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BioDefense: Zombie Outbreak

For: iPhone

Power plants vs zombies

Product: BioDefense: Zombie Outbreak | Developer: Resolution Interactive | Format: iPhone | Genre: Strategy | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.0
BioDefense: Zombie Outbreak iPhone, thumbnail 1
It’s often said of people that they’re turning into one of their parents. I’m told regularly by my nearest and dearest that I'm growing more and more like my dad every day.

It seems as if this often unsettling phenomenon can be applied to certain types of games. Take the relatively fresh faced tower defence genre, for example.

As anyone who’s been gaming for longer than half a decade will know, tower defence is the simpler, livelier, fun-loving child of action strategy games such as Command & Conquer.

Yet as developers go into greater depth and add more features to their tower defence games, they're beginning to resemble their father and BioDefense: Zombie Outbreak is just the latest offspring.

Resurrecting the classics

It’s clearly a tower defence game: you spend time setting up automated gun turrets around your base in preparation for successive shambling zombies.

But nostalgia creeps in when you play through the initial tutorial level that smacks of Command & Conquer. Yes, it has the same detailed futuristic style and grating rawk music (mercifully alleviated by granting access to your iPod library), but it goes beyond that.

It’s in the fact that your first task isn't used to establish a defensive perimeter, but to accrue resources for purchasing defences. Furthermore, you need to ensure that your base has enough power to function, with each unit built demanding a chunk of an overall power bar.

Then there’s the familiar strategic fog of war that obscures you view of the full map. This time it’s explained away as literal darkness, requiring you to set up flood lights to be able to expand your base and for your turrets to be able to pick out their targets.

Alone in the dark

There’s no doubting the effectiveness of this back-to-basics approach. The clean, zoomed-out perspective and distinctive unit design makes defending against 360-degree assaults surprisingly straightforward.

The controls, too, are a doddle, as you tap and drag units into play. Mercifully for such a high intensity game, it isn’t too fussy about where you put them either.

With the radar showing you the approaching hordes as encroaching red dots, and individual spats as red cursors, levels soon become a tense and entertaining task of putting out fires – scooting over (by dragging the screen) to each incident to patch up your defences or reinstate a fallen spotlight.


Restoring light becomes annoyingly important as you find one of your turrets being munched on by a pack of zombie dogs lurking in the twilight that exists on the edge of the darkness. You can see them clearly from your lofty perch, so why can’t your hi-tech guns?

Other irritations include levels that often don’t give you enough time to prepare. You're almost always trying to catch up right from the start. You can slow down (or speed up) the game at any time by pressing a button at the top left, but it’s a little irritating that the default setting isn’t quite right.

Once the enemy breaks through a single area of your defence, it can be all but impossible to recover. It’s especially tough given the glacially slow rate at which funds are accrued, combined with the sky-high initial cost of upgrading your units. You’re often left simply treading water, unable to improve your defences.

While we’re mentioning problems, it seems a little odd that you can’t flow from one mission to the next in Mission mode – you have to exit to the title screen and re-enter. It’s not a game-breaker, but it is another inexplicably rough edge.

Still, BioDefense: Zombie Outbreak remains an engrossing addition to the bulging tower defence genre. By taking on many of the traits of its spiritual forefathers – particularly Command & Conquer - while sticking to the honed philosophy of tower defence, it emerges feeling simultaneously familiar and new.
BioDefense: Zombie Outbreak
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 24 March 2010
Though it doesn’t give you enough room to breathe, BioDefense: Zombie Outbreak borrows enough from the wider action strategy genre to make it an interesting proposition in the crowded tower defence genre
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