Gamers have had lots of time to study and identify their own preferences in the sport of zombie killing. Some revel in mowing down hordes, while others take their time studying and picking off one groaner at a time.
Since zombie slashing games have been worked into something akin to art, Dead Strike for the iPhone and iPod Touch has no place among the most celebrated (or even moderately appreciated) titles in the survival horror genre. This zombie game is a slum-dweller: its poor controls, frequent crashes, and awful hit detection are only of interest to super-hardcore zombie fans who simply must shoot ‘em all.
Prepare to be punished.
Dead Strike’s zombie attack is not of particularly interesting origin: a virus sweeps the world, gives people a thirst for brains, etc. Four survivors are called on to deliver a possible vaccine sample to a hospital across town. Of course, there are about twenty billion zombies blocking the way, to say nothing of wrecked cars and an inexplicably thick mist.
The game’s four heroes are packing heat and brimming with chutzpah. Each character has a strength that will see them through Armageddon, and strangely enough, the chosen character determines the game’s difficulty. Bob, a journalist, is stealthy and can move around before the zombies get a whiff of him. Bob, a bodyguard, can take extra punishment. Sam, a policeman, is competent with a gun. Eva, a nurse, has a better recovery rate than her male comrades.
Logically, a player who doesn’t know what they’re getting into might want to try to play as Eva. But selecting her automatically switches on Dead Strike’s hard mode. Ditto when Bob is selected. Why not let beginners select the quick-healing character without penalty?
And healing is absolutely essential for anyone who plans to take more than five steps in the zombie-infested city. The ghouls hunt in packs and move fast; a lonely cityscape can fill up in a few seconds.
How would you like that cooked?
Thinning the undead herd is ridiculously difficult. Dead Strike’s virtual analogue stick is difficult to handle, and one small slip of the thumb will send a character spinning madly at a crucial time. Weapons only fire after thinking about it for a second, and the frequent stops needed to perform slow reloads give the zombies that much more time to chase down their meal. Players can’t walk or run while shooting, and weapons can’t be aimed up or down.
Dead Strike’s graphics are appropriately creepy, with zombies jumping through windows to chase their chow. The surprise attacks also mean zombie models occasionally end up stranded on top of street lights, or they’re marooned on the side of a bus. Unsettling, but obviously not intentional.
Dead Strike shows nothing but contempt for the player, who is discouraged from making any kind of progress at all. Suffering a death means starting at the beginning of the level, which includes shuffling through the game’s five-page story again and again. The controls are a zombie’s breakfast, the graphics are glitchy, and the whole mess crashes at random intervals. Also, does the gaming world really need another stable of grim-faced zombie chasers with histories as cops and bodyguards? Can’t one of the crew have a dodgy past as an ex-clown? They’re supposed to be pretty competent with firearms.
Dead Strike has a ‘Cheats’ option on its main menu and some well-publicized codes, which is telling. Only infinite life and ammo can offer a vague chance at progression. And even then, best of luck to you.