Review :: (XBLA) Dead Block

Dead Block Needs More

Candygun Games stumbles out of the gate

Written by Super User

Published Friday, 15 July 2011 20:00

Write your own review !

Dead Block
Developer: Candygun Games
Publisher: Digital Reality, Hamburg, Germany
Release Date: July 6th, 2011
Platforms: XBLA (July 6/11), PSN (July 20/11), PC
Cost: 800 Microsoft points (XBLA), $10 (Playstation Network)
 

Dead Block is first game to be pushed out of the gate for brand new developer Candygun Games, made up of five men formerly of the now-defunct Replay Studios. It is a third-person zombie defense game set in an idyllic 1950’s neighbourhood. Presented as a campy television show, each level is a different "episode", and three playable characters are introduced as you progress through the game: the beefy, moustachioed construction worker; the slightly overweight Boy Scout (think Pixar’s Up); and the Pam Grier-inspired police officer.  You need to defend the building that you are stuck in by building wood barriers across windows and doorways, a la Call of Duty zombies, and by setting traps at the windows. Each character has a certain traps that are unique to them. The construction worker that you start with, for example, builds a freeze trap that crystalizes the zombies when they pass through a window, making for a one-smash kill with the worker’s hammer. Power-ups can be found throughout the levels, some giving your character invisibility or speedy kills.

As you progress through the rooms of the building, you need to smash furniture and shelves to get enough wood to build barriers, and you need to search items to find bolts, which allow you to build the window traps. Some doors require keys to pass, which you must search for as well. The player HUD shows where the zombies are at any given time. Zombies show up as red when they are inside the building, and grey when they are still outside. You need to find parts of a guitar and amp, all hidden in the building that you find yourself in. The level ends by your character playing the guitar, and in order to finish the level, a Guitar Hero-like track passes by the top of the screen, and you need to press the correct buttons that pass by. When you accomplish this, the zombies start to dance to the rock ’n’ roll, and the level ends. You are given a score based on the amount of furniture you destroy, objects you’ve searched, and the number of zombies you’ve eradicated. You’re also penalized if your character dies. 
       
Dead Block borrows ideas from a couple of popular games: the episodic television program level format is reminiscent of Alan Wake in terms of how they tell the story, and the zombie defense genre was popularized by Call of Duty: World at War. Everyone seems to be capitalizing on the zombie craze, and Dead Block is no different.

The game is very basic in its premise, and very familiar in today’s zombie-infested gaming world: defend yourself against a teeming zombie horde by using souped-up weapons and blocking windows with wooden planks. This certainly isn’t a bad thing, but it’s been done over and over again, with different results.  The game’s main characters and the cool soundtrack are the best features of the game. The characters are a cross between something you would find in a Pixar movie, and the class-based caricatures from Monday Night Combat. It’s fun to explore each character’s unique abilities and their respective zombie traps. However, while it’s fun to set the different kinds of zombie traps near the beginning of the game, it does get stale after a while. There is not a lot to keep most any gamer interested for more than half-hour spurts, and that might be stretching it, even while playing couch co-op with a friend. It’s not a long game by any means, but it may be difficult for some to get to the end, due to dwindling interest.   

I was asked by someone on my friends list whether or not I thought this game was good for kids. While the game’s cartoon-like characters are certainly child-friendly, and the violence is minimal, the game’s difficulty ramps up pretty quickly about three levels in, even on the easy difficulty. Having said that, zombies are still getting beaten to an exploding pulpy mess by shovels and hammers, so I won’t be exposing my young child to this game.     

While the cute visuals and great soundtrack are a compliment to the game, there isn’t quite enough to save this from being anything more than a middle-of-the-pack game that you might pick up on a rainy day because there’s nothing else to play. There isn’t a lot of substance here, and all in all, it’s mindless fun. But it’s definitely not 800 MSP ($10) worth of mindless fun, so wait until this one goes on sale.


Pros
-Fun characters -Cool soundtrack
Cons
-Stale gameplay -Overdone genre

Final rating
6.2 / 10
Comments
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Game details
(XBLA) Dead Block
Release date : 2011-07-06
Platform :
Publisher : Digital Reality
Developer : Candygun Games
Gameplay : Action

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