Zombie Commando [$3.99] is the rare premium game without in-app purchases that I think would actually be better if it had them, because with the current structure, it's grinding or nothing. Zombie Commando's premise is like many more before it: kill wave upon wave of zombies. This time, players control an entire team of zombie killers, all at once, across fifty missions.

The look of Zombie Commando is like candy to pixel art fans. It's colorful, and while not particularly detailed, this is due to the game's zoomed-out perspective which allows a ton of zombies on screen at one time. Thankfully, managing the commandos to take them out is easy: just moving with the joystick moves the entire group, with the ability to select a single one to focus on, and all firing is automatic.

Each commando will go into their ideal position, with the physical bruisers up front, and long-distance units staying in the back. Getting everyone into their ideal position if they aren't in it already can be a problem as there's just not much actual individual control over each commando, but the game at least tries to be intelligent.

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Missions have a slight variance, including ones that involve killing all zombies, ones that involve rescuing humans, others that involve making it from checkpoint to checkpoint, and more. There's a general theme of "kill the zombies" though. The worst missions are the escort missions. Escort missions are bad: if a politician promised to outlaw them, I'd probably vote for them even if they wanted to make Soylent Green a reality.

But Zombie Commando's escort missions commit the sin of being unbearably slow, with humans that just move along a set path at a pace that seems to belie the fact that "hey, we're in the middle of a zombie apocalypse." Might want to pick it up. More than once, I wound up getting the escort killed because I went to get a health pickup when a bunch of zombies suddenly spawned and swarmed the target. Whoops.

Oddly, the game lacks in-app purchases of any kind. This is a good thing, right? Well, there's really no reason for the game to not have them, as there's 3-star units that have more powerful stats but have high costs. In a normal game, there would be the ability to buy more in-game cash to get more powerful units. Instead, without buying any more cash, to get more money, previous missions have to be grinded for more money to get upgrades and those deadly units.

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Now, it's not really necessary to buy as many upgrades and characters as possible, but I certainly do get the feeling like I'm not as powerful as I necessarily want to be, and I don't quite have the ideal set of units. If I had the ability to buy more cash, that would alleviate this frustration: I could get the ideal set of tanks and long-range units that I would want. But instead, I have to grind missions repeatedly to do so.

This gets to the greater complaint about the pace of the game. Grinding doesn't get you too much money, and while the missions are only a few minutes long each, they feel like they could move so much faster, like they're not making ideal use of the time they take. And because the game does move so slow, it makes that act of grinding not as much fun as it should be. And really, if the game did move at a quicker pace, it would be more fun overall.

I must admit, while playing, I've thought: "I would pay a couple bucks to just buy a bunch of three-star units and blow through this game." And I don't have that option, and getting more money isn't that much fun. Just progressing through the game normally is okay: killing hundreds of zombies at a time is hard to make boring. But the meta-game struggles.

Of course, what I'm really saying is that I want Zombie Commando to have a perfect progression. I want its progression to feel as great as Ridiculous Fishing [$2.99] does. That's asking a lot, yes: but I think that this game's design flaws are just more apparent because there's not that simple IAP fix.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • VoodooVyper

    What a terrible review. You state a "normal" game would give you the option to buy more in-game currency. Since when is that normal? With so much about how IAP are ruining games, you flip it on the other side and say this game is not as good because of the lack of IAP. Maybe the game progression is slow, but it is not the fault of a lack of IAP. I hate that this even has a bearing.

  • Zaraf

    This game's gameplay sounds kinda similar to Bardbarian. Is it?

  • TheRybka

    What? No. Selling free currency isn't the only way to give people what they want. Do you not realize the author sets how much currency is doled out? He/she needs to adjust it.

    No wonder IAP is so common - dolts like you ask for it instead of actual game balance...

  • philadendron

    Sorry, but I have to agree with the hash criticism already posted here. Don't ask for IAP, ask for a well-balanced game. Or, suck it up and grind.

    • MartianLM

      Well balanced please, because his game is not. The gameplay is fine but the grind is not, it's interminably slow to earn money. That one simple balance problem turns a 4 star game into a 1-2 star game for me.

  • Zepln

    Yeah this review is off a bit...I actually really appreciate that IAP is not an option. I would be cautious to qualify a "normal game" as one with IAP. In fact, if you could purchase the best characters, it would cheapen the experience of this game. Also, it feels like the escort missions are supposed to be slower. It forces you to not just run ahead, but to actually protect the escorts. Don't let this review steer you away. I'm liking it so far.

  • TheCalm1

    I bought this game to SUPPORT no IAP. My only slight gripe was the steep until price. But hey, I'm supporting a (hopeful) revolution here. I've bought Wayward Souls bcz I applaud the pay model they chose, a dollar an update and no IAP. I also would like to agree with most of the commenters here by saying, Yes, the author of this review is dense at the thought of IAP in-game is normal?! Dude, maybe your supervised should review your wages. Your obviously making too much money to so strongly desire to throw away your chips and virtual(ly) NOTHING!

  • predator8u

    IAP fix = It's called balance or people not spewing money call it a patch.

    First time I've ever seen a games "reviewer" critique a poorly balanced/designed game by saying "I wish I could pay more money for this to work properly". You already paid! It should be included.

    I'm not opposed to paying for a game (own nearly 500 premium games) or content but asking to pay more money for some thing already purchased to work is...sad.

    Take this persons gamer card. Give him a slot machine since he's made O'Money.

    I love TA because they don't typically fall for this BS but this review feels like it's from 5 years in the future.

    Cheat Codes = IAP and we're letting it happen.

  • Irvin

    This entire game is build on the premise of stats checking, there really isn't anything to actually *play*, you just click start and watch the game, much like mountains.

    The only decision you make is to buy or not to buy, to upgrade or not to upgrade. You don't even have options of WHAT to upgrade.

    In the game itself, you only choose where to move to, and that's it. If your stats is good enough you'll win, if not you'll die, there is absolutely no influence on your part during the gameplay that affects the outcome of the mission, only stats check.

    A very poorly designed game both in gameplay mechanics and balancing.

Zombie Commando Reviewed by Carter Dotson on . Rating: 3