Overview

The App Store is bursting at the seams with zombie games, and most of them are pretty lackluster. Gamedoctors tries their hand at a zombie castle defense game with ragdoll physics for each zombie, and a deluxe blood splattering engine. True to its name you have to smash those zombies to kill them, as a typical flick in the air might not be strong enough.

You play as Joey who has barricaded himself in his house, and is trying to ward off waves of varying types of zombies. You need to survive a month, with increasing numbers and strength of zombies, but also as you progress you unlock weapons. It’s not just flicking as you gain access to rocks, wrecking balls, guns, and even asteroids. We gave you a sneak peek, and now it’s time for the full review.

Features

The core of the game is the campaign mode which is a calendar of 31 days trying to survive. Also included is a survival mode called endless siege where you try to last as long as you can. Finally there is a sandbox which lets you just pound zombies into submission, and play around with the ragdoll physics, and blood splatter engine.

In the game when you kill a zombie it releases stars which you can chose to tap on to collect. You use the stars to buy weapon upgrades from the shop which you’ll need to survive later in the month. There are 20 weapons in total that you unlock as you progress through the calendar. Some of the weapons have the ability to be upgraded once or multiple times.

Chillingo’s Crystal is included with three online leaderboards including the total number of zombie kills, the longest survivor, and the most stars. Also 15 achievements are included that provide unique challenges you won’t get from regular play.

The Good

The biggest thing to note is that despite it being a zombie game it’s much more comedic and closer to Plants vs Zombies, than anything else. The game first and foremost is castle defense, and it simply outshines all the other games on any platform ever. The biggest thing is that you have the entire area to play with, no part of the screen space is taken up by a stationary castle. Instead the house is recessed into the background so the zombies move the entire vertical distance.

On top of that, the game switches perspective from left to right side of the house, and then even has you defending both sides of the house at once. The gameplay continues building as there are multiple types of zombies that have different attributes with standard zombie, fast zombie, zombie that resists flicking, shooting zombie, and bomb carrying zombie. As you progress the zombies have hard hats which takes extra flips to rip it off, and then be able to flick them.

The game is set up so that zombies may keep coming at you until you actually smash them on the ground, and to pick a zombie up and smash it on the ground takes longer than mad flicking. With tons of zombies on screen you will have to decide if you can take the time to really crush the zombies to make sure they’re dead, but be careful as they may rise up and keep coming and even start crawling to your house.

Another risk reward option is whether or not to go for the star that pops out of dead zombies. Stars will help you later on, but in the present that requires extra taps that take you away from killing zombies. The reason timing is so important is because your house’s health degrades so rapidly which really keeps you on your toes. You can upgrade the house barriers, but by the time you’re able to, the zombies will have increased in strength and numbers so it’s practically the same ratio of house health depletion.

What really sets the game is apart is the number, variation, and power of all the weapons. There’s noting like dropping a wrecking ball on zombies as your house becomes overwhelmed. You won’t be able to complete many levels without the help of the weapons, and once you reach the last two weeks you’ll be begging for more.

There are even levels that don’t let you flick zombies, and you’ll have to use a gun for the whole level for example. The upgrade system for weapons is essential, and the entire arsenal makes this game much more than mad flicking on screen which the castle defense genre sometime falls for.

The ragdoll physics engine is one of the best I’ve seen, and right on par with strictly ragdoll apps. Every single zombie will be killed in a different way from the engine, and the amount of force you exert. Plus the blood splatter engine is gorgeous to see it spew out severed limbs, and sprinkle the ground with blood.

To play through the entire campaign will be one of the most enjoyable experiences you’ve ever had on your iPhone. That will make it easily worth $1.99, but that’s not all, as there is a survival mode which has an ingenious feature of optional checkpoints so you can return to the madness rather than starting over from the beginning. In addition, there is the sandbox which is a great stress reliever or just to witness the brilliant ragdoll physics and blood splatter engine. You’ve never been able to deal this much damage to zombies before.

Crystal is also included for fans of online high scores and achievements, and with three different tables, and 15 out of the way achievements, it adds even more to replayability. The entire experience of crushing zombies by actually picking them up and slamming them on the ground is only possible on the iPhone/iPod Touch, and it works so well.

Zombie Smash is one of the finest designed games in the App Store in every single aspect. Every single zombie you see is oozing with detail, as are the seemingly mundane backgrounds. The actual animations are second to none as the zombies smash into the ground breaking into pieces, or bending in various ways with blood squirting out. All of the weapons are spectacularly visual from the cinder blocks crushing zombies to them being incinerated in the chimney fire or blown up from various bombs.

The included soundtrack is deluxe to say the least which mixes a horror theme with a little action to get you in the mood to do the zombie smash. Then there are the various zombie groans, and of course the bone cracking of each smashed zombie that sounds oh so painful.

The Bad

This may be the only game where I couldn’t find a fault with the game. The only thing to consider is whether or not you like zombies, and these zombies are like the ones from Plants vs Zombies so how could you not? If you’ve never tried castle defense this is the first one that truly makes it a brand new experience with all of the included weaponry.

May be one thing would be a little back story to explain why and how Jake ended up locked in his house trying to survive waves of zombies. This by no means affects the game, but would have been neat none the less.

The Verdict

Zombie Smash isn’t just the best castle defense game, zombie game, ragdoll game, horror game, action game, but also one of the very best games ever made for the iPhone, and the best thus far in 2010. You will no doubt enjoy every minute of crushing these cartoonish zombies, and especially using all of the weaponry at your disposal as you progress through an intricate campaign. The game is brilliantly designed in every way with the zombies, ragdoll physics, splatter engine, weapon animations, wonderful soundtrack & sound effects, and superb controls.

Zombie Smash gives you all this greatness for only $1.99, that’s right $1.99 which should be considered stealing. If you ever buy one game for the iPhone make it Zombie Smash which is an absolute must if there ever was one.

***To win a copy of Zombie Smash simply leave any comment below and/or retweet this post. The contest ends tomorrow 3/18 at 11:59 PM PST. A valid e-mail address is required if leaving a comment, and/or you need to follow us on twitter so we can send you the code. US itunes only, and good luck, though really it’s only a $1.99.