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Wanted: Dead – Review

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The world is at war and governments have fell to pieces leaving major corporations in control, Dauer synthetics is one of these mega-corps who have been using former war criminals within the Hong Kong police force.
You’ll take control of Hannah Stone, Lieutenant of the Zombie Squad, alongside Herzog, Doc and Cortez.

Dauer, while the overarching governor of Zombie squad, are also up to something shady, so most of the story will centralise around Dauer and the emergence of a synthetic humanoid army.

When you start off, you’re thrown into a battle at Dauer HQ after a silent alarm has been triggered, you’ll be tasked with progressing through the level, killing everything in sight, because clearly the zombie squad don’t carry any handcuffs with them, which ultimately ruffles a few feathers.
You’re likely to start off running for cover as you’re showered with bullets, this works well and will see Stone snap to cover effectively the vast majority of the time, you can then pop-out of cover Rainbow Six Vegas style to shoot a few distant enemies.
When enemies get closer (or you inevitably run out of ammo) you’ll be forced to use melee, which is by far the most effective scheme, coming from the team behind Ninja Gaiden, the simple melee system works incredibly well.
All sword attacks are on the X button, with the addition of a short-range handgun using Y, mixing these two attacks together can produce some effective combos, there’s also an evasive dodge using A, and the opportunity to block and parry with LB. There’s also some stylish executions triggered by hitting Y & B together when the enemy has taken enough of a beating and flashes.

Quite often with similar games, you’ll find a system that works best for you and mostly utilise the same technique, but Wanted: Dead won’t let you get off that easy.
While alot of the enemies within each level look very familiar, there attacks will vary, meaning you’ll need to use the block/parry with some incoming threats, while others can be sliced up without too much hassle, the handgun is essential as it often staggers enemies opening them up for a combo, and it’s a great way to prevent unblockable attacks.

Enemies are usually pretty simple as long as you’re using all of the above techniques, but it’s important to try and isolate them as the sometimes awkward camera angle can leave you unable to see incoming attacks when surrounded by enemies.

For the majority of the game you will have the rest of Zombie Squad with you, they’re mostly for decoration as they’ll normally stick close to you and don’t seem to output a lot of damage, but they do serve as a welcome distraction to help isolate enemies and pick them off one by one.
Back to gunplay and you’re main weapon is called “Stone’s Rifle” and like the “Taker” handgun, this can be customised with the multiple attachments you’ll randomly unlock as you progress.

With Ammo pretty limited, you’re never going to put too much time into utilising weapons, so I kept Stone’s rifle better for accuracy and range, to pick off those pesky enemies hiding at distance with a grenade launcher.
There’s also a selection of weapons you can pick up, which will help thin the ranks a little, but again ammo is always pretty scarce, so it’s always best to melee enemies when there’s no major ranged threat.

Progressing through the storyline, you’ve going to encounter a number of locations split up into main regions, within each region you’ll face a small army of enemies that look very similar who are mixed between melee and ranged attackers, you’ll also find Drone’s, which give you a chance to replenish the much needed stim-packs for recovering health, and grenades, as well as a crucial checkpoint.

Many of these checkpoints are a little too few and far between, and when you die, you’re usually going to have to replay quite a section, which becomes a challenge of losing as little health as possible early on, so you’ve got some in reserve for the tougher encounters before the next checkpoint.

It doesn’t help that many enemies don’t want to die, even after having an arm chopped off, they’ll still be charging towards you trying to kick out, so a flurry of strikes isn’t always enough, especially with synthetic enemies.

In contrast, when you do get a variety of human enemies, such as the start of the Death Panther Club, it feels unbalanced as large groups of enemies can be ripped apart quicker than a battle against a few synth’s earlier on.

As well as the standard mission progression, things are broken up a little with collectables, navigating the police HQ and mini-games which unlock with progression.

The shooting gallery and training are decent ways of practicing while unlocking a few easy achievements,
I spent far too much time with the crane game, trying to win every individual figure, but the Ramen eating and Karaoke games are rhythm action mini-games, that leave a lot to be desired.
Firstly the ramen eating uses all 4 face-buttons and both triggers. 6 buttons at speed and without any real rhythm is tough enough but then you unlock the karaoke.
Now required to use 10 buttons in total, things are made worse by a slight stutter to the fluidity, making the beats near impossible to consistently hit on time.

The final mini game, is a side-scrolling shooter, which isn’t bad, but it’s still brutally tough and is more likely to leave you feeling frustrated.

Unfortunately that frustration is all too familiar in Wanted: Dead, frustrating checkpoints, frustrating enemy repetition, frustrating ammo supplies and frustrating minigames.
But that didn’t stop me enjoying large portions of the games.
The boss fights will challenge you, but once you’ve figured out the best way to beat them, you’ll wonder why you ever struggled, especially with one latter boss, I was able to constantly dodge-roll away from him and keep firing my handgun to slowly defeat him on the first attempt.
Others, might take a few attempts before you even work out what you’re supposed to be doing, and that fantastic and tough Spider Tank boss, was disappointingly simple when you realise what you have to do.

There’s definitely a range of ways gameplay could still be improved with further patches, such as lowering the difficulty a tad, and making enemies less of a bullet sponge, (and still giving us more ammo), But like the Ninja Gaiden series, Wanted: Dead is intentionally tough, and fans of Ninja Gaiden will definitely appreciate what Wanted: Dead is trying to achieve, which, for the most part, does a good job, especially with the melee combat.

Overall presentation is as mixed as the gameplay, graphics in parts look great, and some of the cut-scenes are pretty impressive, but it all falls a little flat with some over the top motion blur.
Sound isn’t any better with a decent soundtrack spoilt by repetitive soundbites from enemies, which can leave you hearing the same line multiple times before the next kill.
With some mediocre voice acting, Stone’s foreign roots make conversations feel a little dry and lifeless, and Doc & Herzog are your stereotypical good-cop, bad-cop routine are as cheesy and boring as they sound, leaving some of the best conversation coming from the Captain who you’ll only speak to outside of the main missions and Cortez (who’s deaf and doesn’t speak).

The narrator / weapons expert “Gunsmith” (Vivienne) who’s played by Metal Gear Solid V’s “Quiet” – Stefanie Joosten does a fantastic job of salvaging things, but it’s a real shame the same care and attention wasn’t put into casting all of the characters.

The same could be said about much of the character models, some are perfectly fine, but others just don’t quite feel right, Stone’s head feels too small, her eyes too big, and while there’s plenty of good, there’s just a few too many negatives.

There’s no doubt Wanted: Dead will provide a fun and challenging 8-10 hours of gameplay, and is well worth checking out, it’d be easy to be more critical of Wanted: Dead, but there’s definitely a decent game at it’s heart, which will hopefully be improved further with a future patch.

With more games hitting the £60+ mark, it’s nice to see Wanted: Dead at £49.99, but I still think most will find the best value waiting for a sale.

Wanted: Dead

Review by Lee Palmer



There’s no doubt Wanted: Dead will provide a fun and challenging 8-10 hours of gameplay, and is well worth checking out, it’d be easy to be more critical of Wanted: Dead, but there’s definitely a decent game at it’s heart, which will hopefully be improved further with a future patch.


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