Dead Effect 2 is a sci-fi survival horror first-person shooter game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. The Dead Effect series was created by a group of experienced game developers that actually had development jobs within major development studios at the time; when a meeting in a pub set in motion their path towards founding an indie development team of their very own. The team was originally named inDev Brain before changing their name to BadFly Interactive; consisting of developers who had worked on such popular games as Mafia, Mad Max and The Witcher 3, but banded together to create games within their preferred sci-fi, action horror genres. Dead Effect 2 is the sequel to a game that released for iOS on September 12th 2013 that gradually grew in gameplay and size via free post-launch updates with Dead Effect rolling out to further platforms until December 16th 2014 including Android, PC and Mac. How does Dead Effect 2 fare in comparison to its prequel?
The story continues on from shortly after the end of the plot from the first game as scientific experimentation has went catastrophically wrong onboard the Interstellar spaceship ESS Meridian in 2083 which is now infested with all manner of hideous monsters with presumably only one man left awake to fight them with almost everybody else sleeping during hibernation. Digital messages and diaries found on the spaceship’s computers provide backstory to what happened in the build-up to what state the ship is in upon your character waking up and the fallout thereafter.
Mission variety is pretty good; ranging from finding your way to an elevator to reach another level of the ship to making your way to the hibernation chamber to wake up the chief engineer who is one of less than a handful of people onboard the ship that can realistically help your character avoid extermination from an incoming squad of soldiers; not to mention the zombies. Beyond story missions; there are also generic missions that are effectively side missions, while biohazard mode and survival mode involve surviving an onslaught of enemies.
There are three unique playable characters that each has their own set of skills and special abilities in their initial loadout, while there are over 300 collectible gear items that provide state of the art body implants. Gunnar Davis is a heavy weapons specialist with an assault rifle as a primary weapon and a pistol for a secondary weapon, while his special abilities include Shockwave which sends a powerful electrical impulse that knocks down enemies; Stasis projects a stasis field that stops time for enemies albeit while simultaneously protecting them from incoming fire, but could still be useful to strategically change position, finding cover or running past a large group of enemies; Barrier creates a protective energy bubble that prevents damage from being received by Gunnar; and Storm hits enemies with a lightning strike. Jane Frey is an assault ops specialist with her primary weapon of choice being a shotgun and a revolver as a secondary weapon, while her special abilities include Leash which holds enemies within a gravitational anomaly; Void knocks down enemies in the path of a powerful bolt of energy; Choose of Slain allows Jane to pull an enemy closer as other enemies are pushed away; and Equinox forms a kinetic shield around Jane that protects her from incoming damage by reflecting incoming projectiles. Kay Rayner is a close quarters combat specialist who carries a Epirus V-7 Bow as a primary weapon and an Eclypse Katana as a secondary weapon, while his special abilities include Pull Enemy that utilises a telekinetic ability to pull closely situated enemies toward him while inflicting damage and incapacitating enemies for a period of time; Throw Enemy is a powerful telekinetic attack that inflicts serious damage to enemies and flings them away; Devastation causes a massive amount of damage to all close by enemies through a powerful ground hit; and Zeal produces a huge bonus for melee attacks in addition to a simultaneous protective aura around Kay.
Your character will level up through completing missions, killing enemies, performing headshots, shooting accuracy and much more besides which rewards the player with ability unlock points and skill points. Levelling up is essential as it improves the amount of damage you are capable of inflicting to enemies, while receiving less damage from enemies which is made all the more important by your level in comparison to the level of a nearby enemy who could otherwise be far more powerful than your character. Furthermore, there are mission rewards for completing a mission including credits and a reward such as a primary ammo box that refills half of your primary weapon’s ammo, an Instant Medikit which is filled with nutrients and nanites that can heal half of your health or a disposable battery that can quickly recharge 50% of your character’s energy.
There are over 40 weapons which can be upgraded after completing the second mission as the chief engineer Minikin is capable of upgrading the damage, accuracy, codex count, magazine size and reload speed for varying amounts of in-game currency referred to as credits that can be collected from areas throughout the spaceship and are randomly dropped by some enemies too. Given that your inventory size is limited; weaponry of an inferior level and duplicate weapons can be sold in exchange for credits which can be reinvested into purchasing better weapons, upgrading currently equipped weaponry and new special abilities. There are over 30 special abilities with your character’s initial loadout having to be unlocked through ability unlock points which can then be upgraded via upgrade points such as being able to increase damage inflicted by the Shockwave special ability or alternatively reduce the cooldown timer, while a special ability can be downgraded at any moment after being upgraded until you save your upgrades, therefore providing a brief period in which to strategically reallocate that upgrade point to another special ability.
Enemy design is varied as there are numerous enemy types including zombies come in all shapes, sizes and speeds with some of them even having their own attacks such as spitting blood or using a chainsaw; security drones that scan their surrounding areas, firing on sight if they have orders to do so; security dogs that look reminiscent to a crossbreed between a dog and a pinky demon from Doom; soldiers are humans carrying weaponry with specific orders to exterminate all scientific experiments; and more besides. There are also numerous boss fights including a hostile experiment that utilises ultrasound waves to inflict damage upon your character.
