Braaains, the new Facebook game from Broken Bulb, gives gamers the chance to amass armies of zombies and wage war on Facebook friends and enemies. While the game is still in its infancy, Braaains' Mafia Wars style gameplay will surely grab zombie fans instantly.
Braaains' begins with a quick tutorial to get you started on your way to total zombie domination. You start by exhuming a bare bones zombie from the graveyard. Although the tutorial points out your first zombie to select, you can choose your zombie based off of personality (Depressed, Raging, Schizo, etc), date of death and title (which is more like an army Rank). Each zombie also has a phonetic name based off of typical zombie ramblings like Raaagh Aagraaggh and Mraaagh Raaagh. None of these names or personality traits seem to affect actual gameplay. There 21 zombies to choose from all with the same vitals and cost. The only real change happens with subsequent zombie additions to your army in which case the price tag goes up substantially. Hopefully, Broken Bulb will add more diversity to this process in future updates.
After you've selected your zombie, you can go back to the world map. Here you will find eight other locations: the Stolen Sheriff Van, Warehouse, Hospital, Clothing Shop, Enhancers, Weapon Shop, Science Shop and the Mad Scientist. The Warehouse is used to upgrade various stats: Strength, Health, Agility and Defense. The Stolen Sheriff Van takes you to street fights with AI and other Facebook gamers. Most of the other locations are used to buy offensive and defensive enhancements.
The fight sequences are auto-simulated events animations based on your stats and the stats of your opponent. Gamers can skip these animations. If you win, you can immediately post the win to your Facebook Wall. You will also see an ongoing rundown of your in-game activities in the news feed below the game screen. After battles, you gain experience and coins, which can both be shared with friends. If you share your spoils of war, your friends will receive an additional coin bonus. Unfortunately, sometimes the sharing doesn't actually work; a task as simple as adding a friend appears to be bugged. When you send a friend request, the person on the receiving side will probably not receive the invite. Adding friends or allies isn't a major deal right now. Unlike Mafia Wars, having several allies doesn't help you out in battle. Success in battle focuses primarily on your own zombie army.
As you go up levels, you will collect brain tokens. You also gain brains for unlocking achievements. These can be used to upgrade your zombie army and buy more items. In this game, upgrading your zombies is called training, which you do in the Warehouse. You can also equip your minions with weapons or clothing for defense. You should note that the weapons are obscure. Starter weapons range from household items to mechanics tools, like the garden rake or the tire iron. The meat log is more powerful than a dirt spade, while a cheese wheel is more powerful than both of them combined.
Right now, Braaains still has some significant updates to make before it will grab the attention of the broader social gaming fan base. For starters, frequent cartoony pop-up error messages will alienate more than a few gamers.
Also, Broken Blub needs to work on adding in the team atmosphere to this game. While I couldn't use my allies in a fight, I could always choose to fight my allies. Sending gifts is limited to one item per person per day. However, there's no real way of knowing if a friend sent you an item. One time I actually received the item that was supposed to be given, or at least I think I did, but there was no alert so I had no idea who it came from. Another time I sent a friend a cheese wheel, and they never received it. When I tried to send the item again, I was unable to because they had already received a gift from me. So, where did the cheese go?
Braaains could have a promising future if Broken Bulb is able to work through some of the quirky mechanics and really focus on adding in more social activities.