Vampire Season for iPad Review
When I first started playing 6waves's Vampire Season for iPad, I was positive that this entire review was going to be about how it's just a crummy clone of Plants vs. Zombies. After all, they're both undead-themed turret defense game tailored towards touch-screen enabled mobile platforms, and really, how much territory is there to explore in such a narrow genre? Well, I'm happy to report that Vampire Season completely trumped my expectations. This game is a joy to play, and with it's 3D rendered graphics and freedom from any sort of real grid-based gameplay, this game ends up feeling more like a polished tribute to old Warcraft 3 sessions than it does any sort of mobile game at all, much less PvZ.
The object of each of the 30 levels is to protect Dracula's coffin from waves of attackers by mobilizing an army of undead soldiers that you purchase with resources that are mined for you at a predetermined rate. Each level has it's own specific time limit for how long you need to stay alive to win, and there are three increasingly difficult limits to reach per level. These are the only constants. The variety of maps throughout the story mode is very refreshing and forces to come up with new strategies each time, rather than adapting the exact same one to a new wrinkle each time, and the extreme degree to which you can upgrade and modify your peons with gained coins and various unlockable items provides a large amount of depth to an otherwise simple game premise. It was highly enjoyable to plan out strategies, especially on the many levels that are too large to see on the screen all at once, and the constant stream of new units that join you along the way, are a joy to manage with the tight controls and slick touch-based drag and drop interface. However, fights do get chaotic sometimes, and more than once I had trouble dropping my chosen item on the correct unit.
Another fun feature is that some units combine with each other to form entirely different units when you place them on top of each other. I first did this on accident, and was delighted to find that zombie I'd dropped on my vampire had morphed it into a "zampire" with a whole new set of properties. Unfortunately, the same problem I had with the items sometimes occurs with the monster fusions, too, and I often found myself with more zampires than I had intended zamping around on the battlefield. There are other monster fusions as well, but I won't spoil them here. Just let it be known that they are indeed fun and a largely positive aspect of the game. The survival mode is enjoyable as well, though not really as an alternative to the superior story mode, but it's nice to know it's there for longevity's sake, and GameCenter support doesn't hurt either.
I was playing this game on an iPad 2, and even without a retina display, the smoothness of the graphics and the high production quality really go a long way towards making you forget that this a free download from the app store. It just feels legit to play, and it's exciting when a game has that going for it. The sound effects and soundtrack are at once spooky and goofy, and even the writing, which doesn't even really need to exist at all in a game like this, is funny and enjoyable, if a bit cliched. (I mean, how many more Chuck Norris jokes do we NEED?)
The only thing about this game that works totally against itself, is the constant and unceasing stream of invitations to spend money on it. The prices for the unit upgrades are hilariously high, and in-between each level, this stuffy old vampire wizard graphic comes up, literally just to ask you for money. Also, once you hit level 10, the difficulty sharply rises, making the game almost impossible for people who aren't willing to plunk a little sumthin' sumthin' down for unit upgrades, which is a bit of a bummer.
In conclusion, get this fantastic addictive game because, DUH, it's FREE, but expect to spend a little money if you want to get everything out of it.