Popular culture has taught me a thing or two over the years. One is that catsâ€”although adorable and poofy at first glanceâ€”are diligently working on intricate schemes of world domination. Another is that one of these days we’re all going to have a zombie apocalypse to deal with. GoodTEAM studios’ new Android game Mission of Crisis blends both crazy memes into one enjoyable and tactics-fueled experience.
The world’s gone all kinds of screwy for Mission of Crisis‘ canine inhabitants. The end is nigh, and it comes in the form of kitty-zombie hordes fiending for brains – and catnip, perhaps. And for reasons unknown they’ve kidnapped the royal puppies. I suppose that proves zombie cats have higher levels of brain function than everyday human zombies. Either way, it’s all up to the Bad Dog Rangersâ€”a daring, highly-trained special mission force, or what would have happened if Junkyard left Mutt to strike out on his ownâ€”to bring the royal puppies back home and resend those zombie felines to the giant sandbox in the sky.
The game begins with a snappy tutorial from your communications liaison Mei on how to effectively control your characters (two of which are available from jumpâ€”Matt, the machine gunner and Angie your faithful sniper) and how to lay waste to the rabid gang of Tardars you’ll soon encounter. Both actions are done by touch, so it’s not hard to figure out. After you’ve dealt with that, you’re rewarded a few crystals (one of the two in-game currencies) that you can spend in the item and weapon upgrade shop. The mission map then appears and upon touching the start icon we’re greeted by an overhead jungle playfield that gives us a bird’s eye view of the oncoming zombie waves. And now the game is all about the tactics you employ.
As mentioned before, you’re in control of two characters, and you play as both simultaneously. It starts off easy but before long the way you position your player characters and adjust from there is vital to the success of your mission. You’ll soon find yourself running and gunning, setting up crossfire opportunities, and funneling your hairball-hacking foes through chokepoints on the fly. And of course you can shoot the red barrels. As you progress, objectives change (you’re required to destroy a zombie alarm tower, for example), and new types of zombies appear (quick-moving, projectile-spewing ones, for example) and as they do, your characters and techniques must evolve to keep up. To help with that there is a store accessible between missions where you can buy upgrades to your weapons and life extending equipment and potions. Mission of Crisis does follow the freemium model, but since both gems and coins can be obtained during regular gameplay, you only have to pay-to-play if you’re unwilling to grind.
In addition to the regular game, once you conquer stage three you’re given the opportunity to go online and challenge other players. You’re actually paid in-game currency to play this mode, making it a great way to upgrade, but be vigilant because if you fail to collect your pay in time it could be stolen by other players. The gameplay for this mode takes place a little differently than you might imagine. You join a server and choose a player to attack. Instead of engaging in a head-to-head duel you fight a base surrounded by cat-zombies that represents that player. You destroy the wave and then concentrate fire on the base. As you attack it a timer appears that announces when the next wave of zombies will appear. Rinse and repeat until the base goes boom, or your dogs bite the big one. It’s a nice addition that keeps the game from going stale too soon.
The graphics do their job. The environments aren’t groundbreaking by any means, but they do have a nice retro style that reminds this reviewer of such games as Metal Gear for the NES. The character designs may be a point of dissension for some, as they are decidedly anthropomorphic. Furry, even.
The sound design here is pretty good. The music booms with a certain synth urgency that makes you want to strap on your combat boots and take arms. It wouldn’t be out of place in a shooter. The sound effects are also pretty good (with sharp weapon sounds and goofy digital voices), though both could use more variety.
If I had to harp on one thing, it would be the mediocre quality of the translation. It’s a bit better than the days of “A winner is you,” but it’s still pretty awful. I suppose I could also say that the story is freaking weird, but that’s a plus to some.
Mission of Crisis is a decent package. It may not excel in any one quality, but the gameplay is fun enough, the missions are challenging enough, and the replay ability is high enough to recommend it for fans of the strategy/tactics genres. I say give it a shot!