When I first wrote about Dead Effect 2 coming to the PlayStation 4, my interest was piqued. I mean, you have a space vessel currently traveling the cosmos to reach a new planet for humanity and rogue scientists, zombies, and soldiers within said spacecraft. Sure it’s not the most original idea in the world, but as a sci-fi fan I was interested nonetheless. The title is also a mobile port and I went into the experience with my expectations in check. After all I wasn’t expecting Dead Space 4 with more shooting. To my surprise Dead Effect 2 attained B-movie levels of fun and offered an enjoyable yet flawed romp.
Dead Effect 2 takes place after the first one where the main character took out a dangerous and psychotic leader. Turns out his faction was experimenting with people, artificial beings, and more or less created the zombies on the ESS Meridian. Needless to say humanity wasn’t in the best shape to reach their new home. You can choose one of three characters to start the game who all have different abilities, tactics, and personalities. The two class-based mechanics boil down to shooter or melee however, but if you wanted to be a cyborg ninja (like Raiden) then your interest is covered. You wake up from an induced coma to a woman’s voice as she explains what’s happening on the ship. After you tear your way through some zombies, she informs you that remnants of the first game’s villain are still bustling about and want the two of you dead. From here you find a base of operations, perform a series of tasks to stay alive, and continue through the story as conflicts arise.
The narrative and mission designs are fairly simple. Go to this part of the ship, kill something, return to base, go to another part of the ship, retrieve something, and return to base again. There won’t be any award for seamless plot transitions but the game never tries to be more than anything it is, a simplistic shooter with fun gameplay. Badfly Interactive tried to throw a monkey wrench and plot twists in the mix but they never had any major effect on your enjoyment level. As I said if you like self-aware, B-movie levels of cheese, then Dead Effect 2 won’t bother you in the least. Except for the ending. The story clearly sequel baits and it didn’t even have enough content to do that properly. Major players still aren’t taken care of and the pacing never indicated you were almost done. Besides the campaign there are a lot of, albeit repetitive, side and objective missions that are there to help you level up. There are generic missions that act the same no matter how many times you play them, horde modes, target elimination goals, and a few other endeavors that have their own rewards. You don’t need to worry about a lack of structured content here.
The gameplay is by far the title’s strongest feature. Each level has you traversing a maze of hallways or tiered parts of the ship. Naturally each area will have their share of enemies you must cut a path through. The zombies are easily the best foes to vanquish due to their sounds, numbers, movements, and gore factor. I’d be lying if I said I was calm when a zombie howled and just unloading into a swarm was utterly satisfying whether done with bullets or swords. I’ll get to that in a minute. There are about ten different variations to the zombie design but they were diversified nicely between encounters. The most important factor though was imploding their head and sending blood flying into the screen. Then you have weird dog hybrids, weird wendigo inspired creatures, and generic soldiers who fire bullets back. Dead Effect 2 might have a decent amount of different enemies but they can all be defeated the same way with the same tactics. It’s up to the player if that’s a pro or con and found I didn’t mind it myself.
Overall, the weapon and armor system is similar to Borderlands. You’ll be able to loot, buy, or earn better gear with a level number tagged to it. The higher the number, the stronger impact. The amount of options to choose from are staggering as well. I was honestly impressed that what started as a mobile game had this amount of weapons. Of course there were possibilities with small differences but in the end there were: assault rifles, shotguns, bow and arrows, pistols, magnums, energy guns, electricity guns, katanas, knives, steel knuckles, and sniper rifles. It’s honestly a shame that you can only equip two at a time. At least you don’t have to worry about finding ammo for them. The title will offer plenty of ammunition to buy and find in the world depending on what you have equipped. Armor and “implants” too but I found myself drooling over the weapon selection alone.
Straight off the bat you need to understand this isn’t really a horror game. At no time will you feel terrified and the environments reflect that. Imagine a futuristic, colonization spaceship in your head and that will probably be an accurate depiction of the ESS Merdian. The surroundings don’t really pop but they don’t really have to. The backdrop servers its purpose as the slaughtering grounds for your enjoyment. Likewise with the voice acting. It isn’t world class but it’s far from terrible. Except for the Russian scientist you come across. I cringed a few times as it sounded like a comedian doing his best Russian accent with a mouthful of water. Again, B-movie levels at play here and it’s just something I noticed. I will say that the many references and easter eggs that the voice actors delivered through their lines were appreciated.
From a technical standpoint, there are things to love and hate here. Dead Effect 2’s graphics were rather impressive considering the mobile port and all. Plus, the frame rate was pretty acceptable too. However, the user interface with some menus can be unresponsive or laggy. Never knowing whether to use the directional buttons or the analog stick was also weirdly a problem. Another odd issue dealt with dead bodies flying around when you pause and unpause the game. The game mechanics are hands down ported well while the non-gameplay aspects aren’t.
Dead Effect 2 PS4 Review
Without a doubt, Dead Effect 2 is the most enjoyable sci-fi, zombie shooter for twelve bucks. The story may be average at best but the gameplay and amount of options to utilize are awesome. I can’t deny that I enjoyed shooting whatever Badfly threw at me, and the surprising amount of replayability the destruction offered. Considering this was originally a mobile game, I can see many people developing a guilty pleasure over this space faring adventure.
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* Reviewed using a base PS4.