Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Need Running Motivation? Try the Zombies Run! App (Review)

Now I do love me my Nike +GPS, but when I saw an article detailing the new app Zombies, Run! I immediately wrote the developers and offered myself up as a reviewer (full disclosure, was provided the app freely for review), reason being, I'm a huge fan of the Walking Dead television series and running away from zombies while getting my sweat on sounded too good to be true.

Now the app's pretty steeply priced ringing in at $7.99 and I'll come back to whether or not I think it's worth it at the end, but first, the app itself.

Zombies, Run! is easy to set up - you select the music you want to run to, and whether or not you want zombies to chase you (of course you do!) - and then you slide to run.

Immediately you're immersed in the story line. You're "Runner 5" (why give names to folks who likely won't be around for long), and you've been dropped into the middle of the zombie hordes on your way to Abel Township, a small fortified enclave of living, breathing, non-zombie folk. You've got a radio ear piece, and the comm tower in Abel Township helps to guide you to pick up essential supplies....and of course warns you of upcoming zombie attacks.

There are 25 missions, with each mission lasting roughly 25 minutes of running, but if you're not up to 25 minutes yet, they're subdivided as well and you can pick up nearly where you left off the next time you strap on your shoes. The supplies you pick up during your mission both enrich the story line, and also help you to fortify Abel in the non-running aspect of the app, which allows more survivors to live there.

During each mission it would seem that you have to evade 2-3 different zombie hordes (though perhaps there'll be more in specific missions), which if you're playing the game seriously means forced interval training of roughly minute long zombie-evading sprints. The zombies definitely can get you, though that doesn't seem to end the game, but I think it causes you to drop some of your supplies. The zombie chases work by means of the GPS in the iPhone I suspect by requiring you to sustain a specific percentile increase in speed until you're radio'ed that you've evaded the undead. My last run the zombies came after me just as I was about to start a hill climb and....

The story line's well done and actually quite amusing. If you finish a mission and keep on running the app switches into "radio mode" which will continue to play the music of your choice but will also have cut-ins of equally amusing chatter from the local pirate radio station.

I have a few small quibbles with the app. The volume's a bit wonky in that my music isn't particularly loud compared with the narration so sometimes when the story cuts back in, I have to quickly adjust the volume because it's so damn loud [UPDATE: Realized you can control this setting via the game's setting. Readjusted and it works great!]. It also doesn't seem to remember where I was in my playlist, so going out for my second mission, my playlist began at the beginning again [UPDATE: While it doesn't remember, you can set your playlist to shuffle via the in game settings]. Lastly, if you're accustomed to pacing yourself with music, sometimes the narrations are rather lengthy and may affect your time. But you know what, it's not so difficult to adjust volume, and music wise, I'll just have to remember to run to different albums each time I head out.

So is it worth the comparatively steep $7.99 iTune's cost?

Well what else costs $7.99? A couple of lattes, a fast-food combo, popcorn at the movies, a glossy magazine. I'll often talk about how one of the best ways to help motivate yourself to exercise is to increase exercise's value by tying something enjoyable to it. Given the only way to enjoy the storyline is to run, this fits that bill perfectly and is exactly the sort of app I'd love to see more of.  There's no doubt, it's increased my desire to run.

25 missions, that's over 10 hours of storyline even if I stop before radio mode (which is enjoyable itself). In dollars and cents...or actually cents, that's $0.79 per hour of more enjoyable exercise. [UPDATE: The developers just added 7 additional "supply" missions and a "long run" mode that stretches each mission out to an hour (though then you'd miss the entertaining radio mode banter)]

Seems a downright bargain.