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Tell us if you've heard this one before. In Dead Effect, you assume the role of an elite soldier aboard a spaceship, where an infection has turned everyone into zombies. Odds are, this setup is not unlike one you've seen numerous times before, and unfortunately it's not just the story that proves so familiar. The weapons, setting, music, and enemies are all equally uninspired, and the gunplay is too weak to compensate. As a result, Dead Effect is a thoroughly run-of-the-mill first-person shooter.
The enemies you'll decimate are dumb, even by zombie standards, and generally nonthreatening. It's easy to consistently stay out of their reach, and, aside from some blood, their bodies have no reaction to being shot until they're slain. Aiming is also a chore, with the controls using an ineffective combination of virtual buttons and joysticks along the lines of those seen in most other iOS shooters. Plus the levels feature so many repetitive environments that it would be easy to get lost if they weren't so linear. Movement is sluggish, thanks to the lack of a sprint button, and the "special ability" that slows down time seems more like a way to enhance the controls' usability than anything else. Drawn-out sequences that have players swiping along the screen to escape a zombie's clutches are needless, as is the process of tapping the screen repeatedly to open lockers.
It's difficult to not also call attention to Dead Effect's narrative elements. The story is unoriginal and uninteresting, but it's the dialogue and the voice acting that really cause it to stand out. There's a good reason that voice acting isn't common in mobile games, and Dead Effect exemplifies that with hilariously bad performances and writing. Take the following gem, for example: "And now the moment has come which I have been looking forward to. Finally we are meeting face to face. And one of us will die. But it is not going to be me, hahaha."
As we laughed at the dialogue and became more accustomed to the controls, we found ourselves having something resembling a modicum of fun, because who doesn't enjoy shooting zombies? But those moments are fleeting, and for every positive element – like solid graphics and sound effects – there's something to gripe about on the other end, whether it's the dull upgrade system or unremarkable shooting.
The bottom line. Dead Effect is an uninspired first-person shooter that does nothing original, proving most memorable for its hilariously awful dialogue.
iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch running iOS 6.0 or later
Solid graphics and sound effects. Stat tracking for each level provides a reason to replay stages.
Enemies don't react to being shot. Abysmal dialogue. Complete lack of creativity. Controls aren't very reliable.