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Alive 4-Ever Review single & multiplayer

Alive 4-Ever logo
JamieO and ipodgamer Co-Operation Carnage!

This is the first of hopefully many TiG FPRs (First Person Reviews). We have decided to alter the format of our review section for co-op games and now we review multiplayer as a two way conversation between two members of the TiG team.

JamieO and ipodgamer have combined efforts to survive the horrors of Meridian's zombie apocalypse shooter and found two guns to be superior to one, for annihilating the persistent undead.

Graphics

JamieO: The 2D top down presentation reminds me in particular of the subtle differences between 16 bit SNES and MegaDrive/ Genesis graphics. The Mega Drive was capable of displaying bright colours and cute characters, but there was an element of developers portraying games on that system with gritty details and darker use of shading through its colour palette. This created a moody atmosphere and a more grown up feel to some games, even though 2D sprites and backgrounds are almost considered a basic, immature form of presentation today.

ipodgamer: I agree in principle the graphics of the game certainly make for a dark chilling atmospheric journey into the depths of a zombie killer's soul. Tension is built via claustrophobic containment, possibly due in part to the limitations of the platform's hardware (i.e. levels are very closed off and for those who enjoy the wide open spaces, be prepared to lose your comfort blanket and feel totally boxed in).

JamieO: In a way the environment size is well designed to offer lots more room for escape than something like Smash TV, but it is closed off and tight enough to keep zombie attacks tense. The game, particularly in later levels and for multiplayer, is well capable of sending out intimidating, overwhelming numbers of enemy sprites.

ipdogamer: Sprites are accurately rendered and animation is fluid and smooth, with no noticeable frame rate issues for either iPhone 3G or iPod touch 2G. The choice to employ top down gameplay is enhanced by the intricate detail of the sprites and backgrounds.

JamieO: I really enjoyed Meridian's choice of locations, the shopping mall (ipodgamer saw it as a station building) fits in with my idea of 'Dawn of the Dead' and the battered streets and deserted cars created an apocalyptic, disaster movie feel. However, the forest level with intrusive dark colours and zombie sheltering bushes was treading a thin line between tense atmosphere and frustrating obstruction.

Alive 4-Ever Screen 1ipodgamer: Much in the same way that Doom 3's gameplay mechanic is based around shadows and darkness, Alive 4-Ever particularly on the forest levels adheres to a similar format. Unfortunately, and I am in agreement here, the balance between fear and out and out frustration does not add to the single player gaming experience. However, in co-op mode the darkness is not such a limiting factor and the tension that the gloom is designed to create is achieved successfully.

JamieO: As much as I can shoehorn a retro comparison in a graphics description, I knew that you would stick your own PC FPS analysis in here, too. One last point is that the choice of four characters can be easily distinguished, whilst playing multiplayer.

ipodgamer: Speaking of PC FPS, the most current gameplay comparison that can be made to Alive 4-Ever has to be Valve's PC 'big daddy' of a game, 'Left for Dead'. Although the graphics in 'Left for Dead' are vastly superior, the unnerving atmosphere created via Alive 4-Ever's visuals allows for an experience that is comparable with those found on the more powerful, PC platform.

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Audio

JamieO: I played this co-op with a mate whilst other friends were at a party and there were a number of comments referring to the creepiness of the sound. In a similar regard to the graphical detail as much care and attention has been spent in building a menacing atmosphere through the audio. The sweep and flow of the piano score, the deep moans of enemies, cries for help from survivors and the transition between regular stages and anxious boss battle music is simply, absolutely superb.

Alive4ever Screen 2ipodgamer: In addition to this, I am most impressed by the sense of power that the audio for the various weapons in the game creates. The rat-a-tat-tat of the M16 is particularly gratifying as it tears through rotten zombie flesh and bone. I am especially fond of the macabre groans and the tingling sensation this creates down my spine, it reminds me of my cautious navigation through corridors of the UNN Rickenbacker, whilst being stalked by the Many in System Shock 2.

JamieO: Another ipodgamer PC comparison to provide fitting praise to what is an ominous, disturbing soundtrack, perfectly in tune with the gruesome gameplay.

