Game review: Radiation City – fun zombie survival, but shows the limitations of mobile gaming
After crash-landing in Pripyat, the city that was abandoned after the Chernobyl disaster in the 1980s, players have to survive by scavenging, finding shelter and avoiding zombies in this attractive but slightly clunky mobile game
Post-apocalyptic scenarios are quite common in video games. For those sitting comfortably with their consoles or computers, or travelling with their mobile devices, it’s always fun to be thrown into a situation where they’re forced to survive and fight off hordes of radiation-ravaged monsters.
Radiation City (iPhone and iPad) is one of a few fully realised, 3D post-apocalyptic games for mobile devices.
In this action-adventure game, you play a pilot who’s crashed in the abandoned Ukrainian city of Pripyat, decades after the disaster at the nearby Chernobyl nuclear power plant, and your only goals are to scavenge, craft objects and occasionally fight as you to try to make it through another night.
Radiation City is presented in the first-person, and using this intense perspective you creep around the disconcertingly quiet wasteland and houses before coming into contact with the zombies. They’re angry little things, speedy and tough to kill. You don’t have any guns at your disposal so your only real combat option is to melee the undead with a range of crowbars, knives and other household items.
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Your best option is to run and hide, hoarding as much as you can before finding a decent place to shelter for the night. Your lead character is surprisingly human, a departure from the super strong protagonists of most survival games, and you’ll quickly succumb to hunger, thirst, cold, danger and other challenges. Solving those problems is initially challenging, and a little frustrating, but you soon learn to balance the many elements before falling into a rhythm.
For a mobile game, Radiation City is shockingly impressive from an audiovisual standpoint – its gorgeously bleak backgrounds are almost beautiful at times and its soundtrack is a low-pitched horror masterwork. However, the character models and indoor environments are often pretty bad, and the controls are clumsy and hard to navigate.
That contrast is a stark reminder of the mobile gaming format’s many limitations. We’ve got to hand it to the developers of Radiation City, though – they’ve managed to create an impressive post-apocalyptic game for the small screen, sacrificing only what was absolutely necessary.
The game is far from perfect, and nothing you haven’t seen or played before, but what it does, it does pretty well.