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iPhone  header logo

Dead Panic

For: iPhone

Not to be mistaken for Dead Picnic

Product: Dead Panic | Developer: Sean Maher | Format: iPhone | Genre: Strategy | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
Dead Panic iPhone, thumbnail 1
The next time you look to update your investment portfolio you might want to sink a bit of cash into the slavering undead, because if the recent proliferation of iPhone titles showcasing ravenous, brain-eating corpses is anything to go by, zombies are big business.

Dead Panic is yet another game to add to the ever-increasing horde, but instead of breaking down into a frenzy at the sight of the undead, this opts for a far more cerebral experience.

You’re in control of a squad of soldiers attempting to extricate themselves from the hellish nightmare that is your typical zombie apocalypse. Before you get notions of running rings around the shambling flesh-eaters, it’s worth noting that your troops are rooted to the spot and can only change the direction of their aim.

Your forces are automatically positioned for early missions, but as the game progresses you get to decide where best to place each individual unit. This is where Dead Panic becomes increasingly more challenging as incorrect deployment can cost you dearly when the floodgates open and the hideous, reanimated masses pour forth.

In this respect, Dead Panic shares more similarities with tower defence titles rather than fast-paced shooters, but that’s not to say the action is any more sedate.

Some of the later levels are pretty taxing as swathes of drooling monsters attack from every direction. Since your soldier’s standard-issue rifle takes a few seconds to rip through an approaching zombie, you have to manage their aim carefully and accurately.

Each soldier has a forward-facing targeting arc. Any undesirable creatures that happen to stray into this zone will automatically be fired upon. The game quickly becomes a matter of manipulating each soldier’s targeting arc so they can deal with oncoming threats.

By considering the layout of each level, as well as the placement of obstacles, you can predict with a fair degree of certainty the route each zombie will take as it shuffles menacingly towards its ultimate goal - namely the soft, delicious brainmeat contained within the helmets of your plucky troops.

Each wave is timed deliberately to test your planning skills and the speed of your index finger. Sometimes you find one soldier assailed by several monsters at once, in which case you move quickly to provide additional firepower by switching the targeting of nearby allies.

The biggest problem with Dead Panic is the controls: changing the aim of each trooper can sometimes be frustratingly awkward. When you’re in the middle of a massive firefight with your soldiers being bitten and chomped from every direction, the last thing you want is to select the wrong unit.

The difference between success and failure can literally be a few seconds and fumbling with the controls will almost always result in all your hard work going down the pan.

This happens all too frequently, as tapping a targeting arc automatically gives you control of the soldier to which it belongs. If the arc happens to fall over another unit, then selecting said unit is unnecessarily difficult.

Still, such annoyances can’t entirely ruin it’s appeal. There are brains behind Dead Panic, though clearing out the flaws so it join the horde of exemplary zombie games is going to require some heavy lifting.
Dead Panic
Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran | 4 September 2009
A neat take on tower defence, Dead Panic is unquestionably impressive when you consider it’s the work of just one man, but sadly it’s undone by irksome controls
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