For all our fear and dread of the undead, we really seem to have taken to zombies in horror entertainment — in just the past couple of months, I’ve worked my way through three seasons of The Walking Dead, read the original graphic novel and bought Telltale Games’ adaptation of the franchise for PC, watched Brad Pitt save the planet in World War Z, and reviewed Dead Effect here on Androidshock only last week. I thought I was done with these pesky walkers for 2013, but then Madfinger Games just had to go and release the sequel to their zombie blockbuster just in time for Halloween.
Obviously, a zombie game would have to be really special for me to have anything complimentary to say about it after this media overload — but thankfully, Dead Trigger 2 delivers, and does so in spades. The Czech studio really knows their way around shooters and the Unity game engine, and once again graces the Play Store with a smashing title that boasts incredibly satisfying gameplay and top-notch production. That’s right — even though it’s zombies for the 1,000th time, I was happy to lose a few afternoons to DT2, and I think you will too.
There isn’t much of a story to unravel in DT2: you’re part of a resistance team of survivors that you rescue in the first few missions, and together, you take on zombies in a race to reclaim the earth with the help of other survivors and what remains of military forces around the world. Your team hangs at the Hideout, which is where you can catch your breath between outings and have each of your crew craft and upgrade items and weapons for you.
DT2 starts in the US, and sees you taking out walkers to live another day — it’s all typical zombie FPS fare, but it looks a lot prettier than you’d expect. The graphics in this game are vibrant and detailed, with an energetic palette aided by superb animations, lighting and visual effects (particularly if you have the pleasure of rocking a TEGRA 3/TEGRA 4 device). You’ll encounter a variety of environments, including a library, a satellite communication center, city streets, rooftops and even settlements in Africa — all beautifully rendered and laid out for maximum bloodshed.
Before you dig your heels in and start wreaking havoc, you’ll need to check in at the Hideout and equip yourself with items and weapons that your ‘teammates’ can offer you: besides a wrench, handgun and painkillers to start with, you can unlock more melee weapons, SMGs, shotguns, assault rifles, heavy artillery such as grenade launchers and miniguns, crossbows, armed chickens(!), mines, sentry guns, second lives and even boosters for health, damage and money.
It’s wise to keep an eye on zombies — they’re not all slow, and can be a real pain when they clump together. There are also special zombie types who can take and dish out more damage than usual, including the rams-on-sight Rager, the projectile specialist Vomitron, and the mysterious Scienfist. And as with all Madfinger products, the UI is very well designed, and integrates deeply with the game’s aesthetic. There’s a lot of stuff to buy with in-game currency in DT2, but the IAP system is thoughtfully set up so you don’t ever run into any surprise spends.
Gameplay and controls
Besides double tapping zombies and carpet-bombing the larger ones, you’ll also have to flick switches, collect and drop supplies and operate equipment, all with a very simple control scheme. By default, you only need to use your thumbs to move and look, with autofire taking care of trigger and melee action when your aim is on target. Hardcore gamers might scoff, but you really need to try it for yourself to understand it: DT2’s autofire is easy to get used to, but the game’s difficulty ramps up steadily , to the point that you might find yourself opting for Easy mode sooner than you expected.
The levels on the second continent have you in tight spots often, forcing you to think on your feet and closely watching your surroundings at all times. Narrow mineshafts and dimly lit corridors make zombie encounters a task, especially when you have a special zombie in the mix knocking off your health points from afar. You’ll be forced to learn tactics, and be compelled to earn and spend money on upgrades (I’m mostly concerned with weapon range), and have to come to terms with the truth – – sometimes it’s best to just stop shooting and run!
After getting used to the controls, HUD, Hideout and compass over the first few missions, you’ll quickly find yourself in all kinds of trouble. All your missions are towards securing areas and clearing them of zombies: you’ll handle zombies hand-to-hand, with turret guns, sniper rifles and helicopters, rescue people, repair essential facilities, and even bomb a mine. The missions begin in the US, after which you’ll be shipped off to Africa to lend a hand. If you finish the story missions, you’ll have to wait for an update from Madfinger before you see further content. You can, however, make use of the downtime to play various types of side missions to earn cash and XP, and gear up for the next continent.
DT2 features an elaborate system for purchasing items and upgrades, including dual currencies, wait times and grossly overpriced weapons. However, I found it possible to get through the first couple of continents without having to spend much at all — I guess I only really missed out on some of the more expensive weapons. I was just fine with the handgun and SMG for a long while indeed.
With the missions already being varied enough to keep things interesting for a few hours, DT2 could very easily have done with a more substantial storyline, along with deep characters. A little more attention to the writing would have made this a highly playable game a classic to remember. Adding an MMO component into the mix would take it to the next level.
Get this game now!
Seriously, what are you still doing here? Go forth and unleash hell on the hordes of biters who are eagerly awaiting your arrival. DT2 is such fun to play because of Madfinger’s expert execution of its signature brand of fast-paced gunplay. My only issue with this game is that it requires you to be online to play (and it’s a single-player campaign). I do wish the developers would also explore the possibilities of introducing more complex game mechanics like in survival titles, especially since weapon handling has been simplified. Still, DT2 is super fun in its simplicity. Oh, and it’s free. Are you really still here?