Monday, March 19, 2012

ZOMBIES, RUN! (updated 03.22.2012)

There's a new and fun way to get healthy while being entertained out now - ZOMBIES, RUN! 

iTunes -!/id503519713?mt=8

I purchased the ZOMBIES, RUN! app a while ago, but a bad cold stopped me from trying it until recently. I have to say, it was $8 well spent. Yesterday I took the app for a spin on my first run in ages and it was a perfect way to get into running again.

The app isn't just a scare app with zombie noises. It's a complex game system with a fun storyline. The basic idea is simple. There is a story that plays through your headphones as you run. It's not 100% interactive - it just plays through. However, it's a blast if you are able to "play along" in your head. You are Runner 5 - a person of action in the zombie apocalypse being talked to through your headset by people at a base close by.  The first MISSION sets the scene. You crash and are guided through the landscape - set off on a mission to stay safe, gather supplies and get to the base in one piece.

The production values are very good. Fans of radio dramas or audio books will be very familiar with the audio storyline format. As you run, bits of the story come to you as actors talk to you through your headphones. The story sets a fantastic zombie tone - creepy and urgent. There are times where the scene becomes very urgent. "They are right behind you! Run, Runner 5! RUN!" I wanted to stop for a breather, but the game really did make me keep going. I gave into the fun of it and went right into the story. The nature of the audio made it easy to do.

You pick up items along your run and they are called out with an electronic voice. "You've collected antibiotics"   I wasn't sure what the point of all this collecting was until I got home and played around with the app a bit. It all became clear and I was happy with what I found. The app has a SUPPLIES tab with icons of various supplies. When collected, a number shows up over the icon. You drag that icon to an area of your Base Map (antibiotics to the HOSPITAL on the map, for instance) and the level bar over that area of the map grows. When full, the level changes and the image of the item grows a la SIM CITY. (A small hospital tent grows to a larger, more robust hospital tent)  This added another level to the game play that I really enjoyed.

You're also able to play your iTunes playlists through the app if you want music as well as the story. The story comes up between tracks and the collection notes chime in over the tracks. I'm currently working on my ZOMBIES, RUN! playlist with a zombie horror movie soundtrack in mind!  :)

THE NOT SO GOOD, but forgivable.
Now, you can tell that this is the first rev of the app. Not by the game play itself - that worked really well. It was more along the back-end side of things. More nit picks than anything.

• I couldn't figure out a way to change from kilometers to miles.
FIXED IN v 1.1!

• I don't see a list of runs like RunKeeper where I can chart distances I've run. RunKeeper was a great way to mark running progress. This is more game than run program.
FIXED IN v 1.1!

• While there is a tweet function that tweets out your use of the game, there doesn't seem to be a function where you can connect and post to Facebook. Again, I used this feature in RunKeeper to keep myself motivated. If people know I'm running, they know when I'm NOT running and that kept me honest. Plus, why WOULDN'T you want a person tossing Facebook posts up about your product? I can only imagine that this feature is coming in Rev 2.0.

• And lastly, in a perfect world, the GPS would be weaved into the game so that little nuggets could be woven into the game play a bit more. "Pace yourself on this hill" or something to that effect. A programming nightmare, but it would add to the immersion for sure.

All in all, ZOMBIES, RUN! is a lot of fun so far and worth the small investment of cash. It's highly entertaining and adds another level to a run.

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