While I was searching for good shooters on android I stumbled upon a game called Zombie Frontier 3D. Thinking it would be a really cool shooter, I downloaded and installed it on my Android device. But it was not quite what I expected. ZF3 was developed by FT games and for an android game it isn’t a bad try.
Zombie Frontier does not have a proper storyline even though there is some cryptic text provided before each round on the mission tree which is kind of like a story though not quite. You are in a dark and unforgiving world full of zombies and you have to explore for and protect survivors. But this exploration is not even barely defined by the user and you can’t go yourself to find people or items in an open-worldish setting. In fact you cannot move at all on your own in Zombie Frontier.
The movement is handled by the game, not the player. And I had to wonder what the game would be if it was more run and gun (or allow you to run behind cover?) rather than standing at one spot and shooting (with the purpose of not letting the zombies close in on you). You are always fixed where you are and shooting at hordes of approaching zombies. Instead of dodging enemy attacks you have to use quick shooting reflexes, good aim and headshots.
There is an overwhelmingly looming spotlight on these headshots. The head is the place zombies hurt most and that’s where you will be aiming most of the time (even though they can be killed with shots on the body). But this comes with a twist. Some enemies might have helmets on them that block gun rounds. Others may be zombified hounds. These hounds challenge your aiming and reflex skills because, obviously, their heads (as well as bodies) are closer to the ground. These dogs make you aim below while you have to aim higher if you are trying to hit normal targets. Switching between targets can be a challenge later on.
Yet, aiming effectively, and moving your gun reticle in harmony with the game is 70% of it. But you also have a wide variety of consumable items that can be used to improve your success likelihood. These include grenades, healing items, energy restores, and ammo boxes. But these are consumables and once you use them up you have to buy a new one by expending coins or gems.
Gems are what spoiled the game for me. No matter how many gems I earn during missions, ZF simply does not increase the amount of gems in my storage. I do not know if this is a bug or some mistake I am making, but this has busted the game for me completely. You need those gems to unlock weapons which I simply cannot do.
Then the difficulty sky-rockets in the case that you do not have a weapon rating at par with the optimal rating given for that particular round in each main mission branch. This rating is almost always correct. I have tried to play with a gun rating lower than the rounds rating and I have failed miserably the vast majority of times. Therefore having a good gun and equally impressive upgrades applied on it are the key to beating a particularly tough round.
ZF does not reward failures though. You would expect to get at least 1/4th the amount of the gold (that you would get if you win) a round if you fail. It is not the case. You have to upgrade your weaponry, buy a new weapon, use collectibles, or find any other way to succeed on those unrelenting rounds.
After completing a particular mission chain in each tier, you unlock the boss battle. These can be tough but they are enjoyable. Bosses have differentiated weaponry and outsized health gauges. After you complete these boss battles you can move on to the next tier.
But ZF3D contradicts its own lore. It explains that contact with zombie blood causes you contract the virus. But if contact with blood infects why does it take 10-15 zombie strikes for them to kill your character rather than one scratch that turns him into a zombie. By the games logic the player should have turned into a zombie a thousand times over.
I could not shake the feeling that Zombie Frontier was missing something, or could be made into something better. Maybe the protagonist could scavenge for weapons, upgrades and other collectibles. Maybe you could play a bigger role in finding survivors in this horrid and turbulent world. Or it could offer a glimpse of what is good about human’s, their adaptability and resilience. This resilience could take the form of sturdy settlements like those founded in the Walking Dead Tv series (or in The Division or Fallout) where inhabitants cling on to life, even while on the precipice of violent death or zombification at every turn. But I do acknowledge that though this would make ZF3D optimal, it is beyond the budget of some developers. But this developer was not one that lacked resources though.
I also wanted the protagonists feelings to come out as he remembered his (zombified?) family and kids or his reputation improve as he helped survivors. But ZF is not completely a lost case. The setting changes the moment you begin to feel bored. You move from hospitals to prisons and what not in the ruins of human urban life. Also maybe the character could make some interactive choices. Though that must be the PC gamer and Mass Effect lover talking.
The zombies are differentiated properly in ZF3 and some take up more bullets to kill, others run towards you and some toss green, toxic, slime upon you from a distance. And the shooting is not entirely boring either. You can also accomplish support missions or daily challenges, which help you try something different, other than your main missions and boss battles. As you would expect in a zombie game there is blood spattered everywhere in terms of the dark aesthetics and world building. The track stays true to its dark theme as well.
Still the biggest question that has always been plaguing my mind like the games “virus “while playing Zombie Frontier 3, is how can a shooter where you do not even have control of your own movement, be as entertaining as (a run and gun?) one where you do. I felt the lack of mobility was a major limitation, no, impediment. Zombie Frontier’s focus on headshots and quickly eliminating foes in combat before they get near, gun unlocks and upgrades, items, and making use of your environment at times, saves it from absolute mediocrity. It is nowhere near a boring game but there could be much that could improve it.
Review Platform: Android
- Good reflexes, aiming and headshots define ZF3
- Each round has a rating which compares your gun level with the round level. Neat tool that tells you about your odds in any battle.
- Differentiated zombies with different characteristics.
- Have access to bought collectibles like grenades and med kits which can improve your chances.
- Interestingly designed bosses.
- Has a serious problem where the gems you earn on missions are simply not added to your storage.
- More content in the form of the protagonists feelings, ability to scavenge for weapons or items and certain open world concepts could greatly augment this game.
- Cannot move at all. you are fixed at one spot and shooting.
- Game contradicts its lore. If blood infects the character should very quickly be effected.