Dead 'n' Furious (Nintendo DS) - Review by Andrew
While Dream-On studios are not known for the quantity of titles they have produced there's no doubting their quality and a quick browse at their website gives a glimpse of what these handheld visionaries are currently teasing DS gamers with. Dead 'n' Furious is one such title, we followed its progress throughout the latter part of 2006 and were a little bemused when it fell off the radar. It was released but only in selected parts of Europe, which was strange really due to the fact that both the game and manual are in English. The game however should soon be unleashed on the British and American public although in the states it will be renamed Touch the Dead. Enough of the history lesson though, what's all the fuss about?
Dead 'n' Furious is basically an on-the-rails shooter. The kind of thing you used to play with a light gun at the arcades only here you play with your stylus. What this means from a gamer's point of view is that all movement is controlled automatically with only changes of direction allowed at selected points on the route. This doesn't make a great difference though as you'll still end up in the same place. However one way will allow you to pick up more ammo and health whilst the other will send you into a mob of angry zombies and creepy crawlies. There are also doors and boxes to be opened with the help of a well-aimed bullet but what's inside is anyone's guess.
Your adventure begins in prison with you playing the part of Rob Steiner, a military trained inmate. As you awake in the middle of the night you realize that not only is it incredibly quiet but also your cell door is open. Not wanting to miss an opportunity you begin to investigate and it becomes apparent that all is not well. Fortunately you discover a handgun in one of the nearby rooms (the only weapon with unlimited ammo) and you're off down the dark corridors to explore. Almost immediately you meet your first group of zombies but you will find the handgun sufficient so long as you keep your cool and don't waste shots. Allow them to reach you and they'll lash out at you depleting your valuable health. You will find that a carefully picked shot is always more sensible than simply shooting randomly especially when you consider that you have to reload manually.
There are four episodes in all, each of which is broken down into chapters with the game saved automatically at the end of each one. During your journey you'll travel though the prison, the sewers, up over the roof, through the swamps and beyond and it's fair to say that all the combat is a little tiring. Each chapter is punctuated by an end of level boss but rather than leaving you to discover its weak points, a screen precedes each battle detailing exactly how to defeat your current foe. There's also a multiplayer but as it requires two copies of the game we were unable to test it out.
Unusually your traditional controls are almost useless here and if it wasn't from the touch screen this game wouldn't be nearly as much fun. You will need the control pad, but only to select your weapon of choice from the top screen.
Visually this is by no means the best looking game on the DS and some of the areas look positively blocky. It does, though, move along at a fair pace regardless of how many zombies you are currently dealing with. As a bonus you can also collect conceptual artwork from the game, which is a must for all you budding graphic designers out there.
The ambient soundtrack is wonderfully atmospheric and does a fine job of building up the tension in between zombie battles. Elsewhere the sound effects are spot on and if you really want to pile on the pressure play the whole thing through a good set of headphones.
This really is where it all happens as each of the weapons demand that you use the stylus to in order to fire them. This is simply a case of touching the screen where you want to shoot although you will have to drag the ammo back into your gun when it runs out, if you have any left that is. The only exception to this rule is when you find the tire iron, which is dragged across the screen in order to break down doors or, should you deplete all your ammo, to fight off Zombies.
While not entirely original, Dead 'n' Furious is an untapped genre on the DS and while it's not a visual feast it certainly good where it counts: gameplay. Unfortunately, with only one copy of the game we didn't get an opportunity to try out the two player side of things but as far as a single player experience goes, Dead 'n' Furious is an entertaining, gun firing romp like nothing else you've seen on the DS. Order your copy now
Pro: Untapped Genre, Frantic Gameplay, Great Atmospheric Soundtrack.
Con: Enemies Sometimes Hard to See.
Final score: 8.7