Dead Alliance (Playstation 4 Review)
Multiplayer FPS has gone the way of the Hero shooter lately, with Overwatch dominating and games like Lawbreakers attempting, and failing, to take the crown away from Blizzard. There are, however, some developers that are keen to keep things a bit more interesting. Dead Alliance is one of those games, and it has a pretty interesting hook to it.
As opposed to a regular multiplayer shooter where you kill enemies to get points, with other objective-based game modes that you’d be used to seeing in other games of it’s ilk, Dead Alliance has decided to add in zombies into the experience. While this may make people sigh in boredum and fatigue of the zombie game formula, the approach is genuinely unique in terms of other zombie games. The zombies are not the enemy, but rather an environmental hazard, only really attacking you in close proximity. The zombies act as more of an addition to the map than the main focus of the game, which is of course shooting enemy players and completing the objectives in the match. Think of the zombies as the AI in Titanfall, except, of course, mindless undead that aren’t a real threat unless they overwhelm you. Much like some of the enemies in Titanfall, these zombie hazards can be interacted with to your own benefit.
This is the other side of the great twist to this formula are the gadgets you are equipped with to deal with this hazard. These gadgets are used to interact with the zombies around the map, whether it’s pushing them away from you, gathering them in a location, or most importantly, enraging them to charge at opposing players. It brings a great deal of tactical thinking to the game, allowing you to place traps by getting zombies to chase you before setting them loose upon whoever is on the enemy team.
Score streaks, akin to Call of Duty, are also placed in the game. If you’re doing well without dying, you have the option to deploy things such as Radar, showing where zombies and enemies are on the mini-map and even includes a crate of weaponized zombies that will drop and immediately seek out the enemy.
Unfortunately, all these fantastic ideas are surrounding a game that just feels dull to play. The aiming is stiff on PS4, and the shooting feels uninspired, weak and even sounds uninteresting. The game modes themselves don’t use the zombies to their greatest effect, resulting in the rank and file modes you see in every shooter: Domination, where you capture 3 points on the map; Deathmatch, and so on. While the zombies do change the way you play these game modes, it’d be more interesting to see some modes that utilize the zombies more effectively.
The UI is also something of a problem. While the in-game UI works and is intuitive, the class customization and selection menus are the complete opposite. The customization in particular is the most obstructive, allowing you to put three attachments on your weapons but showing you three identical lines of every attachment in the game. It’s difficult to navigate, and redundant in places. There are also problems in the main menu, and in-game itself, with the borders of the game being cut off, where this doesn’t happen in other games that I have played. Without an option to change the borders yourself, this means that the game looks unclean, and it can be frustrating.
There’s also issues with the progression system of the game, mainly due to upgrades dupped “The Hideout.” The progression system itself sometimes doesn’t even award you experience for completing a match, and the Hideout upgrades are filled with direct power gain, meaning if you happened to be lower levels you are at a severe disadvantage to other players.
Frustrating is definitely the word that describes Dead Alliance the most. Great ideas that just weren’t implemented correctly, with the core game itself being dull and uninspired. It screams of the developers just having little experience and wanted too many features at once. There is potential here, but it would require a lot of work to overhaul the game and turn it into something truly unique in terms of zombie games and multiplayer shooters.
Editor’s Note: We are fortunate enough to have Chris Peebles, formerly of XBLG, contribute this piece to the site. You can find his works on sites like RealmOfGaming or find him on twitter @Sitoxity. You can even watch him play an eclectic mix of games on his YouTube Channel.