The environment design is pretty good as it accurately reflects a spaceship in disarray with confined corridors leading from one larger room to another providing some scares due to the lack of clearance space to run away from enemies, while smoke from vents can obscure enemies that are just up ahead of your character which combines perfectly with the enemy tracker to induce a horror tone. There are a variety of secrets hidden throughout the environments including a varying amount of orbs in every level that are all the same blue holographic styled symbol which must be shot at to be destroyed in addition to a range of collectibles in the form of computers that have stored digital diaries and messages.
Dead Effect 2 is exactly the kind of first-person shooter the Vita is crying out for as it has been quite some time since the releases of Killzone Mercenary and Borderlands 2, but as Dead Effect 2 is not being ported to Vita; at least remote play is a consolation. Dead Effect 2’s remote play performance is excellent as it retains the quality of graphics, audio and general performance from the PS4 version. However, the controls have not been optimised as firing a weapon is mapped to the right of the rear touch pad and aiming is mapped to the left of the rear touch pad which would have felt far more natural if it had been re-mapped to R and L respectively. The same can be stated for crouching and sprinting being mapped to the bottom left and right of the rear touch pad respectively when they may have been better mapped elsewhere such as the bottom left and right of the touch screen. I had the best remote play experience with Dead Effect 2 after re-mapping firing and aiming to R and L respectively in addition to special ability 1 and 2 moving to the top left and right of the rear touch pad; therefore providing a comfortable control scheme much better suited to the first-person shooter genre on Vita, although it is rather oddly impossible to map to each corner of the touch screen as it refers to all four corners of the touch screen as being the equivalent of L2.
The controls are appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the default control scheme consisting of pressing R2 to fire; pressing or holding L2 to aim; pressing L1 or R1 to perform special ability 1 or 2 respectively; pressing square to reload; pressing O to throw a grenade or place a tripmine; pressing X to use an item or interacting with an object such as opening a door via a fingerprint scanner; pressing triangle to activate objective helper; pressing up on the d-pad to open inventory; pressing right or left on the d-pad to cycle to the next or previous weapon respectively; pressing down on the d-pad to turn your flashlight on or off; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move your character; pressing L3 to sprint; pressing R3 to crouch; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to aim and look around your surrounding environments; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. There is no touch pad support within the default control scheme, although you can re-map part of the controls to the touch pad in your own customised control scheme such as holding the touch pad to fire your weapon or tapping it to utilise a special ability. There is rather oddly no vibration even when I most expected to feel it such as the recoil of your weapon as it is being fired and when your character is being attacked by enemies. There is no light bar implementation which is surprising as it could have produced green, yellow, orange, red and flashing red to represent your character’s health or alternatively green for an accessible door and red for an inaccessible door or elevator.
Graphically, Dead Effect 2 has some flare that helps it to excel in its horror elements such as flickering lights, sparks and smoke effects, while enemy models are appropriately scary in design, spaceship environments are futuristic in design and weapons look fiercely capable of destroying the oncoming hordes of zombies amongst other enemies which all plays out at a frantic yet consistent pace.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, play menus, options menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch pad. The background of every menu depicts the exterior of the spaceship your character is trapped within and how close in proximity it is to surrounding planets.
Voice-overs consist of action movie style one-liners from your chosen character, the spaceship’s onboard computer that provides analysis of a drone’s security scan or the de-hibernation process and instructions for where you need to head to in order to progress on with the mission. Sound effects include the pulsing of a tracker reminiscent in style to Aliens, growls from nearby zombies, sparks, distant screams, firing weapons, reloading, using special abilities and ambience such as the ESS Meridian’s nearby generators; which is complimented by an original classical and dramatic score. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation which is a rather odd omission for a horror game relying on atmosphere to not take advantage of an extra layer of audio such as zombies growling and distant screams.
The trophy list includes 64 trophies with 60 bronze trophies, 2 silver trophies, 1 gold trophy and 1 platinum trophy. Almost every trophy is based upon completing part or all of a mission in a certain way with 3 trophies per mission the Get Minikin – Who Needs GPS bronze trophy for finding an elevator card without being told; the Get Minikin – Old-Fashioned bronze trophy for finishing the mission without using an abilities or the paralyzer; and the Get Minikin – Dodged That bronze trophy for not getting hit by the boss’ ultrasound wave. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 20 to 30 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are difficulty levels to show how tough waves and hordes of enemies are in biohazard mode and survival mode. Story missions do not have any difficulty levels, although there are some puzzles that you will encounter periodically such as having to choose numbers that equate to a particular number in order to override a door that your character previously did not have clearance to open. The difficulty curve revolves around enemy levels in relation to your character’s level as being at level 3 with a level 10 enemy approaching will not end well for your character.
Dead Effect 2 rather alarmingly lacks all of the multiplayer features from the PC version. When you consider the PC release has a full suite of online multiplayer functionality including co-operative multiplayer for up to 3 players throughout the entire story campaign and an Unreal Tournament style player vs. player competitive multiplayer for up to 8 players, then it has to be questioned why all of that content was left out of the home console ports.
Dead Effect 2’s replayability stems from numerous story missions accompanied by side missions as well as biohazard mode and survival mode in addition to upgradeable weapons and special abilities, although the lack of multiplayer functionality within home console ports in comparison to a strong multiplayer portion found in the PC version; does genuinely lower the replay value from what it should have been for the PS4 release.
• Title: Dead Effect 2
• Developer: BadFly Interactive
• Publisher: BadFly Interactive
• System: PS4
• Format: PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1
• Hard Drive Space Required: 8.20GB