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When the world has gone to hell, scavenging bullets and supplies is the only thing left to do in the fight to stay alive against an endless mob of mindless, flesh-eating atrocities that roam the decimated streets. The Walking Dead: Assault delivers a stylish action-focused take on survival in the zombie apocalypse that pays homage to the original comics, all while cooking up something a little different than what we've seen from other series tie-ins.
Assault's beautifully stark black-and white presentation (punctuated by crimson blood splatter) is visually striking and sets a bleak tone for the undead-killing excitement. Controlling a party of up to four characters at once, you'll thrash on zombies, hunt for ammo, and rescue survivors in top-down missions that have you conserving resources and making cautious decisions. Moving the whole group around together or individually is handled with simple touch controls, and your group will automatically attack zombies within range, freeing you up to focus on strategy.
Ammo is extremely limited, and melee weapons won't stem the zombie tide if you attract the attention of a larger group of zombies. Outright firefights are nicely balanced by the need to be stealthy, since making too much noise will attract massive herds of zombies. Intense moments where zombies come pouring out of buildings at you from all directions are frequent, and they keep the air of suspense tightly wound.
Each character culled from the original comics has its own strengths and weaknesses, and using the special abilities in tandem to stay alive requires careful thought about who you pick to accompany you on each mission. Unlocking new characters to use and applying stat perks with supplies you've found also improves your odds. While missions are tense and satisfying, they primarily boil down to clearing an entire area of zombies before moving on to the next zone. Optional bonus objectives like rescuing survivors within a time limit or clearing a stage without using special abilities do add some challenge, but there's not a lot of variety to be found as you blast and sneak through the harsh city landscape.
The bottom line. Gory zombie killing gets into a fun but cyclical groove in this top-notch strategic shooter.
iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 4.3 or later
Striking comic book visual style. Strategic zombie killing. Diverse special abilities and character strengths.
Stages do get repetitive