Dead Effect 2, a sequel to the 2013 shooter released for iOS and Android is now available on Steam. Boasting new (rather impressive) graphics as well as a 20+ hour co-op campaign featuring RPG elements.
First off let’s just begin my saying how commendable it is for an FPS to focus so intently on a co-op campaign, it’s a feature that is definitely waning and I was excited to play through a rich zombie filled campaign, upgrading my weapons and smashing undead skulls with a friend. Unfortunately this experience was marred by so many issues that zombie killing was the last thing on my mind.
Initially the game looked promising, graphically I expected something closer to a port from a mobile game, yet the textures were detailed and the lighting and fog effects were atmospheric. The zombie infested spaceship setting felt fresh enough although it has most definitely been done before with the likes of Dead Space. The problem though, was that although I awoke in this atmospheric setting, all my character kept doing was looking around in circles. In fact, whenever I went into any option screen to try and address this issue, any slider bars would slide all the way to the left when highlighted. I unplugged my Xbox One controller to no avail, then tried a different controller, still nothing. I eventually reverted to keyboard and mouse setup and the problem died once I turned off controller support in settings. This first glitchy experience was not to be my last as I found my GTX 960 build struggling to hit the 60 fps mark (I have no problem hitting constant 60 on the likes of Wolfenstien, or Black Ops 3, both much more graphically intensive games) and whenever I tried to adjust the graphical settings in-game the lighting effects would go berserk. After toning down the graphical settings, re-starting the game and then using the keyboard and mouse setup I proceeded to play through the tutorial and the first couple levels alone as co-op is unlocked after you reach a certain early game point.
Initially before jumping into the game you are given a choice of three characters, Gunnar, Jane, and Kay. Each character had their own starter weapons and abilities, though after the first couple missions you can use in game currency to purchase new weapons. Gunnar, is as the name depicts, a heavy weapons focused build, Jane has a shotgun and pistol combo, and Kay has a Katana to slice and dice the undead. After choosing your character you can then choose out of one of four different abilities all focusing on different areas of team work, some focused on defence and healing and others on all out offence. This makes for a good setup for co-op play as tactical decisions on character builds play an important role.
Although the initial glitches left a sour taste in my mouth I persisted hoping that blood and zombie brains would wash it away. Unfortunately my decision of choosing Kay and his Katana meant I slowly and ineffectively sliced at zombies until they collapsed. The collision felt soft and unrealistic, and I promptly purchased an assault rifle as soon as the option became available. These purchases are all done with in game currency, at this point there are no in game purchases that require real money which for a game series that began as a mobile game with in app purchases is another commendable move. Armed with an assault rifle, zombie killing became much more fun although remained just as ineffective due to the radically inaccurate and low powered weapons; I would often unload full clips into an enemy only to find I’d hit it twice To rectify this I promptly upgraded my accuracy, in fact I improved every aspect of my weapon to its max stats and noticed no difference at all. It’s a nice idea to include RPG aspects into a co-op shooter but if the changes are ineffective it makes you question the reason they’re in there in the first place. I would have preferred a single effective weapon from the get go rather than playing with different weapons only to find that maxed out they were godawful.
The co-op aspect, when unlocked, works well. After a couple levels you unlock a map of the ship where levels appear in a destiny like fashion and you can highlight them to play with a friend or join a matchmaking session. I joined my brother online who confirmed that he experienced the exact same controller issues I had, and had also chosen Katana Kay and immediately regretted his choice.
The co-op gameplay was good, with levels featuring mounted turrets for players to use to their advantage as well as various cover options. However, whenever we really got into the action something would happen to deter from the excitement, whether it be the truly laughable writing or the zombie dogs that unintentionally run in slow motion, this meant we laughed throughout playing the game although we were laughing at the game rather than with it.
Dead Effect 2 could be a great game, it doesn’t take much for a co-op zombie game to be fun, and the RPG elements give a unique spin on the genre, unfortunately the myriad of technical issues deter from any real enjoyment and the sticky collision makes the game often feel like a full screen mobile game, which developer BadFly Interactive have clearly tried hard to avoid. With future patching this game could be a fun way to kill time with a friend, however right now it’s a mess.