Zombies are everywhere these days.
They’re in movies, on the TV, hastily drawn in comics and even act as entertaining fodder in many videogames. While most media portray zombies as the enemy, however, with the only response to their advances being a blow to the skull, Dead Alliance gives you chance to use them and make them your ally. It’s an original idea that works rather well, but unfortunately it’s enveloped in a package that feels lacking and very rough around the edges.
Primarily a team-based online first-person shooter, Dead Alliance invites you to engage in the usual slew of match types including Team Death Match, Capture the Flag, King of the Hill and Free for All. While getting an angle on the opposition and pumping them full of a few rounds from your pistol is a valid tactic, matters are made more complicated by the hordes of the walking dead who stand in your way.
It serves to liven up the gameplay rather well. Camping is made largely redundant, for example, as if you don’t pay attention to what’s happening around you at all times you’re likely to find yourself being munched on. And while shooting zombies that are blocking your path may seem like a good idea, it’s also likely to give your position away to the opposing team. The result is that matches are fast and frenetic, with players constantly on the move to avoid being eaten. Though those who are sly will find a myriad of ways to put the zombies to good use.
Dead Alliance’s key unique selling point is the ability to influence the undead to aid your cause. A whole host of items are available to use just for this very purpose, though you’ll only access the full range once you’ve put some time into the game and unlocked them to add to your loadout. P.A.M. grenades, for instance, frenzy zombies caught in their gassy blast, sending them running at nearby enemies. While L.R.A.D. devices emit a noise which draws zombies towards them, creating a handy meat shield when you find yourself under fire. Combine the two and you can create a pack of violent allies in an instant. Dead Alliance rewards quick-thinking and ingenuity, making each battle tense, exciting and unpredictable.
While the game is built on solid and original foundations, however, it falls short in many key areas. For a start, with only seven fairly small maps available, you soon get tired of fighting in the same environments. Until you sufficiently level up to be able to customise your loadout with decent zombie-herding devices, you can find yourself overwhelmed way to often without much in way of a defence as well. And finally, while the game does have single player features, they’re really not worth bothering with. Playing with A.I. bots isn’t much fun, and while the survival mode is enticing, the inability to bring your friends along for the ride makes the fun short-lived.
Presentation is lacking too, with menus that are just as lifeless as the zombies that inhabit the game. And the in-game visuals of the Xbox One version at least are murky and uninspiring. Even worse, performance isn’t particularly great either. You can have a lot of fun playing Dead Alliance, but as a package it just fails to totally impress. It feels like corners have been cut, which is a shame, because with a little spit and polish it could be a game that has legs due to its ingenious and original features.
So, despite its problems, if you’re a keen online gamer and haven’t grown tired of the zombie epidemic as of yet, Dead Alliance may be worth a shot. Just try to forgive its less than stellar presentation. Oh, and forget about the single player add-on; it’s really not worth your time or money.