Slaughtering Nazi Zombies in Call of Duty Is Not as Insanely Fun on iPhoneS

For some reason, shanking a Nazi zombie and watching a mist blood spray across the screen, with five more waiting to gnaw my arm off in a dark, disgusting prison cell just isn't as much on the iPhone.

Call of Duty World at War: Zombies replicates the best part of Treyarch's otherwise inferior Call of Duty game—Nazi Zombies—to the iPhone. It looks great. It sounds great. And parts of it, like the multiplayer over Wi-Fi, work great.

It doesn't feel great though. The controls suck. We're all used to the inherently mediocre virtual joystick, a pale translation of a three-dimensional control implement into a flat two-dimensional space, which here moves you backward and forward, and strafes left and right. Turning and looking up and down is both finicky and imprecise, accomplished by sliding your thumb in the direction you want to turn or look—a longer slide makes you turn faster and further. What's tricky, and tensely uncomfortable, is trying to turn while moving with the virtual joystick. It winds up being jerky and spinny, like your soldier had one two many peppermint schnappes before fighting the undead.

Even with the computer helping your sorry ass aim—a little too much, actually—it just doesn't work. Often, you'll try to turn by swiping your thumb and accidentally tap the button to aim down your sites, or fire, sending your bullets past the zombie, who proceeds to om-nom-nom on your brains. Knifing is still awesome though.

Update: There are two alternate control schemes—a dual joystick mode that confines the turning area to a second joystick, making it slightly more precise than the general corner area controls of the default layout (though it's still tricky), and an accelerometer mode, that's unwieldy, but more fun since you have to swing your whole phone around to aim. Still, it's hard to feel totally in control here.

But in the end, the lack of tight controls crushes the whole experience, which is otherwise a pitch-perfect translation, down to Activision planning to charge for add-on maps on top of the $10 you already paid for the game.

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[iTunes]