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.
Following a tutorial outlining its unique controls, The Drowning tasks you with a reasonable mission for a game about shooting zombie-like creatures: Clear out the area around a potential headquarters. Two minutes later, you might be confused as to why it's over when there are still enemies to slay. Soon, it becomes clear that that's all there is to the game's approach – a series of two-minute time attacks against endless waves of brain-dead enemies. It's not really a bad thing, as it keeps the game playable on the go, but you'll soon find that freemium drawbacks stack up in a hurry and take away from the enjoyable and uniquely controlled combat within.
Following the initial announcement this spring of its impending release, Aspyr revealed this week that well-received first-person shooter sequel BioShock Infinite will make its Mac debut on August 29. The vibrant adventure, which is the best-selling multiplatform release of 2013 thus far according to NPD, launched on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 back in March. Pre-orders for the shooter are open now from Aspyr's own GameAgent service, though it will also be available via the Mac App Store and Steam.
Creating a new installment in the Deus Ex series is ambitious by definition. To meet the lofty expectations of fans (who've been perpetually on guard since 2003's disappointing Deus Ex: Invisible War), the games need to deliver freely explorable, believable worlds; unique characters who react to (and remember) your actions; multiple paths through their environments and multiple solutions to every problem; and smart, cleverly written storytelling rife with philosophical ruminations on the relationship between humans and technology.
To attempt all of this on a console or PC is tricky. To attempt it on iOS seems impossible, but — surprisingly enough — Deus Ex: The Fall does a competent job replicating the gameplay of 2011's Deus Ex: Human Revolution, albeit as a somewhat stripped-down companion story.
On consoles, The House of the Dead: Overkill took one of the most well-trodden premises imaginable – shooting zombies in first-person, on rails – and used it to create one of the most memorably over-the-top games of all time. Taking tropes from grindhouse horror movies and cranking them to ridiculous levels, HotD:O was gruesome, hectic, and – as its characters awkwardly shoehorned f-bombs into nearly every sentence – so deliberately crass that it was impossible to see it as anything other than a comedy. The iOS version, subtitled The Lost Reels, scales all that back considerably.
It's easy to lose perspective on a game like Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour, particularly for those of us who enjoy lavish first-person shooters on consoles or computers. Gameloft's military shooter series seems content to mimic the immensely popular Call of Duty series from other platforms -- and Zero Hour boasts some serious parallels with this year's Black Ops II -- but despite its lack of ambition, the franchise delivers a big and entertaining mobile shooter at a fraction of the cost. And Zero Hour really does improve on the formula in small, but meaningful ways.