iPad App Review: Chinese Zombie War

iPad App Review: Chinese Zombie War

July 2nd, 2011 by

Jiang Shi are a type of zombie in Chinese folklore that more closely resemble the Western idea of a vampire. They hop around at night, arms outstretched, trying to kill living creatures in order to absorb their qi.

Chinese Zombie War pits you against wave after wave of different types of Chinese-style zombies, your only defense a rickety wooden fence and a small selection of traditional zombie weapons.

How It Works

There are a total of 11 levels, each more difficult than the last. You are gradually introduced to different types of enemies and different types of weapons, with the loading screen for each level serving as a basic tutorial. If a zombie manages to hop their way to your fence they will knock a piece off, and further attacks in that spot with result in your death. Zombies stay within their initial column of attack except for these little creepy fast guys, who can change lanes to get around slower enemies. Think “Plants Vs. Zombies” except you are in the point of view of the plants, watching as the zombies appear from the fog in the distance.

Tapping on a zombie places a sort of marker on its face: the easiest zombies require just one. There are fast little zombies that require two attacks to kill, huge fat zombies that require three, and an archer that requires at least two attacks with the second timed for the moments after he removes the first marker from his face. A ghost also makes an appearance, forming a sort of moving obstacle throughout the level since she cannot be killed and should never be attacked.

Special weapons at your eventual disposal are a handbell, which freezes all zombies on the screen and makes all of your attacks on them critical (meaning just one hit kills them); and a Ba Gua mirror, which kills all of the zombies on the screen (but again does not kill the ghost, though a Ba Gua attack will not anger her the way a traditional attack does). Your special weapons recharge slowly, the mirror a little more slowly than the bell, so use them sparingly.

Pros And Cons

Chinese Zombie War is a fun Eastern twist on the usual zombie defense games that use heavy weapons and explosives (or, you know, plants) to stop hordes of zombies. Having only traditional and seemingly improvised weaponry at your disposal heightens the tension and makes an already naturally scary game even more frightening. Rather than being a cathartic “Let’s blow everything up as quickly as possible” type of experience, the slower-than-usual pace and limited weapons give the game an element of strategy that a lot of defense games lack. You can’t just spam bullets everywhere while lobbing the occasional grenade.

The graphics and sound are clear and immersive, and the choice to put this game only on the iPad is a good one. The larger screen and Unity 3D engine make this a great game to play in a darkened room.

The only complaint I could raise is with the length of the game. With only 11 levels it won’t take you very long to finish, and there is very little if any replay value. It’s a very, very fun game to play but the fun doesn’t last long.


Chinese Zombie War is a terrific zombie defense game that sets itself apart from other similar titles by incorporating traditional Chinese legends and mysticism. It’s a short game, at least for now, but at $1.99 it’s only around 20% of the price of a theater movie ticket and half the price of a Frappuccino. Forgo a Starbucks coffee for one day and fight some Chinese zombies!

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