Price: FREE     Score: 7/10    Category: Games

Zombie Farm is the result of two over-used game elements colliding. On one hand we have the bogged down, money-grabbing farm simulation game. It’s a genre that relies less on creativity and more on forcing the player to relentlessly tend to their farm and crops, penalizing them for not constantly checking in, making adjustments, and just maybe making a few in-game purchases on the side. On the other hand…zombies.

Zombie-themed games must account for over half of the content on the iOS platform, and it appears that the folks at The Playforge figured that if you’ve been farmed out by the seemingly endless barrage of OCD games, perhaps the zombie craze would be enough to rope you in. Well folks, don’t be fooled. Aside from a few amusing gimmicks and a lovely presentation, Zombie Farm is nothing new.

In Zombie Farm, you’ll raise an army of the undead, which you can then use to stage an invasion in order to harvest brains, which you can then turn around and trade in for more crops, tools, and other upgrades. This is actually quite a nice touch and certainly the highlight of the game. Unfortunately, the rest of the game is just more of the same. You’ll begin with a small plot of land and a handful of coins. In order to get your invasion in order, you’ll need at least eight zombies, and growing them is neither cheap nor quick. In fact, to grow one zombie, you’ll have to wait upwards of three real-time hours. And if you’re not able to pick up the game three hours later to harvest your zombie? Tough luck, pal. That zombie will wither in the ground and you’ll have to replant, costing you more coins.

Fortunately, you can make some relatively-quick cash in other ways. Namely, by planting actual vegetables. Some veggies take around fifteen minutes, while others can take days. Of course, the longer you wait, the better the payoff, as you can sell these veggies for a tidy profit.

Of course, there’s always the shortcut to success: in-game purchases. You can buy your “coins” and “brains” with actual real-life money. And therein lies the rub. To be fair, this isn’t unique to Zombie Farm, as every Farmville clone in existence thrives off of this model. The unfortunate part is that very few of these games have figured out how to make a well-paced experience without milking its users for cash. True, it’s the nature of this particular beast to tend to the farm and crops slowly over time, checking in regularly for updates. But when so many, including Zombie Farm, feel like quick cash-grabs, it’s a hard model to defend.

But let’s say, for argument’s sake, that you’re in the market for a new farm sim, and you don’t mind either being infinitely patient or spending a few dollars here and there to improve your experience. If that’s the case, Zombie Farm does have quite a bit going for it. The zombie theme, despite being one of the most overused elements in existence, works well here, and is reminiscent of the smash hit Plants vs. Zombies. The menus are clever and charming, and the different zombie types can be quite useful and entertaining. The game is animated and laid out quite well, making navigation a breeze. So, to its credit, Zombie Farm does the Farmville thing quite nicely.

Bottom Line: Despite its complete lack of originality and its tendency to milk players for real-life money, Zombie Farm manages to be a nice take on the farming simulation genre.

Zombie Farm is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.

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