In a fashion that’s disarmingly reminiscent of the undead hordes from which it takes its name, Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies has shambled rather than sprinted to Xperia Play. The iOS version is half a year old now, although it still stands up as a perfectly decent FPS experience on mobile.
That naturally applies to this Android port as well, if not more so – the Xperia Play’s dedicated gaming input and twin-pad setup mean that it offers much more intuitive control than its entirely touchscreen-driven iOS forerunner ever could.
Movement is on the left touchpad and aiming is on the right, with the shoulder triggers and fascia buttons handling other controls, such as firing, iron sights, reloading, weapon selection, melee attacks, and interaction with the environment.
While this arrangement makes CoD: BLoPS: Zombies feel more akin to its console counterpart, it takes a bit of tinkering to get it working correctly. For some reason, the developers have set the sensitivity of the touchpads far too low.
Even when pushed up to maximum, the controls never feel swift enough. 360-degree turns seem to take an age – especially when you’re being assailed from all sides by ravenous ghouls.
Night of the living dead
Aside from that, the overall experience is very much the same as it was on iOS – you have to survive wave after wave of zombies, upgrading your weapons, patching up weak spots, and unlocking additional sections of the level along the way.
If you’ve played the home console version then you’ll be familiar with the drill – what we have here is essentially a scaled-down mobile companion piece, a game that doesn’t attempt to outstretch itself and yet offers a reasonably faithful approximation of the full-blown console edition.
The visuals are quite drab, with a crushing abundance of grey and brown occupying the screen for the vast majority of the time.
Locations and character models are basic, boasting none of the detail or flair seen in more recent examples of the genre, like MadFinger’s Dead Trigger.
Despite these presentation woes, there’s still a sense of style about the game. The comic book-style menu system is a highlight, accompanied by spooky horror-style music that does much to raise the tension before you dive headlong into the slaughter.
Zombie Flesh Eaters
If you know for a fact that you have three friends who will regularly hook-up for multiplayer sessions (local only – there’s no online play) then the £4.99 currently being charged for CoD: BLoPS Zombies is easier to stomach.
If you’re likely to be flying solo, the game becomes significantly harder to recommend. Much of the appeal stems from the thrill of keeping yourself and your team-mates alive during the unrelenting zombie assault. With that element removed, CoD: BLoPS Zombies loses some of its spark.
Having said that, Xperia Play owners starved of triple-A releases which harness the power of their handsets will probably be willing to endure a slightly less compelling single-player romp in order to give their phones a much-needed workout. CoD: BLOPS Zombies isn’t perfect, but it’s just about worth the six-month wait.