Zombies. Again that joke.
Much as I love a good zombie apocalypse as much as the next person, isn’t it about time that the developers found a different subject for their games. Seriously, every other game that I look at seems to have zombies in it. It’s getting a bit mad now. Every time a bush shakes in Pokemon, I am expecting a zombie to leap out and start munching at my brains. Maybe we can move on to some other mythical creature, such as fairies or the beast that steals socks from my tumble dryer?
Anyway, much as I am slightly fed up with the subject matter, at least Trapped Dead from Headup Games and Iceberg Interactive is trying to do something more interesting with the shambling hordes of the undead. In Trapped Dead the player has the chance to flex their strategic muscles rather than another session of run and gun gaming.
The game is set in 1982, a good year for zombie invasions I believe, and begins in a rather classic way, with a couple of students that are completely oblivious to the situation that they have wandered into. From an isometric point of view, the player will have to guide their hero through the ever increasing zombie hordes, from one place of apparent safety to the next, whilst gathering more survivors to build a team that has at least some chance of survival. There are six different characters to be controlled, each with their own strengths and weaknesses to bring to your team of survivors.
As the player progresses through the game and increases the size of their team, they will come across different weapons to use against the undead and different ways of dispatching them. There is a decent selection of both melee and ranged weapons available, with the player starting off with the humble, yet iconic, baseball bat. More interesting are the times when the player can think tactically and use the environment to cease the zombie onslaught. Playing cat and mouse with slow-moving zombies is always fun, and leading them into traps is just the icing on the undead cake.
To progress, the player has to simply get all of their team to the end of the level. This is all managed with a fairly straight-forward, if slightly niggly, control scheme. A click on the left mouse button for movement and the right button to attack. The main problem with this is not the way it is implemented, which works quite well, but the fact that occasionally your clicks seem to be completely ignored. I know they are slow, but even zombies can catch your character if he just stands still. It doesn’t happen all of the time, but if it happens at a critical moment then it can leave the player feeling incredibly frustrated as they watch their character being heavily munched upon.
The levels themselves are all quite large and nicely detailed. There is a fairly obvious path through to the end of each level, making it easy for the player to progress. However, the majority of the levels give very little reason to stray from this path, making for a very linear experience, which is a real shame given the size of the levels and the scope for exploration. This also makes the game rather repetitive in places, moving along a pre-determined path, from one checkpoint to the next, taking out any zombies in your way, only to do it all again for the next stretch of the level.
The inclusion of co-op gameplay goes someway towards easing the repetitiveness and injecting some fun into this apocalyptic game. But the community for this game is relatively small and players may well have trouble finding anyone to play with. In this respect, Trapped Dead shines when you can convince your gaming friends to pick up the game at the same time.
From a visual side of things, the game has a great artistic style, from the comic book cut-scenes to the almost comic styled drawing of the backgrounds and characters. It is all really well done and gives the game a unique look amongst the zombie genre. Whilst it may not instill the sense of terror that some people may expect from a zombie game, it goes a long way towards making the game itself more enjoyable.
Trapped Dead has a nice look and some interesting ideas. The control issues may well annoy, and the repetitiveness of the linear gameplay will certainly leave gamers yearning for something different. But if you can find a buddy with the game and indulge in some co-op action, the issues of trapped dead become largely insignificant in the face of the sociable fun that can be found in destroying the undead and kicking the butt of a zombie apocalypse.
Trapped Dead is available from GamersGate for just£19.95