Gameplay

ipodgamer: The gameplay in Alive 4-Ever although meeting the de-facto standard for survival shooters, has by default much more to offer than initially meets the eye. Although the object of the game is to remain "alive", there are plenty of additional gameplay mechanics that are employed to enhance this game to a higher level than just another top down, twin stick shooter. For example, many of the stages feature a task to rescue one or more survivors, plus to truly own the game achievement hounds have the option to complete additional challenges within each stage.

JamieO: Alive 4-Ever's gameplay stands out with the variety of tasks it presents to the player. Multiply this by the change in game mechanics for co-op play and you have a diverse playing game. The play experience changes when one player is collecting a vaccine and the other is covering their back. The main lesson ipodgamer and I learnt was the importance of sticking together, although there is a risk and reward element in deciding to split up. I particularly enjoyed the tension created by the developer throwing a far greater hoard of zombies at co-op players and the nail biting, seconds countdown anticipation of waiting for one player to be revived.

ipodgamer: Much like the single player version of the game, your strength and skill set is enhanced by upgrading weaponry, careful selection of Ability Points and equipment. Each successful traversal through a stage awards EXP juice which is displayed in green in your base camp menu screen. The more EXP you generate the more you can spend on upgrading Ability Points.

Alive4ever Screen 3

JamieO: The EXP and Ability Point building element of Alive 4-Ever is the baited hook that reels me back to my iPhone on a daily basis. However, be warned leveling up starts at a rapid pace, but slows down exponentially the stronger you become. If you want to build a level 33 character like mine the only option is to grind and be prepared for progress to slow down the further you advance.

Playing through scene 29 will reward greater EXP than playing scene 12 and is a process that is abundantly more fun in multiplayer. Also take into account that even if you have finished scene 30, once you start on co-op you are only allowed to play through stages which have already been completed together. This means that you may be starting again from scratch.

Control

ipodgamer: Twin sticks are utilised for movement and unloading of weaponry. Unlike many top down shooters there are various on screen control buttons such as the reload, 'follow me' and item 'pick up' icons. Controls are a no brainer, well executed and intuitive.

JamieO: Smooth, fluid and reliable controls, exactly as ipodgamer had identified.

Lastability

Jamie O: More so than any other iPhone dual stick shooter, Alive 4-Ever excels in this area. It provides 30 action packed levels and draws the player into extended play sessions through the addictive process of leveling up their character, buying new weapons and building Ability Points. Once a gamer embarks on the multiplayer campaign they will be motivated to continue progress to match the stature of their fellow zombie slayer. This game plays on my obsessive gaming nature, insisting that I complete challenges as well the basic objectives.

Alive4ever Screen 4

ipodgamer: I concur, so far both JamieO and myself have dedicated a significant portion of time, yet we both feel that there is plenty of carnage to come and we will remain Alive 4-Ever.

Value

ipodgamer: Meridian Digital Entertainment and many others releasing games for 59p (99c) are making a mockery for a well though out value section in TiG's game reviews. As value for money Alive 4-Ever is well and truly weighted in favour of the consumer. 59p will no longer buy you a quality chocolate bar in the UK. Go and buy this now.

JamieO: Here is a gaming calculation for you; 59p + superb shooter = iPhone bargain.

Presentation

ipodgamer: The standard of presentation on the latest releases for the iPhone show a marked improvement over previous efforts. Alive 4-Ever is a perfect example of how presentation of game menus etc should be implemented on iPhone. Menus are situated in intuitive regions on the screen, are concise, clear and easy to follow.

JamieO: Whilst ipodgamer and I experienced smooth bluetooth connections between iPhone 3G and iPod touch 2G, I found that linking my iPhone 3G to another friend's iPod touch 2G was not as reliable and would occasionally drop the connection. Whether or not this is a one off incident can not be verified, although it should be noted that our bluetooth connection became stronger with prolonged play time.

TiG Review Score

Graphics Rating:
8
Control Rating:
9
Gameplay Rating:
9
Value Rating:
9
TiG Overall Rating:
(not an average)
9