The games industry has typically, over the last few years especially, been somewhat hit-or-miss, when it comes to getting your money’s worth out of games. Sure, you have games that are absolutely brimming with immersive gameplay and engrossing storylines, ranging from the blockbuster titles like Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End to the more quaint, yet equally enthralling indie releases like Stardew Valley or Firewatch. But, on the other hand, you also have games that offer very little content for their selling price, with The Order: 1886 springing to mind as of late. However, Dead Effect 2 isn’t one of these games.
The story is, well, what you’d expect from a mobile shooter; basic. While there is some variation between story missions, it’s certainly not Badfly Interactive’s magnum opus. At the beginning of the game, you are tasked with choosing your character from a selection of three; the heavy weapons specialist Gunnar Davis, the assault expert Jane Frey, and the close-combat aficionado Kay Rayner. When selecting your character, each will announce a catchphrase of theirs, just so you know what you’re getting yourself into.
The entirety of the game takes place on the E.S.S. Meridian, the setting of the first game, and upon starting up, you are greeted by Danette, a female prisoner who’ll provide you your missions for the rest of the game. The premise is simple; everything on the ship wants to kill you, better make sure you get there first. The plot isn’t mind-boggling, and at times, barely there at all.
For a game that was originally developed for mobile devices, it holds a surprising amount of depth, be it through the choice and customisation offered for both weapons and armour, or the various types of missions you can take part in. Aside from the story mode, Dead Effect 2 offers the player five other types of mode; generic missions, biohazard mode, survival mode, lone wolf missions and ‘Infestation’ mode. Generic mode does exactly what it says on the tin; they hold no value towards the story whatsoever, instead focusing on different tasks. Biohazard mode are akin to the ‘Zombies’ minigame in the Call of Duty franchise, in that the player faces several waves of oncoming enemies, each more difficult than the previous. Survival mode is similar, but instead of defeating all the enemies, the player must remain alive for a specified time to succeed. ‘Lone Wolf’ missions turn the tables from the main campaign, and have you hunt down soldiers on the ship, while ‘Infestation’ is much the same, except instead of humans, you’re slaughtering zombies, and cannibals. These missions are fun, accessible, and perfect if you want to switch off from everything else for a couple of minutes.
Surprisingly, I found the gameplay to be mostly smooth, with a few kinks and quirks here and there. The PS4 version abandons the ‘automatic shooting’ its original mobile edition held. The diverse selection of weapons, cybernetic and psychic enhancements, and armour upgrades were a welcome sight, as for the first hour or two of this game, I feared that I’d be laden with my increasingly ineffective shotgun and pistol for the remainder of the game. The countless hours of mindless shooting and bloodshed that awaits you is permeated every once in a while by a hacking mini game, ranging from matching two frequencies, to a game of simple addition. While these sound offensively banal, they are in fact a welcome change, and they feel refreshing.
However, I did find issue with some of the gun gameplay the game offered. For one, I found the aiming of different weapons to be painfully slow, even with that particular skill upgraded. The same goes for reloading, which, even when fully upgraded, was mind-numbingly slow, jarring even. This is incredibly evident when facing one type of enemy, cannibals. As you can imagine, cannibals have no respect for common human courtesy, and therefore will not wait for you while you slowly reload your weapon. They are, in my opinion, too fast an adversary with relation to the reload speed. Another gripe I have with the gameplay, is the omission of a melee slot. Should you want to slice and dice your way through the countless enemies you’ll encounter, you must forego a secondary weapon to do so. (In saying that, the chainsaw is OP as sin. Get on it.) While on the subject of omissions, a glaringly obvious one is a jump button, something that is a staple of modern games. Now it’s understandable that one wouldn’t need a jump action in a mobile game, it is sorely missed in a modern FPS title.
The voice acting in this game is… questionable. Not even questionable in fact, but laughable. For all the good in this game, the VA performances drag it down. The actors sound disinterested, bored even, and when surprise is called for, it is feigned poorly. It’s not just the actors fault though, as the script they were given is awful. The dialogue is horrid, emotionless and worst of all; not very funny, when it tries so hard. Jane’s supposedly ‘badass’ dialogue comes across as shoddily written, and at times, very stereotypical, all delivered in a monotonous and sleep-inducing tone. And to add, a character called Bielik has the worst accent I’ve ever head in a game, ever. (Who knew Russian was so hard to imitate? Obviously not this VA!)
The visuals of this game are nothing extraordinary. It’s very reminiscent of the Borderlands series, in that I wasn’t entirely able to discern whether the game’s surroundings had an aura of pseudo-cel shading. The character models, Danette in particular, come across somewhat lifeless, again, not helped by the quality of script and voice acting. Also, there were some questionable points that I wasn’t too sure about.
While the review dipped into the negatives there towards the end, I actually enjoyed Dead Effect 2. Honestly, I went in with rather low expectations, expecting myself to have come out the other end of the game in five or six hours. The gameplay is fun, familiar, and at times, immersive. The quality of acting and dialogue was encumbering, but not to the extent where the game couldn’t continue on with them. This game is a grower, in that if you give it a shot, you’ll begin to enjoy it. Worth the £15, I think.
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