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Alasdair Stuart on the ultimate mobile zombie-killing experience

As titles go, Zombie Gunship throws up images of glorious, Bayhem-filled trash, as brash, heroic US marines, one of whom is almost certainly played by Tyrese Gibson, do battle with zombies, possibly by shouting at them. You know the sort of thing – yelling, wisecracks, explosions, slow motion, Linkin Park track on the end credits. Not that that’s a bad thing. Hell, I’d watch that movie. Chances are, more than once.

Zombie Gunship , though, is something much more interesting and, oddly, haunting, than its name suggests. This mobile game puts you behind the gunsight of a C130 “Spooky”, a modified cargo aircraft fitted with escalating calibres of weapon. You start with a 25mm minigun and, the more zombies you kill, the larger the calibre of the weapons you can afford. The 105mm howitzer is particularly good fun, firing a single shot that throws a huge cloud of dust out and atomises any zombie that’s unfortunate enough to be nearby. You can also increase each weapon’s damage radius, reload speed, how fast the bullet travels and how fast the weapon fires, allowing you to chain attacks together.

Which, I know, sounds pretty Bayhemtastic. But the game’s genius – and melancholia – comes from its minimal, photorealistic design. The gunship is locked in a parking orbit over a survivors’ compound, with you having to fend off the endless streams of zombies heading towards it whilst simultaneously not murdering the endless streams of civilians also making a run towards the compound. You’re viewing all this through a night sight, so the zombies show up black and people show up white. When they die, they die ugly, with even your smallest calibre weapon blowing your victims into multiple pieces. Carnage is a very real, constant part of the game and whilst its massively satisfying to turn a column of zombies into pate, the game’s final stroke of genius puts even this into a very dark, very unusual light.

You can’t win. At least not forever. Much as with classics like Missile Command , the best you can hope for is holding as many zombies off as possible until one gets through, the compound is locked down and you’re recalled. The worst you can hope for is murdering three civilians and being benched because you’ve gone crazy. Except, you won’t be benched for long because, after all, when there’s no more room in hell...

Zombie Gunship is a near perfect smartphone game. It’s incredibly simple, utterly intuitive, elegant and provides exactly the sort of instant gratification futzing around on your phone for 10 minutes needs. What makes it shine, though, is the incredible atmosphere and tension. This is a very different take on the zombie genre, and action games, so if you’re looking for something different, and fun, then take to the skies and prepare to lay down some suppressive fire. We’ve got survivors coming in and someone’s got to protect them, so why not you?

Zombie Gunship is available now through the iTunes store .