In the opening sequence of Dead Assault 3D Pro, a gaggle of gangrenous arms bursts through a plot of rotten earth, clawing at the screen, before we pan upward into the foggy lot of a hospital guarded by two heavily armed soldiers who flank the main menu. The animation is nice –– and that’s exactly as good as this game ever gets. TIMUZ, a prolific casual gaming developer who claims to have more than 2,000 games under its belt, may wish to review its focus on quantity over quality. Games like this zombie shooter feel rushed to market, leaving decent animation and a trendy premise clinging to an otherwise bare skeleton.
Click start, and you’ll choose between the Bruce Willis-y General Commander Steve Olonan, and Angelina Jolie-ish Lieutenant Commander Terri Venus. Then you must choose to play in the Arcade Zone or the Objective Zone. The former sounds like a basic survival mode and the latter sounds like a narrative or a set of different goals, but don’t get your hopes up: the two are nearly identical except that the Objective Zone obligates you to save helpless hospital patients from hungry zombies.
The two Zones are differentiated almost only by choice of environment: the Arcade Zone places you in a fenced-in cemetery, and the Objective Zone confines you to a handful of hospital chambers around a spacious waiting room. The Arcade Zone is there for you to practice your shooting, which you will rapidly discover is fruitless –– your gun auto-locks onto the general direction from which the most recent zombie has spawned, making it impossible to aim at the zombies that are closest to you. In order to effectively mow down the ghouls who emerge mysteriously from every wall, you have to learn to run erratically around your target in order to force the zombie to enter and evaporate in your unalterable stream of bullets. You can accumulate cash to buy guns, but even if you’ve already purchased one of the two (non-upgradeable) options, you can’t access the weapons menu to equip them without beginning and playing through part of a round.
Where the combat simulation fails, the imagery does little to pick up the slack. In spite of the horror genre’s dark and stormy night imperative, both Zones could do with much better lighting. The character animation is pleasingly smooth and the blood spattered sets appear suitably detailed, and there is even a sense that the zombies probably come in a few stimulating varieties. Unfortunately, the game is much too murky to give these factors their due. Since you see everything from a bird’s eye view rather than an intimate first person perspective, the particulars of the art shrink even further from your perception. Compounding the problem of the low impact visuals is the limited space in which you play—both the cemetery walls and the hospital floor occupy far too little space, and have within them too many little enclaves that lead nowhere and contain nothing.
Dead Assault could try to leverage the player’s tenuous attention with a variety of solid, interesting achievements to meet, but there exists only one in the Objective Zone, and the payoff for achieving it isn’t clear. Once you hit the floor in the hospital and begin waging war on the shambling hordes, a 30-second counter will appear along with an instruction to find and save a victim as quickly as possible. As you search the rooms, you will discover many hapless humans kicking and writhing on their backs, each next to a promising-looking white box –– which you’ll then discover is nothing but a faux medikit, sitting uselessly next to people that you can’t interact with. Your goal is to find the person who is currently being savaged by a zombie, and if you kill that zombie in the act, a glowing green box with a cross on it appears (also not a medikit). You walk over it to pick it up and it vanishes in a swirl of sparks –– but this success doesn’t end the round and there is no penalty for failing to save the victim . Whatever accomplishment you may have achieved doesn’t appear to register anywhere on the score screen at the end of a game, so it seems the game cares as little about your successful completion of the objective as you probably do.
TIMUZ had two opportunities to make Dead Assault 3D Pro into a pretty good piece of casual entertainment –– refine the visceral and visual impact of gunning down the walking dead, or diversify the game’s goals and narrative –– and they have firmly ignored both, probably in favor of pushing this game out and starting a new one sooner rather than later. With zombie shooters flooding the market like a veritable plague of their own, from the brainlessly brutal to the elegant and elaborate, Dead Assault 3D Pro just doesn’t do enough to earn its seat at the flesheaters’ table.*
Is it Hardcore?
No on your afterlife.
The art and animation suggest that TIMUZ is capable of crafting an effective horror game, but the developer doesn’t demonstrate any real commitment to the cause.