The original Contract Killer was a fun game but the whole 'you are a hired killer' aspect didn't sit well with many people. Yes, the game glossed over it somewhat by claiming you were taking out 'bad' people but it lent a certain amorality to proceedings. It felt a bit...murder-y.
With Contract Killer: Zombies, developers Glu Mobile have come up with the ideal solution to the problem of making the player feel like a mass killer -- make the enemies something that is already dead! The Zombie continues its ascension to the number one baddy spot as the Contract Killer series moves from the world of crime and espionage into a post-apocalyptic city.
You play a grizzled sharpshooter, the nominatively-determined 'Shooter' who has been confined to a wheelchair by a mysterious incident in his past. Shooter finds himself partnered with Evelyn, a fellow survivor who will help you gather supplies and herd other humans to safety while you take out the Dead.
Like the other Contract Killer games, aiming is just a question of dragging a finger around the screen to position your crosshairs so you can fire with the tap of a virtual button. The sights will narrow when you are over a target to help guide you but you can fire even before you lock on if you are confident of hitting something. You can also tap a crosshair button at the bottom of the screen to go into 'iron sights' mode where you look down the barrel of your weapon.
The game is mission-based with a short dialogue clip from you or Evelyn setting the scene or adding a bit of atmosphere before each level. Most missions require you to protect either Evelyn as she scurries around grabbing supplies or one or most survivors trying to escape the zombie hordes.
At your disposal is a shotgun and a pistol but you can buy new and better weaponry from the store. As this is a Freemium game it goes without saying that you will have to lay down some actual cash to get the better weapons but it is possible to earn enough in-game to buy a few upgrades before reaching for your iTunes password and coughing up.
Most Zombies can be taken down with a few shots and as is traditional a headshot will drop them instantly. Typically, zombies get a lot more animated when they get their hands on a fleeing survivor which adds to the tension as you frantically try to headshot them before their victim croaks.
The aiming and shooting works very well, which is a good thing, because that is pretty much all there is to the game. Each mission takes place in a well drawn, pre rendered scenes that have plenty of nooks and crannies from which Zombies can shuffle and lurch and you need to keep your wits about you, scanning the scene for signs of movement. The story and background details add a lot to the game and the art direction helps create a real air of menace which is a welcome change from the other CK games.
Each mission will earn you experience and cash as well as unlocking new areas and there are plenty of achievements to be unlocked. The game will inform you when you have partly completed an achievement -- e.g. made 25 per cent of the headshots needed to get a Sharpshooter ranking -- which encourages you to press on.
The pace gets quite frenetic once you have cleared the first few missions and weapon choice becomes a vital consideration. This will mean you having to shell out some cash, but we think that once you have played through a few missions for free you will have a taste for Zombie blood. (Not literally. Ugh.)
Contract Killer Zombies is a free download from the App Store