Right off the bat, I’ll tell you something you already know: Black Ops Zombie isn’t the best looking game out there.
“Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies has been optimized for 3rd-generation devices and higher, allowing for unparalleled graphics and performance on a mobile device. As an iOS Universal App, the game operates the same whether played on iPhone, iPod or iPad, meaning a zombie’s brain will splatter just as vividly on your iPhone4′s Retina Display as on your iPad 2.”
Despite that, the same could be said for the previous Call of Duty game on the AppStore, and as far as Black Ops goes, it was an improvement. Actually, the most eye-catching part of the game is the menu system, which is designed to be like a comic book. Despite running it on the latest hardware (iPhone 4S), I still experienced the occasional slowdown, which is pretty odd. We’re hoping this is just a small bug that will be patched up in the future.
One of the biggest problems the original Zombies game on the iPhone had were the controls. On that note, the controls on Black Ops Zombies have improved over the original, despite adding some things (such as crouching and sprinting). Apart from that, it brings back all the control schemes (joystick, swap, and tilt) from the previous title.
The best about the new control scheme is that it’s now easier to aim, with controls similar to those in the Gameloft FPS (although not quite there), rather than the dual joystick scheme from the predecessor. I can’t say the controls are perfect, but the controls are definitely heading in a better direction. Maybe by the time they release another Zombies game, they’ll finally have nailed it.
You already know the drill: you have to survive waves of zombies. You do this by buying up new weapons and ammos, unlocking more areas, etc. Perhaps the most surprising thing about Black Ops Zombies is that it only comes with one map; Kino Der Toten. And while it’s a good map, it comes as a surprise.
Surely more maps will follow in updates, as they did with the previous game, but still, it’s a weird to think someone at Activision thought “hey, let’s release it with only one map”. Black Ops Zombies also has four player coop mode, and now has voice chat. You can take this as a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how well you can tolerate some of the younger online players.
To compensate for this, the game does have one new mode: Dead-Ops Arcade. Basically, it’s a top-down shooter with dual stick controls, but with the same concept of the first person FPS. You’ll be moving around entering rooms, collecting weapon upgrades, rinse and repeat.
Surprisingly although I was focusing on the the normal map at first, I was pleasantly surprised when I tried Dead-Ops Arcade. It’s a fun, fast paced mode, and it actually feels more native control wise to the iPhone than the normal map, which is constantly reminding you that you’re playing on a touchscreen.
Our one complaint is the small amount of maps (well, it’s only one map). We’re confident more maps will be added shortly, but still, it’s a bit of a let down coming from the previous game, which had a large variety of maps to choose from.
While playing Dead-Ops is pretty fun, when you’re playing Black Ops Zombies it feels hollow, like it’s missing something. Unless you’re desperate to try out the new top-down view, I would wait out for a couple updates to add more content and perhaps fix some of the lag.