Dead Panic, well those are two words that don’t go too well together. Either you are dead or you are panicking like crazy. The dead don’t panic, at least not those I have encountered in the countless zombie games and movies during my lifetime. Zombies tend to be quite laid back, and you can’t blame them since they haven’t got any reason to hurry. In Dead Panic they move quite slowly, and even if your soldiers blast them into pieces with their machine guns they stick to their slow slouchy walk.
Dead Panic is a survival game combining the mechanics of tower defence with barricade defence. You get to control the line of sight(LOS) of the soldiers under your command. Tap a soldier, and choose which direction he aims. Once an enemy enters the LOS the soldier fires until the threat has been terminated. The challenge comes from the hordes of zombies, super zombies and spiders swarming your team of soldiers from all directions. You have to make sure that no enemies reach your soldiers as they tend to eat them, and that as you all know is a bad thing. Dead soldiers don’t panic though as they remain dead.
The soldiers can’t shoot through walls or over obstacles making it harder to get full coverage depending on the level layout. At times you get to move your soldier into new positions adjusting your coverage. Some levels also features movable blockades that you get to place along with your soldiers at the start of the level. These barricades stop the horde, and force them to take another route.
In campaign mode you have to kill all enemies to proceed to the next level. In the top left corner you get to see the percentage of enemies killed so far. To me the campaign levels are simply too slow, and I get bored before I finish them. Thankfully the game saves your progression in the current level giving you the option to continue later on. Would have liked to have a more intense campaign mode instead. The story is told in large chunks of text between levels. It is supposed to be funny, and kind of fooling around with zombie and horror stereotypes but the presentation is too dull to convey that.
I was about to slap a really poor rating onto Dead Panic as I got bored from the uninspired campaign mode. Then I gave the survival mode a spin, and finally I got to feel some panic among all the walking dead. In survival you play until all of your soldiers are dead, and then you get to post your highscore to the leaderboards powered by Openfeint. What sets survival apart from the campaign mode is the upgrades and extra soldiers you can buy. For each killed enemy you gain a credit that can be used in the shop. Depending on the demands of the level and current situation you can choose to relocate soldiers, heal them, buy extra damage, buy nets that stops enemies or buy new soldiers. The price of new soldiers increases in relation to the number of soldiers you have.
The graphics in Dead Panic is ok at best. I think that the enemies are a bit boring as each enemy only have one look. Zombies should come in a variety of shapes and sizes. When you kill something it vanishes instantly not leaving any bloody rotting carcass behind.
The music is ambient horror really suitable to the game, and the sound effects are good with some nice weapon fire that of course becomes somewhat grating as your soldiers fire most of the time. You can play your own music in unison with the sound effects. Vibration signals that your soldiers are taking damage, and as far as I can tell it can’t be turned off.
Two different levels of difficulty, and Openfeint achievements add a fair amount of content. There are 13 levels in the campaign demanding quite different strategies depending on the layout.
My initial experience playing the campaign was that even though I enjoyed the Close Combat styled LOS strategy gameplay it was too slow. With the newly implemented survival mode Dead Panic takes leaps forwards regarding gameplay. Intensity is added alongside the strategy that comes from having a budget to spend on upgrades. An updated gallery of enemies, and revamped graphics could make this a must have. In the current state it is a jolly fun game if you stick to the survival mode.