The Call of Duty series has become an international phenomenon, and 2008's Call of Duty: World at War took everyone by surprise with its outstanding "Nazi Zombie" cooperative multiplayer mode. This mode has now made its way to mobile handsets, and despite some shortcomings, the iPhone version of World at War is an impressive game.
Unlike the usual squad-based gameplay seen in the Call of Duty series, the Nazi Zombies mode places you in a walled-in map filled with oncoming undead Nazis and requires you to stay alive for as long as possible. While this starts off easy, hordes of zombies eventually start to rush you in large groups and you must use everything at your disposal, including an extravagant array of weapons, grenades, and barricades, to combat them.
While blowing zombies apart is exciting, it's the graphics in this port of Nazi Zombies that really make it impressive. It looks so good it could almost pass for a full-on console game, and even when tons of zombies are onscreen the frame rate rarely stutters. The lighting is also good--enemies and scenery clearly stand out while not detracting from the game's eerie atmosphere.
World at War: Zombies also shows impressive attention to detail. Different guns have their own reload animations, and the abandoned factory level is believably littered with junk. The game uses multiple injury and death animations for zombies depending on where you hit them, including bloody explosions that reward headshots.
One unique aspect of the game is its sense of progression. You start off with only a pistol on the base level of a map, but as you collect more money, you can destroy objects blocking your path and adventure through the massive factory. As you progress, you can purchase new weapons and secrets. Eventually, you'll get your mitts on such powerful weaponry as a high-powered dart gun, a flamethrower, and a double-barreled shotgun. Each weapon has its own unique properties, and all are useful when mastered.
Controls are always important for a shooter, and the dual-stick option (which you can customize with an inverted y-axis and adjustable sensitivity for both axes) works very well. Movement works just as it would with a standard console controller (the left onscreen stick is used for walking while the right is used to look around). You fire your weapon by tapping on the right stick, and if you double-tap and hold it down you release a steady stream of bullets. There are two additional control settings, but those are less precise. In addition, the game offers a "smart targeting" aim-assistance system that can't be turned off unless you're zooming in with a scoped weapon. When you target an enemy, your crosshairs will snap to that foe to give you a better chance of scoring a hit. You still need to make some adjustments in order to score headshots, but this feature generally seems helpful.
The original version of Nazi Zombies on consoles was most popular as a co-op game, and this version of the game brings zombie-stomping co-op to the iPhone in all its glory. Occasional connection issues aside, online (only over a wireless connection, not 3G), local Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth multiplayer all work great. Though you can queue up randomly for the next game, World at War: Zombies also lets you host a private match. Trying to hunt down a specific match hosted by your buddies can sometimes be a pain, since game names are case-sensitive and require you to be very specific when entering the name.
The biggest shortcoming in this version of the game is the amount of content you get. With only one map available, there will never be much variation in your strategy. However, with dozens of achievements up for grabs and online leaderboards to compete on, there's definitely some replay value here. World at War: Zombies is a great port of the extremely successful multiplayer mode from Call of Duty: World at War. The lack of content, high price point, and occasional connection issues with the servers are somewhat disappointing, but gunning zombies with your buddies is still a blast.
This review was provided by GameSpot mobile content partner SlideToPlay.com.