One of the best gaming experiences I have had in my lifetime is running around the foggy streets of Silent Hill. The protagonist Harry Mason runs around in the fog finding bloody smears, horrid dead dogs on the prowl and a strange radio rumbling with static whenever a presence is near. What Silent Hill gave me then I hoped Dead Strike would give me know. Just looking at the screen captures it is easy to see the heritage of Dead Strike. Dead Strike doesn’t go for the minimal scare approach found in Silent Hill but rather go for an all out killing spree experience akin to modern classic Left 4 Dead.
You select one of the four playable characters, and depending on which you choose some basic characteristics vary. Physical ability to withstand pain to power of bullets fired affect the game somewhat but the largest difference is the basic looks of the hero you control. A couple of pages of text set the scene before you are thrown into a city overrun with the dead.
Dead Strike is a third person shooter with a virtual analogue stick that has been discussed in forums across the iPhone gaming world. I really like it, and find it easy to use and aim with but a lot of users have had trouble with it. The developer wanted to create something akin to Silent Hill, and as you might know Harry Mason wasn’t the best marksman or quickest most agile mover making him feel like an Average Joe thrown into a nightmare. The characters in Dead Strike are created in a Harry Mason kind of mould, and not into a Masterchief mould. On the right side of the screen there are a spin 180 button and aim button. Once you aim you get two new buttons beneath the aim/lower weapon button. The left button lets you reload, and the right fires chosen weapon. I often feel that the fire button is unresponsive, and even more often I manage to spin 180 instead of aiming my gun at the zombies running at me. An aspect of the controls I dislike is the fact that you control the camera by touching, and dragging across the screen. Often I manage to set the camera strangely at the side of my character making it hard to aim with the least bit of accuracy. A special camera button would be appreciated, and really there isn’t much need to move any camera at all to be frank.
While running into the mist zombies keep attacking, and even jump out of windows to get to you. The sound effects are really good giving the best of zombie movies and games a run for their money. It is on par with the great sounds found in Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies for the iPhone. Other effects such as weapon fire, and breaking glass are decent. The music is great adding to the dark haunting atmosphere of the game.
Graphics are ok, and at times it feels like I am back in Silent Hill on the Playstation One. The zombies move in a varied manner from sitting down conserving energy to pelting at full speed at you. There are a lot of graphical glitches though when for example walking to close to a building you can see through it.
The AI of the zombies are ok I guess, I mean zombies are braindead aren’t they? And thus it isn’t too strange if a zombie runs on the spot when stopped by a car or another slower zombie. They tend to swarm though making it hard to get out of the situation unharmed. There are bandages to use at the inventory screen to give you some extra time to live. Between levels you can also buy extra medical supplies as well as new weapons. There are nine different weapons to be found in the game, and no less than 46 levels. One problem though is the fact that it is hard to understand how and why a level is cleared. At times I have met larger zombies that I have killed to progress, and at times I have had to restart a level when I haven’t found anything else to kill. I would like to have some sort of indication to how well I am doing on a level. As it is now I find myself not gravitating towards starting Dead Strike as I feel it is a bit random whether I will make any progress in the time I put into the game.
Dead Strike is a competent shooter filling a void in the zombie killing genre. It isn’t scary as Silent Hill, and it isn’t as hectic as Left 4 Dead but it is still a killing feast at times when the zombies cooperate to swarm you. It can go in two directions in my mind, either fleshing out the story to add a bit of eeriness or skipping the story and throwing double the amount of undead at you. The middle road it takes now gets boring when you have been running around looking for stuff to kill for a couple of minutes. The developer seems really eager to update, and depending on choice of direction the game might become an iPhone classic. As it is now I can recommend you to try the lite version to see if the pacing is ok for you, and if you find the controls abysmal or ok as I do. I find the game to be a bit too slow, and the level goals too unclear. If you are looking for the best zombie shooter this is not it, actually Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies is, but Dead Strike is worth the $1.99 asking price for the screaming running zombies alone.