Raid Neighbors with the Undead in City Zombies on iPhone

City ZombiesIn recent months, a number of popular Facebook social gaming genres have found themselves translated onto the various iDevices, such as the series of “Story” games from TeamLava. Now a new type of city-building is coming to iPhone from Gameview Studios, the DeNA-owned developer of Tap Fish. Taking a turn toward the undead, the application is entitled City Zombies.

As already noted, City Zombies is a city builder, but while Gameview’s Tap series of farming and aquarium games are watered-down replicates of their Facebook counterparts, City Zombies changes things up a bit. That said, the title still feels a bit clunky with social features that lack any real control.

The premise behind City Zombies is interesting enough. Players are tasked with the creation of an undead metropolis, not necessarily for the purpose becoming a budding city, but to build an army of undeath. Comparable to Tap Town (only with zombies), players manage the aspects of population and income.

The method of doing so should be fairly familiar to long-time city-builder players. In order to make money, players must construct factories, which will produce ghoulish goods over a set amount of time. After completion, the goods can be claimed for profit, the factory cleaned, and the process reset.

Of course, to be truly profitable, more than one factory is necessary, and thus the number of factories must be gated by one’s population. To increase population, residential structures must be created, and in order to support more populace, “fun” entertainment buildings must be present. These structures directly increase population cap rather than display a “happiness” gauge as with Social City and other such city-builders.

Attack NeighborsAs a free-to-play game, many of these items will cost the game’s virtual currency (Zombie Bucks). That said, there is a decent balance between virtual currency costing goods and those that merely cost in-game coin. What does, however, cost a good chunk of virtual currency are the zombies for one’s zombie army.

This is where City Zombies starts to take a more interesting turn. In addition to the traditional factory type that earns money, players can also construct a zombie factory, of sorts, to bolster their undead ranks. Once the player has created at least eight zombies they will be able to attack a neighboring city. When initiated, the player’s horde will begin filling the city streets and attacking, at random, whatever buildings get in their way.

Unfortunately, any control here is minimal, leaving the player only the option to tap the attack icon in the bottom-left in order to boost the zombies’ collective strength. After a bit of time has passed, and the town lies in ruins (literally), users will collect a respectable bonus of in-game coin, experience, and occasionally Zombie Bucks.

What adds to this aspect of the game is that it’s both different and interesting to watch one’s armies tear down another city. Since this is the more unique aspect to City Zombies, the virtual currency is used quite wisely, having most of the zombie factory choices costing Zombie Bucks and rewarding users not only more zombies, but more zombies more quickly.

Attack BeginsRaiding cities is also where the social play comes to the forefront. Well, sort of. Each time the player attacks a city, they are actually attacking another player’s creation. As it stands, we’ve not been attacked yet, so it’s unclear as to whether there are any effects from being attacked (though the game’s lack of comment on the matter suggests there is not). This is a shortcoming of the game, at least from a social standpoint. The neighbors attacked appear to be completely random, leaving a level of anonymity.

Connecting to other random players in a game is fine, but only when there is some semblance of control in player visitation like in TeamLava’s Story apps or attack types such as in City of Wonder. Here, there is no clear way to add friends, visit/attack their cities, or even browse other users in general. That’s a shame, too, because the zombie invasion feature is certainly interesting and with more in-depth control and finesse, could really be a strong selling point.

Unfortunately, as of right now, the feature feels a bit clunky, as does the rest of the game. Like the Tap titles before it, everything has a very stiff and robotic feel to it. Along with basic, and redone, play, there just isn’t any flair with City Zombies. There is no real style that truly wows the player, and this is likely the reason as to why most players that download the game either love it or hate it (if the app‘s customer ratings can be trusted).

In the end, City Zombies is an average game that reuses Facebook city-building concepts and spins them with a darker, more interesting twist. The game could benefit from more style and finesse, and perhaps more control on the user’s part. All the same, it is still only version 1.0, so we will see, in time, what new iterations bring to the table.