Free to play games seem to be popping up everywhere, some seem really great, and others let their reliance on micro-transactions drag them under the water line. While originally offered for a mere $.99, developer MADFINGER Games felt obliged to give it away on the Google Play Store because of rampant piracy of the game. Oh sure, you can play Dead Trigger for free, but it’s not long before the game bares its teeth.
In Dead Trigger, a first-person shooter, you play as a survivor of a plague/zombie incursion/plague-lead-to-the-zombie-incursion thing. Scrounging for ammo and bandages, your job is to do missions for New Hope in hopes to… I don’t know, the game’s narrative isn’t great. Starting out with a hefty assault rifle and a pistol, you’re tossed some easy-peasy tutorial missions before the game takes away all your toys and forces you to buy them back, either figuratively or literally. You control the character with two freely-placed touch sticks, which can be slightly annoying since the right stick/lookview doesn’t enjoy a dedicated space, leaving you to accidentally trample on the gun controls often. The zombies are paced well enough for your controls to compensate for, but some strategy on your part is still required. You’ll get points for placing your shots better and there are an array of deployables you can use to fend off the zombie horde when the guns just won’t do it.
The missions are mercifully bite-sized adventures, and have you either killing all the zombies in a level, defending a point, or retrieving boxes from arriving helicopters. The main quest line advances the story, but you’ll find yourself in many of the randomly generated missions just so you can earn enough cash to buy your next piece of gear. Optimized for nvidia’s graphics chips (although it ran just fine on my PowerVR-equipped Galaxy Nexus), the game is definitely a looker with framerates only stuttering on loads and keeping silky smooth throughout. The levels aren’t large, but they offer more variation than, say, Dead Space’s did. The interface is also polished and functional, but there are spelling errors abound.
When racking up zombie kills by pea shooter gets old, you can enlist more powerful weapons… for the aforementioned price. Sure, a dollar will net you 200 gold, which will comfortably afford you a few of the items in the game, and that’s certainly where the rabbit hole begins, but where does it end? Sure you’re buying guns now, but what’s stopping you from just spending a few dollars more and maxing out your character? And really, should I have to literally buy back the gun you introduced me with? (Yes, I’m familiar with the metaphor with how drug dealers work.) Admittedly, the offer is pretty tempting, but the game isn’t very interested in seasoning the deal by meting out anything more than a handful of gold a day. You could be sitting there for weeks before some cool gear came your way.
I suppose if you’re quick to the credit card, Dead Trigger would score higher, but on its own as a super-refined Carny trap, it’s a bit of a bloody drag.