Zombies in space. It’s not exactly an original idea when it comes to gaming is it? But with the success of Call of Duty’s zombie offering now venturing to outer space, and of course the entire Dead Space trilogy providing us with one of the greatest space chills ever, it makes sense that other developers would look to the rather helpless spot above the clouds to provide some extra chills and thrills to the gaming market.
Dead Effect 2 is the latest zombie infested title to take us on an interstellar trip to the far reaches of the galaxy, but with so many zombie titles out there, is Dead Effect 2 another title in a crowded genre, or is it a worthy entry to the first-person shooter scene?
In Dead Effect 2, you play the role of either, Gunnar Davis – the heavy weapon specialist, Jane Frey – the shotgun enthusiast, or Kay Reyner – the fan of all things melee. For my initial playthrough, I chose Gunnar, the clone of a once great soldier that has been enhanced with robotics to try and create something unstoppable. Gunnar is one of the many unlawful scientific creations on board the ESS Meridian spaceship.
Regardless of the character chosen, it is worth noting that weapons aren’t character specific and it seems that choosing one character over another won’t mean you’re unable to switch weapons at any time.
Joining the player is Danette, another clone born via lab experiments, and Minikin, possibly the greatest mechanic on the ship, who suffers from brain damage caused by the cryostasis he was kept in. For a short while after saving him, players are also given the helpful hand of Doctor Bielik, the scientist who created Gunnar. Each character has their own use within the game, with Danette handing out missions and upgrades to the players abilities, Minikin upgrading weapons and selling new ones collected throughout missions, and Doctor Bielik offering upgrades to the player’s armour as well as the implants installed inside Gunnar.
The story of Dead Effect 2 is a rather simple one to follow. After the death of Professor Wagner, the head of the experiments onboard the ship, soldiers are sent from Earth to approach the ship and purge all evidences of anything ever happening. This is due to the outbreak of the Dead Effect; a virus that was in an experimental stage to try and preserve life as we know it, allowing immortality to those affected. However, after a close encounter with one subject during a test, Professor Wagner was killed, and his failed creations (the zombies) were set loose on the vast ship in order to cause distraction and allow the conscious victims to escape. Throughout the rest of the story players embark on a mission to secure the evidence of what happened, all whilst avoiding the threat of the incoming soldiers.
Now, this may sound like the classic sci-fi adventure of old, but Dead Effect 2 isn’t without its plot twists, and whilst they aren’t entirely unexpected given the nature of the narrative on offer, they fit in well with the story on offer.
There is one problem however, and that is that the story is certainly nothing overly special; the way in which each mission plays out can quickly start to feel like more of a chore than anything else. After speaking to the specified mission giver, which is usually Danette, players are mostly sent on ‘fetch’ missions, in which they will be required to gather information from a terminal, gather something of need – be it another character or an item, or kill a certain creature. However, whilst these missions may sound rather different, the lack of change in the environment can make each one feel very alike. With more than twenty missions to complete it doesn’t take long for the interest to die down – even if each of the missions are only five to ten minutes long.
But whilst the story may suffer from repetitivity, the beauty on offer throughout will give you a renewed interest. Dead Effect 2 may not be a triple-A title or have a huge budget behind its production, but it doesn’t mean it can’t look great, and one thing that the guys over at BadFly Interactive deserve praise for are the fantastic visuals on show. From the opening cinematic, to the weapons, to the environment and everything in between, Dead Effect 2 is a perfect showing of how visuals can make for an attractive game. But despite the positive look, poor gameplay can really hold a game back and unfortunately the issues aren’t tied down to repetitive gameplay.
Throughout my playthrough, one thing that became quickly apparent was the surprisingly poor weapon accuracy. Of course, weapon upgrades are available in the game and utilising them can indeed be something that improve it slightly, but even with fully upgraded weapons the aiming is surprisingly poor for a first-person shooter.
Weapons can be fired both from the hip or by aiming down the sight, but regardless of how you choose to shoot, firing on any particular part of the body can often see bullets fire well wide of the intended target. You will often need to fire excess bullets just to ensure the target is hit. With most firearms providing rapid fire capabilities this is no problem in the long run, but those looking to embark on the harder difficulty settings, much like myself, will certainly find things a tad challenging later on in the game.
Another issue with Dead Effect 2, and quite possibly the biggest irritation for me, were in the poor accents given to some of the game’s characters, particularly Doctor Bielik. Whilst I’m not usually one to complain about how someone talks, this often saw me avoiding upgrades to my armour and implants – therefore making gameplay more challenging, simply to ensure I wasn’t forced to listen to another one of the worst takes on a Russian accent to date. The accent given to Doctor Bielik was certainly the standout fail, but the other characters failed to show any flow in conversations, taking away the engagement that could have been offered in the story.
Despite the negatives, one thing Dead Effect 2 cannot be faulted for is a lack of content. Each of the story missions may only take five to ten minutes to beat, dependant on skill level, but there are several game modes available for players to sink their teeth into. And that’s a good thing.
As well as the story mode, others included are Generic Missions, Biohazard Mode, Survival Mode, Lone Wolf Missions, and Infestation. However, not all modes offer content that is much different to the main story. For example, both Generic Missions and Lone Wolf Missions provide players with a variation of the same missions that were already available throughout the story, which brings the question as to why they were included at all, other than to earn extra collectible credits to buy upgrades with.
Whilst still offering similar content, the other modes do indeed have their own separate goals. Biohazard Mode for example brings players back to specific areas within the story, but with the new goal of clearing the area, whilst Survival Mode sets players in an area with swarms of enemies and requires players to simply survive. Infestation on the other hand, much like Survival, pits players against hordes of the undead with the goal of defeating them all before taking on a huge monster to end the battle. In the end though, whilst the extra inclusions are certainly enough to ensure players are tied down for a few extra hours, it’s not hard to see that they are more of a tacked on addition rather than an early development plan; other than a few small differences they fail to bring any real change to an already repetitive game.
Overall and Dead Effect 2 is a game that offers a fantastic visual experience, but lets itself down with very basic issues. That said it is in no way a terrible game, and those looking for a viable first-person shooter should certainly give it a bash if you’re fed up with the usual titles on the market. If precision and polish is something you can’t look past though, then you may feel slightly disappointed.