Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies Review

By , on December 5, 2011

Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies
Download on the AppStore
3 out of 5


  • Solid replication of the original mode with accommodations for the smaller platform.
  • Serviceable controls; auto-aim can be turned off to retain some sense of challenge.
  • 'Unlockable' twin-stick arcade mode; fun, if a bit hollow.
  • Voice-chat for co-op multiplayer.


  • Netcode for online play currently spotty; latency can cause serious performance problems.
  • Shallow and drawn out difficulty curve; it can take a LONG time to reach genuinely challenging fights.


Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies almost succeeds in transplanting the console version of the game to the iOS platform, but balance issues, network problems, and a serious lack of variety make it hard to swallow the price of entry.

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For those yet to try out Call of Duty's interestingly themed co-op addition to their main series, the 'Zombies' titles represent a fun and frantic distraction from an otherwise serious first person shooter. Its initial conversion to the iOS platform was far from well received and its 'sequel' was appreciated even less, but is the third time a charm for Activision's Black Ops Zombies?

The game tasks you with the seemingly impossible challenge of defending a map from its unholy attackers for as long as possible - it's practically a suicide mission, but at least you'll take out plenty of the blighters before succumbing to the final embrace of death. The map in question (as there's only one available at the time of this review) is the appropriately named "Kino der Toten" (or 'Cinema of the Dead'), one of the real standouts from the console platform.

Whether you take on the task solo or join a co-operative multiplayer match (local and online options available), you'll find yourself mowing down zombies, wracking up points in the process, and repairing defenses to slow down the inevitable tide of enemies. These points can be used to open up new areas, which in turn weakens your defenses by providing more spawning areas for the zombies, but it also means you can eventually activate defenses or powerful upgrades designed to prolong your current game.

Unfortunately it all falls flat once you've overcome the initial difficulty of escaping the first area. Zombies only spawn in limited amounts, giving you a chance to run around and funnel them through choke-points for easy grenade blasts (or trap kills) and the inclusion of a powerful auto-aim ensures you're unlikely to run out of ammunition any time soon even with the rather poor 'tap to fire' control system that should be banished from almost any FPS on the platform.

It's a shame because so much of the experience feels so perfectly replicated and having to wait out wave after wave just to reach something challenging gets monotonous on the same map. Thankfully players can distract themselves with an entirely separate top-down twin-stick shooter mode that tries to emulate the Smash TV formula, but aside from the initial amusement it gives it also plateaus in its difficulty all too soon.

As such, other concerns such as poor netcode for the co-op feel slightly irrelevant if the basic game doesn't chalk up a worthwhile challenge, making Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies a disappointing third entry for the series. Hopefully updates address these concerns quickly as the excellent game mode deserves a solid mobile counterpart.


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