Review: Dredd vs Zombies
There's always a certain amount of trepidation whenever I see Judge Dredd in something other than 2000AD. The iconic British comic creation rarely makes the jump to other media while retaining the core aspects of the character. But then having Dredd on my smartphone was a temptation that I couldn't avoid. And I found a great game with very little 'grudd'.
Version Reviewed: 184.108.40.206
One thing that is missing is the political tones of the Dredd stories. By going with a 'Zombie Attack' storyline, the focus can be purely on violence and good gameplay. With splatterings of green blood, it's more acceptable ratings wise, and the focus can be on a good competitive game.
This does seem like a missed opportunity, but it does provide an attractive name for the title, which is important for online marketing and to capture people browsing the Windows Store.
One important thing to note here is that Dredd vs Zombies is a freemium title. The upgrades to your weapons, and the power-ups available for one 'game', are all measured in credits, and you can buy bumper packs of credits via Xbox Live and the in-app purchasing model. To be fair to the game, you also earn credits for completing levels and carrying out other tasks, and because the power-ups are aids to gameplay, rather than required to complete a level, you can play through for free, or buy up the goodies to make the title a little easier.
All I need is my Lawgiver and a badge. After all, I am 'The Law' here.
As a faux-3D shooter (the camera is fixed above the action, but looking down at an angle of around 65 degrees to give a 3D effect to a level mapped out in two dimensions), Dredd vs Zombies goes for a virtual stick under your left thumb, and a great big fire button under your right thumb. Targeting is automatic and you'll have perfect accuracy on whichever target is highlighted (come on, this is Dredd - of course he'll have phenomenal accuracy).
You can override this targeting by tapping on the screen on your desired target... and those explosive barrels of goo are very attractive if you want to take out a huge group of zombies standing close by.
I'm not a great fan of the virtual stick in general, and a poorly implemented stick has damaged many a good game, but I'm glad to say that I can get on with the stick in Dredd, so congrats to the coders behind this one. I also like that you can choose to have the stick in a fixed position on the screen, or have it centred on your thumb when you touch the screen so any slide to the right, will translate to moving to the right. I prefer the latter.
The graphics are really good. There is a solidity to the graphics that makes the levels feel futuristic and stark, fitting in with the world of Judge Dredd. It feels like the comic, while not feeling cartoonish. Most importantly, Dredd himself is a solid walking lump of justice, stomping around the levels with his lawgiver (or other weaponry, depending on what you choose), dealing with a variety of zombies.
There's one tiny bit of clipping when you die close to a wall that can look a bit awkward, but I'll forgive that because, well, you're not meant to die.
I'll not kid you, the difficulty curve if you are playing for free is pretty steep, but it's not unsurpassable. One zombie on its own is not a problem to deal with, but like every good zombie film, it's when they start piling up in greater and greater numbers to overwhelm you. Your weapons will need reloading, you'll be on the lookout constantly for more ammo, and if you're not careful you'll find far too many zombies between you and a health bonus, extra ammo, or a safe space to take a breather.
Dredd vs Zombies is a fantastic arcade game. It's hard in the style of the classic games of the nineties, it's well suited to mobile play, and the freemium model doesn't get in the way of playing the game. I'll even forgive the subtle advert for the DVD of the latest Dredd film in the corner of the main menu screen. This is the game to show off the platform, this is the one that shows gamers what Windows Phone 8 can do, and if Xbox Live had any sense, it would be in their collection as soon as possible.
And he keeps his helmet on.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at