At the outset, you'd think Dead Trigger could be the game to sound the death knell of PCs and consoles. It looks brutally cutting edge with its gorgeous gun models and slick animations, all powered by the mere guts that make up your smartphone. You'd think the end is probably nigh.
Delve beyond the uber-realistic flames and sweet water effects, however, and you’ll realise that the end is nowhere close. Besides looking extremely similar to your computer or Xbox 360 games, there’s nothing else to keep it going. The controls are unresponsive and you’ll often find yourself spending more time fiddling with the sensitivity slider than playing the game. It handles just a smidgen better on tablets due to the added screen space, but that’s about it.
Speaking of tablets, it performed admirably on Tegra devices. Notably the Samsung Tab 2, which is no surprise given that it has been tweaked to run better on Nvidia’s mobile chips. However, the non-Tegra gadgets fared equally well, with the iPhone 4S and Galaxy Nexus versions running it almost as smoothly. Almost no differences were noticed, making us wonder why it boasts of optimisations for Nvidia’s latest and greatest in the first place.
It is important to note that the game gives you graphics options. Borrowing more than few pages out of PC gaming, it lets you select whether you want Dead Trigger to run at high, medium or low settings. No, there is no ultra option or further ways to improve graphical fidelity. However, regardless of the device you’re playing it on, the game starts with the lowest possible setting by default. This is great if you have a mid-range or low-end phone or tablet, but anything with a dual core processor or above can run it at the highest settings without a hitch.
Technical finesse aside, the story here is non-existent. The events of Dead Trigger have you killing zombies. Beyond the opening text that reads like an anti-capitalist spiel, there's really nothing special. There are a few pokes at contemporary folk such as Julian Assange, but it’s as threadbare as it can possibly be.
Five men's a juicy opportunity, one man's a waste of ammo
In due course, it reaches a point where zombies are the new Nazis, enemies so prevalent that almost every video game has them. Considering that smartphones are thought of as the next frontier of digital innovation, we were expecting a little more creativity. What's more, these are the guys behind the superb Shadowgun. Instead, we’re given hordes of undead to kill, and they aren’t particularly clever either; constantly running into your line of fire without you having to do much. It never feels like it throws up much of a challenge at all.
Much like Shadowgun, this game is in the form of a staggered download. After downloading the game’s initial files off the App Store (or Play Store), you’ll be prompted to download additional bits and bytes. All in all, it clocks in at around 120MB, including updates. Not bad for a game that looks this good.
Most of the game takes place in confined environments that have you shooting zombies and acquiring money to improve your weaponry. Missions revolve around killing a set number of zombies in a stipulated amount of time, collecting specific items, or defending an area from a horde of undead. As mentioned earlier, there’s very little in the way of story to keep you going, devolving this into a simple exercise of killing a lot of zombies, which isn’t as entertaining as it should be.
It's a pity that all the cool weapons cost real money
There’s an arcade-based mechanic where you get rewarded with more cash for killing with skill. Cash can be used for getting more weapons. For example, a headshot nets you more money than a regular shots to the chest. However, the controls work against this and no matter how much you try, you’ll find most of your attempted headshots going way off the mark.
One could argue that all of the issues mentioned above are okay since the game is available for free on both iOS and Android. But when there’s better content for just Rs. 50 or even at the same fantastic price of zero, why should Dead Trigger be given a free pass? And did we mention that it sports one of the sneakier ways of grabbing your money via in-app purchases? All you need to do is access the game’s armoury to realise that you have the option to buy new weapons in a free game with real money.
All in all, Dead Trigger feels more like a tech demo than an actual game. It's the proof of what is possible on mobile rather than what can be achieved at the moment. It’s admirable what Mad Finger has managed to do with the Unity engine, but beyond that, it doesn’t do justice to its previous works and you’ll end up bored long before you’ve finished it. Worth a download if and only if you would like to show off your shiny new phone’s capabilities. If you don't have such motivations, however, please avoid it.