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Wot I Think: Dead Effect

Braindead

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Imagine if you could take all the ideas other people have had, and then not do anything interesting with them. That’s the dream, the dream that gives us Dead Effect. A first-person shooter that has less ambition than this simile. Here’s wot I think.

Set aboard some space station or ship or something, you awake to find yourself surrounded by zombies, armed only with a massive arsenal of weapons and explosives, desperately struggling to move from one end to the other of a level. Your guide on this journey is a German voice in your ear, whose moustache-twirling intonations couldn’t possibly belie his apparent benevolence – heaven forefend.

But you’re infected too! A bit. And you’re wearing a magic space suit because those are in other games. It can, far too late on, be upgraded a tiny bit. And then you get treated for the infection, and, well, “Warning, one of the side-effects of the treatment is the ability to slow down time.” Of course!

So we’ve dank, repetitive near-black spaceship corridors, thousands of zombies, a special suit, bullet time, diary entries lying around to pick up, detached unreliable guiding voices… It is a small miracle that there are no “tower defence elements” thrown in. However, that would at least represent a small deviation from the monotony.

This is agonisingly repetitive. The corridors you must stagger down at a glacial pace (excepting one of the most laughably brief “sprints” I’ve ever seen) are literally identical in many sections. Level after level is indistinguishable from the last, the mix of zombie types barely ever changing, and predictable in their arrival. Find a computer, open a door, go down a lift, retrace your steps and go down that shut door, kill seventeen zombies in each room.

The last part there offers no real challenge, since you’re so overwhelmed with ammunition and upgradeable weapons (upgraded in some mysterious shop that somehow exists and accepts the money you’ve collected despite your being in a lift, or even imprisoned in a tiny room), and a shot to the head takes out almost everything. Almost. Because of course there’s also one non-boss zombie type that takes a bunch of shots to kill AND throws bombs at you that instantly kill you. In a game set in corridors.

And you can’t jump. Maybe the suit’s really heavy? Oh, and play as lady Jane Grey (such originality!) rather than gentleman Gunnar Davis (what a name!), as despite having a different voice actor you’ll still hear gruff manly panting whenever you “sprint”. That’s always a mark of quality.

This was formerly a free-to-play mobile game, and I’ll give it credit – I’d never have guessed that from the look and speed of it. Unity scales well, and the creature design looks top-end. The special effects give it away, however, with appalling blood splatters, and genuinely laugh-out-loud awful effects on things like the machine gun turrets. But in terms of what you actually get to do here – yes, it makes perfect sense that it was once about tapping a finger on a glass panel. There’s no nuance, no subtlety, no sense of requiring improving skill as you progress.

It sure is cheap, though. Perhaps it was more appropriately priced at nothing at all, but £5.59 is still coming in low for a full-length FPS. But even still, I really wouldn’t bother.

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John Walker

Senior Editor

One of the original co-founders of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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