Leading a rag-tag squad of survivors against the undead horde that are encroaching with every minute, leaves gamers in a spin as you try to endure the might of the waves of flesh eaters all itching to get a taste of your juicy innards. Trapped Dead is the latest title from developer Headup Games that comes under the close scrutiny of the GamesMediaPro review team. Stay with us as we take you on a daring dash between grasping fetid fingers and the tearing broken teeth of zombies all baying for your blood in the full review of Iceberg Interactive’s nightmare of undead horrors.
Based loosely on those horror movies that we all grew up on and loved so much, Trapped Dead is the dark and twisted tale of a small rural community as it undergoes the flash point of an invasion by an army of the undead. We pick up the story as we join two typical American teenagers driving cross-country and enjoying the sights and sounds of mid-America. But for an oversight by one, or both, of our adventurous couple they might never had been forced off the road and into the dusty forecourt of a ‘Last Chance Gas’ filling station. From here things just take on the worst case scenario imaginable for our pair of hapless teen’s.
The story is relayed in a cartoon styled overlay that allows dialogue to inform you of the events leading up to the situation, as well as keeping gamers abreast of all the current happenings and objectives. It works very well as when you actually get involved in the gameplay, you will soon discover that this is no ordinary ‘run and gun’ type title that just has you shooting your way through chapters, in the form of one multiplayer map tenuously strung together by limited voice acting and dialogue, as with a myriad of other zombie games on the market. Instead you get to focus your attention in far more of an RTS styled format with the entire playing area being available to you from the onset of the game. This allows you plan your strategies and necessary tactic’s well in advance of the multitude of shuffling zombies that will soon be coming at you from all directions, and all with the same murderous intent of relieving you of the burden of your existence.
You will pick up a further two characters along the way, but you are not limited to just the four first people you come across, as there will be plenty of opportunities to build on your party as the game gets in full swing. Although you may only play as four of the chosen individuals at any one time, we do feel that this was the perfect number as any more would have been too complicated, and any less would not have been enough to deal out enough retribution to the masses of flesh eaters all bearing down on your location.
The graphics are well presented and feature heavily those familiar features and locations that we have come to expect in a game of this ilk, as we take control of our team of urban survivors in such environments as the highly recognisable Mall, Gun Shop and Hospital to name but a few. Of particular note has to be the Prison level where the barred location can offer up some wonderful protection as you set up your defences and positions, however they can also be a double-edged sword with the blade most definitely cutting both way’s if the waves upon waves of nightmarish creatures get you with your backs to the wall and with nowhere for you to turn to make good your escape.
The scenery is lush and immensely expansive, with good detail and the renders and textures being very easy on the eye, which all adds up to making the mood and atmosphere of the game even more engrossing as you get deeper embroiled into the game’s plot and frenetic gameplay. Sound effects are put to particularly good use, as the noises that you hear during fight sequences are gruesome to say the least. Weapons are nicely balanced and very well represented, making for no mishaps with underpowered pop guns in your time of need.
Each location that you make it to has just enough ammo, and allows you just enough time to rest and recuperate before preparing for the next onslaught of zombies. So forget about Left 4 Dead styled ammo littering the ground as there are no magical ammo boxes left lying around by the local National Guard troopers as the passed through on their way to some nondescript military manoeuvre. This is Trapped Dead, dear GmP readers, and that means that the sleepy Mid-West town of Hedge Hills is constructed as a real town would be, and that’s bad news for our band of heroes as they seek refuge in its buildings and streets, but good news for the masses of undead that stalk their progress at every turn.
In this respect the game is a far tougher prospect than other titles in its genre, players must think hard on the decisions that they will make in the run up to the forthcoming battle with the ‘brain munchers’. Not only do you have the added anxiety of having to make every round count for fear of getting that dreaded ‘Dead Mans Click’ at the crucial moment when one of the ghoulish creatures is reaching for your face with his cold dead hands, but you must also decide on defensive positions, as well as making the tough choice of which members of your team you will take with you, and which are best suited to the coming combat, as if just one member of your party fall’s prey to the fiendish intents of your pursuers then you will have to start from the last checkpoint. Even though one member of the team may, at times, be allowed to visit a health station, and each member has the ability to use health pack’s to stem the bloody wounds of their companions, something which we urge you all to do at the earliest possible opportunity for fear of the scrabbling zombie’s getting the scent of your injured party member’s blood and bringing the horde running in a frenzied blood lust dash for the source of their aromatic pheromone, Trapped Dead is the thinking man’s zombie title. There is no method of revival here, just out-and-out man versus zombie combat in which there can only ever be one winner!
