Yes, a mobile game looks this sexy. Oh, and one more thing: zombies.
Holy shit. Those were the first words that escaped our lips upon seeing Dead Trigger, the drop-dead gorgeous first-person shooter from Shadowgun developer Madfinger Games. Next to Infinity Blade II, this is the most visually-arresting mobile game we've seen, as well as the type of product that has to make console designers a bit uneasy, because if you can get something this phenomenal looking on smartphones and tablets today, what sorts of games can we expect a year from now?
Of course, one must remember there's still a video game buried beneath the meticulously crafted weapons, post-apocalyptic environments, particles, fire/water effects and blood-covered zombies. Most importantly, it has to play well and offer multiple hours of fun to boot, two requirements that the studio behind Dead Trigger positively nailed. We'll even go a step further and say this is without a doubt the smoothest playing/running portable first-person game on any handheld platform, and this includes PlayStation Vita. There are some issues. A zombie might accidentally teleport a few feet, the result of a minor glitch, but for the most part, it's superb.
The story takes place in 2012 (seems the Mayans were correct) during the zombie apocalypse. As one of the few survivors, you navigate a 3D city map selecting missions that cover the gamut of zombie games. Some task you with preventing zombies from destroying vans or smashing through doors, while others send you on search and retrieval quests to find items. Others simply boil down to disposing of the undead.
Completing or even failing these quests nets you a certain amount of cash and experience, both of which are essential to progressing through the game. You need to move up in rank to gain access to all 14 weapons, while cash proves useful in purchasing and then upgrading most of them; others require gold to unlock. You'll also be able to acquire valuable items, like bandages, grenades, stationary gun turrets and these cool saw machines that slice zombies' limbs off.
That said, there's a reason Dead Trigger costs $0.99. Madfinger clearly wants players to splurge via in-app purchases on more cash and gold, as acquiring both through traditional grinding is a very slow process, and gold is next to impossible to obtain normally. At least on the positive side, you can do a whole lot of damage with just $0.99, which nets you $40,000 virtual currency; 200 Gold costs the same amount. Of course, if you feel like breaking the bank, $800,000 and 4,000 gold cost $9.99 and $12.99 respectively. Compared to most games fueled by IAP, this isn't bad at all.
Besides, it's in your best interest to unlock all those guns as quickly as possible, since they're so cool. Madfinger did a great job populating Dead Trigger with a sweet assortment of deadly toys, including the Colt M4, Project 90 (P90 to most gamers, AKA the N64 GoldenEye gun), the Striker, UZI and even a mini-gun, all of which feature unique stats that break down like this: Damage, Accuracy, Clip and Range. What's more, the detail on each weapon is on point, complete with moving parts for some. And of course, the biggest thrills come from taking a high-powered machine gun or shotgun into battle to splatter zombies, take off their heads, arms, legs (yes, they still crawl after you) and even torsos, whereupon which they explode into a red paste.
About the only thing dragging this game down is the lack of variety as it pertains to the missions. You'll soon discover everything's more or less the same; protecting doors versus vans, for instance. Eventually, you'll begin to wander through the same old environments, and if you're that resistant to in-app purchases, the slow slog to unlock the best guns and gear may feel like a chore. That, and you can't aim down a weapon's iron sights for some odd reason.
None of this, however, should prevent you from buying Dead Trigger; it is just $0.99, after all. Not only is it a landmark mobile game in terms of graphics, but it's also one hell of a first-person zombie shooter full of gore and an arsenal that'd make the Terminator blush. Yes, Madfinger has done it again. It's the end of the world, and we feel fine.
What's Hot: Stupendous mobile game graphics, a powerful collection of weapons and equipment, mowing down zombies and seeing their heads splatter, affordably-priced in-app cash and gold, surprisingly responsive first-person controls.
What's Not: Repetitive missions and environments, you can't aim down the iron sights.