Undead Soccer full review
Undead Soccer is a flick-to-kick iPhone and iPad game with a zombie twist. Here's our review.
And here we have the latest member of the flick-to-kick sub-genre of iPhone games, given a little undead twist: Undead Soccer, a free, universal games app for iPhone and iPad.
In Undead Soccer you're a footballer who gets caught up in a zombie apocalypse and decides to use his soccer skills (and a seemingly bottomless bag of footballs) to fight back. As the walking dead shuffle towards you, it's your job to shoot them down with a series of well-aimed flicks.
The presentation is terrific, with vividly varied and cartoonish villains, characterful level backdrops and nicely ghoulish music. But the gameplay in Undead Soccer can be a little pedestrian, even by the standards of this generally samey genre.
Initially at least (you’ll need to upgrade your player's speed, power and so on with coins picked up along the way) the footballs are replenished far slower than you can aim, and you're often left bellowing at the screen for more ammunition at crucial points. And while it's possible to alter the speed and curvature of your kicks as well as their direction, we've yet to find real reasons why you'd need to. Slow kicks seem to do the same damage as fast ones, without noticeably altering the supply of new balls.
There are some power ups to pick up, admittedly - some Undead Soccer enthusiasts claim banana shots are key to picking these up at the same time as scoring a hit - but most of these seemed to be more trouble than they're worth; when you activate one it takes up extra time in which you would have been able to fire out a couple more normal shots. The fantastic 'golden pistol' powerup, however, is the exception.
We found ourselves constantly comparing Undead Soccer with the much older Paper Toss and Field Goal, two games with far less presentational variety but which do a lot more with the flick-to-kick mechanism - namely, adding variable wind, and in the case of Field Goal, long- and short-distance targets. Landing a 60-yarder in high wind is deeply satisfying in a way that Undead Soccer doesn't seem able to offer.
Here we've unlocked the one powerup that is inexplicably vastly more powerful than the rest: a sort of golden pistol. Isn't it silver bullets that kill the undead?
And if you're going to ramp up the difficulty and interest through a series of levels (there are two boss characters to reach), it’s generally considered decent to offer some sort of level unlock system so you don't need to hack through the easy bits every time you restart. That isn't offered here, except for a 'buy a new life' prompt that would rapidly exhaust your supply of coins unless supplemented with real-world money.
For all these issues, though, Undead Soccer is compulsive, especially once you’ve spent just enough on player upgrades to give yourself a chance. There are different-coloured footballs to unlock and regularly refreshed targets to aim for (we all know this sort of thing is cheap manipulation, but it still feels good) and the old staple of the slowly advancing enemy horde gives the game a pleasing urgency. Oh, and it’s free – but buying one of the coin bundles will remove the occasional but mildly irritating full-screen adverts.
Great, now I'm dead.