors will have to deal with the restless dead. It’s why I paid attention to the rules listed in Zombieland (Rule #2 is my favorite), and took notes while watching The Walking Dead. See, I plan on being one of the survivors.

And I don’t buy into many of what passes for zombie lore either. I don’t believe all zombies will shamble about moaning and losing body parts along the way. They’ll do that only if their legs are messed up. If they are physically OK, except where they got bit, then watch out, that zombie could be a sprinter, and there are few things more horrifying than having what use to be a 6’9”, 280 pound zombified linebacker barreling down on you while drooling infected spittle. Not a pretty sight.

Let’s go back to Zombieland for a moment. After watching that very informative movie I was left wondering if there were any rules they left out. The list of 33 rules seems pretty complete, including Rule# 1: Cardio, and Rule #18: Limber Up. I was pretty satisfied with the list until I came across a new game, then I realized there was a missing rule. So here it is:

Rule #34: Zombies can’t fly.

That may seem obvious to you at first, but hang in there with me for a moment. See, the new game that gave me this revelation is Zombie Gunship. In it you become a Fire Control Officer on an AC-130 Spectre Gunship. If there is one aircraft in the world that I would want to be in when laying waste to ground forces of ANY type, it would be the Gunship.

Zombie Gunship

During my stint in the Air Force I had the pleasure of watching a firepower demonstration that featured a Gunship. It was an awesome display that left an impression on me that is vivid even now.

I also had the brief privilege of working on the electronics on a Gunship. Even back in the early 70’s what that craft could detect with its sensors was amazing. There several sensor control and electronic warfare (radar jamming and detection) stations in the aircraft, all feeding info to the Fire Control Officer’s station. Slaved to those sensors were 3 of the most hellacious weapons ever dreamt of; a 20mm Vulcan cannon, a 40mm BOFOR, and a badass 105mm Howitzer cannon. (I KNOW! A cannon in ANY aircraft is wild, right?) All of these weapons hung out of one side of the aircraft.

Zombie Gunship

AC-130 Spectre Gunship Sensor Station. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Gunship missions are usually at night and when one finds its target it loiters at a certain altitude, making huge banking circles, which position the guns towards the general direction of the target. Then the Fire Control Officer homes in on the target using his sensor feeds. When he pulls the trigger, in a second of two afterwards, there’s usually not much of the target left.

So, when the Zombie Apocalypse does happens I want to be manning the trigger end of a Gunship so that I can rain down permanent death upon the brain craving hordes. And that’s exactly what you do in Zombie Gunship.

Zombie Gunship

Upgrade your guns for more zombie fun

Your only mission is to keep the mindless masses from reaching a safe bunker while giving the uninfected safe passage. If you inadvertently kill an uninfected you get warned, kill three and you get recalled. If a zombie gets past the bunker entrance, the mission is over. You get points for dropping as many zombies as you can.

Sounds simple enough, right? You’ve got big guns (Rule # 25), sensors that help you sort the living (they appear as white figures because their body heat lights up the infrared sensors) from the dead (they appear as black figures cuz dead folks got no heat), and you are about 1500 feet up (Rule # 34).

Zombie Gunship

Get nice power-ups too, for a price

Unfortunately it isn’t so simple. you start off with just the gatling gun, which is great for precision work, but tends to overheat. As you waste the wasted and earn more cash you can upgrade, make your gatling gun faster, and more accurate, or get the 40mm, which takes out small clusters of brain eaters per shot, but is slower to reload, or lay waste to whole groups of the infected by installing the Howitzer. (Yeah baby!!)

The more you kill, the more there is to kill, but be careful, mixed in the walking dead are the living trying to make it to safety. And if that wasn’t enough, there are larger, hulking creatures that can take several direct 40mm hits and keep on shambling. You really have to nail these guys so the faster your weapon can reload the better.

If the bunker gets overrun, or you kill one too many of the uninfected you must return to base. There you can fit up your gunship with the aforementioned upgrades or you can buy power-ups, like a sentry bomb for the bunker entrance, (More stuff to go BOOM! Sweet!)

The sounds in Zombie Gunship are headset worthy. A Comm voice alerts you to zombie advances, and advises you of your friendly fire headcount. It also commends you on your marksmanship. In fact, I pay little attention to the score ticker in the upper left of the screen until I’m recalled.

As you shoot you’ll see the tracer rounds stream from your ship. A half second later you’ll hear the thuds of the 25mm bullets peppering the ground , and anything unlucky enough to be in the same spot, or the concussion to the 40mm or 105mm shells. In the background you’ll hear the steady drone of the Spectre’s engines. No snappy or foreboding soundtrack, no PacMan-like noises when you waste a zombie. In fact, the game looks and acts more like a simulation at times. They’ve swapped the 20mm Vulcan for a 25mm Gatling Gun, but beyond that, while slowly circling the bunker you’re protecting, the atmosphere of the game is pretty realistic. You’ll see zombies attack civilians and feel helpless to do anything about it. You’ll clear a path through a knot of zombies to the bunker entrance for some lucky guy. You’ll take a chance and try a surgical strike with the 25mm and help some poor Joe who’s being attacked by a zombie. It’s all there, and it’s fun, fun, fun!

Zombie Gunship

The green dot show bunker location. Note the healthy guy in the center getting chased by a zombie mob (Run Forrest!)

Zombie Gunship is good, but it could be better. There could be missions were you help some group rid itself of a zombie infestation, or escort a convoy, find and destroy a particularly infectious zombie. A two-player game might be quasi-cooperative where you see who takes out the most while still guarding the bunker. The landscape could also be made to present challenges; trees and brush could hide zombies, rocky areas might be perfect for a zombie ambush.

This points to the game’s only major flaw; Zombie Gunship can get a bit repetitive. Once you’ve maxed out your weaponry and gotten a boat load of power-ups, the only thing left is to beat your high score or those of your friends, which are posted in GameCenter. Unfortunately, that just not enough to hold the interest of most folks in our attention-deficient society for very long.

Bottom Line

As it is Zombie Gunship is a very good game. It’s politically correct, it can prepare you for the coming Zombie Apocalypse, and it’s cheap at only US$0.99. As a AC-130 Fire Control simulator, it’s not bad. You don’t get to fiddle with all the buttons and dials or the other screens a real Spectre Fire Control Officer would, but the feel of manning the FC’s chair comes through.

If you’re the impatient type and want all the upgrades at once you can buy game cash through in-app purchase, but where’s the fun in that?

The only real problem is that the game gets old too quickly. Once you’ve honed your skills with the guns by protecting the bunker you’ll wish for other scenarios to try them out on.

So, if you know all 33 original rules in Zombieland then add my 34th rule and grab Zombie Gunship. No one will mind that you gleefully wipe out throngs of the undead, and when the Zombie Apocalypse happens you’ll thanks me for HIGHLY RECOMMENDING* this game. You’ll consider it a buck well spent.

Review Item Zombie Gunship
Manufacturer Limbic

List Price

US$0.99

Minimum Requirements

Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), and iPad. Requires iOS 4.1 or later.

* Note: My rating system goes like this;

  • Get it Now! - Highest rating and an absolute must-have
  • Highly recommend - Minor flaws, but a great product
  • Recommend - Flawed, but still a solid product
  • So-so - Problem product that may find a niche market
  • Avoid - Why did they bother making it? A money waster.

 

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