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Tactical Soldier: Undead Rising Review
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Tactical Soldier: Undead Rising, a tactical turn-based RPG game from Full Control ApS that features squad-based gameplay and hordes of the walking dead, is now available from the app store. Armed with a variety of deadly weapons and your strategic wits, you’ll be hard-pressed to get your whole squad out alive.

Tactical Soldier: Undead Rising Pros:

  • Fun strategic turn-based game
  • Gritty and brooding graphics fit the game type
  • Audio complements the gameplay nicely
  • RPG elements give depth
  • Variety of weapons and enemies
  • GameCenter achievements

Tactical Soldier: Undead Rising Cons:

  • Camera view can be cumbersome to control due to conflicting gestures
  • Controls require a good deal of re-tapping or zooming to select the intended target
  • Game pace is a bit slow, moving groups can be tedious and boring

Trapped in an army research base that has been overrun by flesh-eating baddies, you’ll need to fight your way out through any means necessary. There are 8 levels of gruesome play contained within the story-driven, single-player campaign, which is interspersed with comic book panels that delve deeper into the overarching plot. While some might find this style interesting, we didn’t find it overly compelling and typically skipped through these sections after reading the first few. At the game’s start, you only control a single soldier as you learn the game’s mechanics. You practice moving through the level, picking up objects, shooting weapons, opening doors, and the like. Pretty soon, you’ll find yourself on your own, managing with the small skill set you’ve developed. As you progress, you’ll gain new members of your squad.

Each of your guys has a number of action points per turn to expend by moving, attacking, reloading, or any combination of these moves. You’re given objectives such as going to a certain building, which may require you first to find a key card. As you walk around, zombies will appear and try to get close enough to attack you. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by always attacking or just running away, so you must use a combination of the two to attack and keep some distance. Your attacks, as well as those levied by the zombies, are not always guaranteed to be effective. Some turns will be misses, which can be frustrating when attacking or a relief when being attacked. Like any RPG, you earn experience points for killing enemies, leveling up every so often and earning skill points that can be used to improve attributes such as health, speed, luck, defense, and effectiveness with your main weapon categories. These will improve the percentage of damage you inflict, your likelihood of dodging attacks, the number of action points you receive on a turn, etc.

The weapons that become available are varied and fun to use. In addition to the handgun you start with, you’ll be able to use an assault rifle, a chainsaw, and a sniper rifle. There are also grenades to be found on dead bodies, med packs that replenish health, key cards for door access, and other items that can improve your chances. Appropriate use of these items can mean the difference between survival and death. Each guy has his own weapons, attributes, health supplies, etc. Items and weapons can be swapped between guys, with this teamwork being the key to keeping everyone alive in many cases.

The game takes place in a 3D world that offers a gritty, desolate feel. Nice lighting effects help to create an interesting atmosphere and walls that would normally block your view go translucent to avoid impeding your ability to see what’s going on at all times. The quality of the graphics is evident as you zoom in to get a nice close view of blood smears and other nasty messes. The ground is divided into squares, and movements are initiated by tapping a square to select and tapping again to confirm. This can be a bit touchy and may require zooming in to tap the intended square. The player will walk the shortest distance to reach the square, using an action point for each square. Attacking requires you to tap on the weapon button and then tap on the square of the zombie that you’d like to attack. Similarly, tapping a grenade and selecting its target square will toss it into the mix, hopefully killing nearby zombies, but also doing shrapnel damage to any of your players who are too close. You can also initiate an overwatch, where you direct a guy to train his attention in a specific direction. He’ll fire on any enemies moving in that area until they die or he runs out of ammo. This is selected by tapping the crouch button and choosing a tile in the desired direction. Picking up and using objects requires tapping the hand button and tapping the square that has the sparkles over it, which indicate the ability to interact. This will open your inventory screen that allows you to equip weapons, carry objects, and add skill points. You can also open doors this way.

A dynamic camera system allows you to fully view all areas of the environment with simple gestures, though it can be clumsy to use, as two different movement types use similar mechanics. Panning around is handled by swiping a single finger across the screen. Zooming in/out requires the familiar pinch gesture. Rotating your view uses a two-finger twisting motion, which can be confused with zooming, often resulting in a combination of spinning and zooming that causes you to have to fool with the viewpoint more than expected to make it do what you want. It seems a little oversensitive to our gestures and was probably our biggest source of frustration. Game pacing was a little slow overall, as moving four guys individually as a group can be tedious. Also, battles take place one attack at a time, requiring you to double-tap an enemy square for each pull of the trigger. Some situations almost overwhelm you with zombies that end up planting you in one place and attacking turn after turn without making much movement progress, which also makes getting across the level seem to take forever. Sound quality is pretty good, creating a chilling atmosphere that matches the creepy gameplay.

Replay value is all right, with GameCenter integration for achievements to earn. Otherwise, the main reason to play again would simply be for the experience. Tactical Soldier is a universal app, so it will work on iPhone/iPod as well as the iPad, although it should be noted that that minimum hardware requirements are the iPhone 3GS and 4th gen iPod. At $4.99, Tactical Soldier: Undead Rising is a very solid 3.5-Dimple offering.

Tactical Soldier: Undead Rising Review, reviewed by Kevin on 2011-03-31T22:55:49+00:00 rating 3.5 out of 5

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