The iPhone is quickly becoming the premiere device to own if mowing down swaths of zombies is what you like doing in your spare time. Alive 4 Ever [App Store] joins the ranks of countless survival shooters and other games that revolve around slaying the undead, only with considerably more blood and gore than we've seen in other similar games.
Alive 4 Ever begins with the standard zombie epidemic plot, with the characters you're able to select being the few people who somehow are showing no symptoms of the infection. Each of these four playable characters have slightly different starting weaponry and statistics, but thanks to a RPG-like experience system and extensive selection of weapons to purchase, it doesn't really matter who you pick. With each level you complete, you will be awarded some experience and money. Gain enough experience to level up and you get ability points to spend to increase your character statistics such as adding to your total hit points or increasing your critical hit chance.
The controls work exactly like all the other top-down shooters with two virtual joysticks, one that controls your movement and one that controls your aiming and firing. Tapping your gun on the top right corner of the screen changes weapons, buttons on the left display your objectives and pause the game. Between the two virtual joysticks is a reload button which also serves as a progress bar for the time left before you can fire again when you do reload. When you're near an object you can interact with, such as picking up ammo, an additional button appears.
Of the 30 levels included in the game, objectives are varied between a limited set of possibilities and every level is set within a large arena setting. Some levels have goals that simply involve killing X number of zombies or surviving for Y seconds. Other levels have you rescuing survivors or picking up a brief cases full of vaccines. On levels that you need to rescue survivors or pick up vaccines, an arrow guides you to where they are, then back to the safe zone where they need to be dropped off. To make things harder, when rescuing a survivor, you need to guard them from zombies as they slowly follow you to the safe zone. Meanwhile, when you are carrying the briefcase of vaccines, you can only use your pistol instead of your much more powerful two-handed weapon.
Also included are a few different boss levels that mix things up a bit by pitting you against a massive zombie or other creature that has a few special attacks it can use against you. Along with the standard objectives, each level also has a challenge objective. For example, the goal of the first stage is to kill 60 zombies, the secondary challenge asks you to do it in under 3 minutes. Going back and completing all the challenges should provide a decent amount of replay value, especially since as you progress in the game just beating the main objective alone can be difficult enough.
The graphics and sound in Alive 4 Ever greatly add to the overall experience of the game. The environments are highly detailed as are the zombies and the blood splatters that appear every time you shoot one of them. The musical score and sound effects also fit perfectly with the mood of the game.
My favorite thing about Alive 4 Ever is that it really feels like a complete game. So often on the App Store and especially in the 99¢ market, games are released entirely unfinished with missing features promised via updates. Yeah, it would be nice if there were some more variety to the missions, but overall the game feels very solid and most importantly like a finished product. The RPG elements are well done, there are tons of weapons to buy, and there's even coop bluetooth multiplayer which according to early reports works great.
Alive 4 Ever has a load of similarities with Left 4 Dead available for the PC and Xbox 360. There are fat zombies that explode and another zombie that is virtually identical to L4D's Smoker zombie that ropes you in with its tongue. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and if you're going to pick something to imitate, the game widely regarded as 2008's game of the year seems like good source material to me.
If you've enjoyed survival shooters like Minigore or iDracula, Alive 4 Ever should also suit your fancy. At the promotional launch price of 99¢, the game provides a substantial value over the competition given the depth of the included RPG elements, multiple levels and multiplayer capability.
App Store Link: Alive 4 Ever, 99¢