There was a recent Freddie Wong video that satirizes how bad most FPS games are on smartphones, and this is mostly true except for the zombie FPS Dead Trigger. Dead Trigger 1 was one of the earliest games I downloaded when I made the transition to Android, and it stayed in my phone for a really long time. It was the game I used as evidence when people would ask me “Should I ditch my iPhone too?” because it had really amazing graphics, tight controls, and surprising replayability.
Now the sequel is out, and is it better? Yes and no.
The story seems to be better woven into the gameplay now, with a solo campaign that has missions that don’t play like the regular grinding missions, and characters that carry over from mission to mission and even into your HQ. You’ll get to operate a turret from a helicopter, fight a giant super-zombie (it doesn’t quite explain why this particular boss exists though) and unlock new support characters. That said, the story is still pretty piss weak without any character growth or plot. But it’s not like you were really paying attention to the storyline anyway, right?
Gameplay has been tweaked slightly in that the shoot and zoom buttons have been removed. Now, your guns will automatically fire when you have a zombie lined up in your sights, as long as it is within your current weapon’s effective range. This might sound like its oversimplifying things, but it actually makes it a lot more playable. Now you can sidestep while still pumping lead into a zombie, which is particularly useful when up against the spitting Vomitrons (a new boss zombie with a ranged attack).
The only time I didn’t appreciate the auto-fire feature is against zombies like the Rager and Panzer, where shooting them in the back is far more effective and ammo-efficient. However, if I keep them in my sights while stepping to their backs, I’ll probably run out of ammo by the time I reach their backs. And how long does it take to reload? Just enough time for them to recover and face me again. However, I think it’s more pro than con.
Graphically, Dead Trigger 2 doesn’t look that much better than 1 if you ask me. But still, it was really good looking to begin with and I still think these are some of the best looking games I’ve come across on Android. The zombies look really good, and through a combination of gorgeous textures and dim lighting the designers managed to effectively conceal their low poly-counts. The levels are now larger than before, with a greater feeling of expansiveness. There is also a greater variety of locations to shoot zombies in, ranging across two continents (currently only USA and Africa).
A new side-campaign mechanic requires you to help in a global effort to reclaim a city from the zombies. A particular city will have a huge number of zombies, and players around the world will contribute to the reclamation efforts by doing missions in that city to kill zombies. Once the city is unlocked all contributing players will receive a reward, like items or the plans for a new gun. It’s definitely a nice way to help players feel like they’re part of a greater zombie-killing effort without actually incorporating a true multiplayer component.
The same problem that haunted Dead Trigger 1 is back: if you’re not going to spend on IAP, then get ready to grind quite a bit for the better weapons. In fact, it’s even worse now. Here are the steps you need to take in order to get a new weapon:
- Reach a tech level that unlocks the weapon. To do this, you need to upgrade the scientist in your HQ. Upgrading takes time and money.
- Once the weapon is unlocked, then you need to acquire all necessary blueprints to build it. Bits of blueprints are randomly dropped by boss zombies, and while melee weapons might only require two pieces, bigger guns will need up four or more. There is a way to skip the blueprint farming process though – spending on IAP.
- Once you get all the blueprints, then you need to upgrade your gunsmith to the necessary level to build it. That takes time and money.
- Once your gunsmith is ready and able to build it, then you need to build it. Guess what that requires? Time… and money.
At one point I had such shitty guns that I had to really grind and grind by doing the easier missions (the Sentinel missions where you operate a sniper rifle or turret were my go-to ones for this) until I could upgrade my weapon. Not very fun at all.
There is a problem with the control scheme, in that your movement is a bit gimped after you get hit by a melee zombie like the Rager or Panzer. If I get whacked by these guys when I’m near a wall, I may as well quit the game because the stumbling just lets them whack you down again and again until you die. I think it’s a problem with the virtual thumbstick, because it seems to reset to the center position after you take a hit. So you have to take your thumb off the screen and move again every time you get hit. It’s not very user-friendly in this way.
In the first game, I kept coming back for more because there were daily missions to do that reward you with chips to hit up the casino in hopes of scoring cash and gold. No such feature exists in the sequel, which doesn’t really give me much incentive to play anymore once I finished the single player campaign. Yes, there is that city reclamation component, but as far as I know you only need to do one mission in order to claim the prize. Contributing even more to the effort by killing lots and lots of zombies doesn’t seem to net you any greater rewards. Kill 1 or kill a million, and you’ll still get the same reward. So why bother?
That’s pretty much the worst part of this game… the lack of incentive to go back. I had Dead Trigger 1 on my phone for the better part of a year, but I’m pretty much done with Dead Trigger 2 after a week or so. There is no Arena mode with leaderboards, the big weapons are just too much of a grind to get, and well… I honestly don’t care much for the story.
But it isn’t a bad game. In fact, it’s a pretty fun game and still the best FPS on smart devices. I just don’t know why they scrapped the elements that made the original so replayable.