You must prepare well for all future assaults on your position by the night crawlers, as failure to do so will inevitably lead to the extinction of your team. But, in a nice touch by the developers, Headup Games have allowed players to pause the action and issue commands to their party via the HUD interface. It is a form of ‘lifeline’ that will see gamers giving last-ditch orders to their fellow survivors in the heat of battle, but it is also the opportunity to have a moments quiet respite during the manic fighting that will have you gasping for breath at the non-stop onslaught by your undead attackers.
The games solo campaign is not hampered in any way by the AI, and if anything our teammates were pretty much able to hold their own against the zombies. That being said there is another startlingly brilliant addition to the game, that being the Co-oP Mode. What the developers have managed to achieve with the online function, as well as in the Co-oP Mode, makes Trapped Dead a cracking proposition for all those gamers out there who like nothing more than a good challenge, where the action is relentless and the enemies insatiable. Having the benefit of three other human’s filling in the roles of the other party members makes for a mouth-watering prospect, and one that the review team here at GamesMediaPro jumped into with relish, as we stood shoulder to shoulder and back-to-back against the massed hordes of the Undead Nation. The fun is there for the taking with Trapped Dead, and the sheer entertainment value of the solo campaign, or the Co-oP and online modes, should have gamers logging onto their Iceberg accounts as we speak.
So all in all a lot for gamers to think about then with Trapped Dead. Iceberg Interactive and Headup Games have given players a cracking title that incorporates a fresh new approach to what had frankly become a staid and hum-drum genre, particularly when you consider some of the other games that are in Trapped Dead’s weight class. The interface and menu work extremely well, and the gameplay is as exciting as it is different. Co-oP and the four player online will have gamers enjoying the title for many a day to come, and the promise of expansions and add-on’s may well ensure a second outing for this truly entertaining survival/horror title. Hopefully there may even be a console version that allows gamers right across the board to enjoy Headup Games’ corking zombie thriller.
Graphics: Great locations and familiar settings all constructed with flawless renders and textures so smooth that if this was the 1970’s they would be hanging out in Monte Carlo, sporting a chest wig like a small rain forest and going by the name ‘Garth’. The game never once suffers any frame rate drop, nor does it have any screen tearing issues in the middle of combat to send your eyes flickering around in circles like a disco mirror ball. Trapped Dead looks sublime and has the perfect settings of light and dark to give the game even more atmosphere to keep those goosebumps coming. 8
Gameplay: Breaking away from the standard fare that has almost become ‘the law’ as far as zombie games are concerned, was never going to be an easy thing but Headup Games have pulled it off beautifully. The RTS approach, to what normally would have been nothing more than running from one location to the next, gives far more depth and meaning to the gameplay as players get to make life or death decisions that affect everything they do in the game. Easy to handle controls, using the mouse to look and shoot and the keyboard to move, are simple and uncluttered and even a novice PC gamer would have no trouble jumping headlong into the excellent action that is on offer. 8
RePlay Value: Because you have around 7 characters to collect you are always then able to return to the solo campaign to try to beat the game with different party members taking on different tasks. With an excellent online and Co-oP backing up the already impressive single player mode Trapped Dead has more bite than the usual zombie title and will be played long into the wee hours by many a gamer. 8
Presentation: As far as videogames go whats not to like? Trapped Dead has everything that we love about gaming all rolled into one package, and then some. Great gameplay combined with some first-rate online action make for a truly enjoyable experience, and the Co-oP Mode only serves to put the icing on the zombie cake as far as we are concerned. Hordes of undead brain-suckers, guns, traps, guns, online, guns, co-op action, guns and did we forget to mention the guns? The action is top drawer and the amount of scope you have to make decisions that truly affect the gameplay is outstanding. This is a must have for any fans of the zombie shooter game. 8