Pros
*  High quality production
*  Great video quality
*  Easy to use interface with multiple control options
 
Cons
*  If FMV games aren’t your style, then give this a pass
*  Would like to have seen more opponents
*  No Intro
 
 
 
Console: iOS
Release Date:  July 18th, 2012
Review Date: July 13st,  2012
Reviewer: Jon
 
Let me start out by saying, I am pretty hardcore fan of retro Full-Motion Video (FMV) games.  In fact, my biggest hobby is to seek out these rare gems in an effort to add to my personal collection.  I realize that while my passion is shared with a few others, we are a rare breed.  Most of the time FMV titles consist of terrible gameplay and poor acting.  As sad as it may be, this appeals to me.  I am sure that B-Movie fans can understand the satisfaction of seeing some poor sap with a dumb haircut trying to battle a zombie with chair leg.   I suppose the love for this awkward period in gaming history hits the same nerve.  Given my addiction, once I published the announcement for the title Stay  Dead I just had to have it.  
      
 
Presentation: A
Graphics /Animation / Sound
 
I must admit, presentation for this title is actually pretty solid.  Sure the quality of the acting doesn’t scream academy award by any means, but overall the commitment from the actors really stands out.  What does it matter if the six-foot tall Nazi Zombie looks like he can barely move?  Who cares if the grappler you fight in the junkyard reminds me of Michael Clarke Duncan in the Daredevil film?  The important thing is the actors playing these characters have no shame and put everything on the table.  The Nazi Zombie rocks the latex makeup and puts up one hell of a fight.  
 
The video quality is extremely well done and looks great on the iPad.  The atmosphere that each fighter presents himself in fits perfectly and the game does a great job of making every scenario unique.  The stage/prop designers did an exceptional job and I would have loved to see a greater number of unique stages and opponents.
 
The soundtrack for this one doesn’t really change a whole lot.  However, I can’t say that aspect made any difference to me.  You may hear the same few tracks with every level, but they do manage to create a sense of tension and urgency with every match-up.  Repeated playthroughs could cause the soundtrack to get annoying, but with the lack of speech, the audio is really unnecessary anyway.
 
One complaint that I have with Stay Dead is the lack of an intro.  You are presented with a title screen much like the title picture used for this review.  Once start game is pressed you go straight into battle.  This doesn’t hinder the gameplay, but a kick ass intro would have been a great way to get the blood pumping. 
 
Single Player: A
Game Mechanics / Length / Difficulty
 
 The gameplay mechanic is the deciding factor with any FMV game, and I am glad to say that Stay Dead doesn’t fall short by any means.  The game features three distinct controls modes.  These consist of “Touch”, “One Hand Handheld”, and “Two Hands Handheld”.  I will start out with the “One Hand Handheld” since this is the mode that I used for my playthrough.  Unfortunately once a game is started for the first time you are forced to choose a control mode with little description of the differences between each. This choice may include simplistic diagrams above each control listing, but they do little clarify something that needs to be experienced to completely understand the differences between each mode.  Fortunately this is something that can changed very easily from the main menu, but upon my first entry into the title I was clueless on which mode to choose.  
 
With that out-of-the-way, I am very impressed with the execution of these modes and love the variety of each choice once I took the time to experiment with them.  So let’s get the actual gameplay….
 
You are first presented with a brief opponent introduction video immediately followed by a “looped” neutral video of the fighters standing off with one another.  While this video is “looped” that is a term I use loosely since you experience this sequence only in between rounds.  While the “neutral” video is played you are presented with a handful of options using an interface that is layered on top of the sequence.  Your choices at this point are “Defence”, “Attack”, or “Combo”.  You do have the option of adjusting your combo length each round, but a longer combo obviously comes with a greater difficulty of execution.  By pressing any one of these options, an appropriate attack or defense video starts to play.  The interaction doesn’t stop there since the rest of the attack must be played out in the form of touch based Quicktime events.  
 
Yeah, I know the term Quicktime event may turn a few people off but that’s really about the only way to pull of this style of game.  Thankfully this is done extremely well and attack sequences have some variation providing a pretty good challenge to each opponent.          
 
 
Each match-up has a unique energy level and set amount of rounds that you must defeat them in.  “Attack” rewards you with one hit point of damage done to the opponent if the sequence is finished correctly, while the “Combo” option can give you as much as four in some cases.  You are also able to do damage by choosing defense and performing a counter attack.  I found this option to really be unnecessary since it usually only does one point of damage, but contains a few more steps that the standard attack.  
 
If you are able to complete any one of these sequences you will deal the designated amount of damage to your opponent.  Failing to complete a sequence correctly will result in no damage done to the opponent and one round lost.  You do actually get a small amount of leadway if you miss a button during an attack.  The result being that you fail to land a blow and go on the defensive hoping to counter attack.  This can be really entertaining since the button sequence ends up getting pretty lengthy.  Watching the video of the attack in the background always seems to blend well with your actions giving the match a “back and forth” feeling to each fight.  
 
If you are able to bring your opponent down to zero health within the specified round limit than you win the fight and proceed to the next opponent.  Failing this task will result in a game over message and you will be returned to the title screen.  At first I was annoyed with this, but with only five opponents total it never got frustrating.  The best thing about losing is the ability to jump back in and battle your opponents in whichever order you choose.  So if there is a fighter you are having trouble with, you are able to go straight to him and knock him out first before you progress.  The round requirements get a little tough at times since on the first difficulty setting the final battle gives you six rounds to deal fifteen points of damage.  Yes, you heard me right I said the first difficulty setting.  Once you have beaten all five opponents, an extra hard difficulty is unlocked.  Prepare yourself for a greater challenge.
 
Briefly going back to the control options, you are left with two other choices.  “Touch” is essentially the same as “One Hand Handheld”, with the difference of all the wrong options being removed from each Quicktime Event.  This may sound too easy, but each button still has to be timed correctly and seems to come and go a lot quicker.  “The Two Hand Handheld” mode removes the cleverly designed interface of the previous two options and places classic arcade style buttons on-screen.  I found this option to be extremely difficult and only recommend this style for those wishing to master a new way to play the game.          
 
Multiplayer:  F
Game Mechanics / Features / Online Features
 
No multiplayer features
 
Replay Value: B
Lasting appeal / Bonus Content / DLC
 
This really depends on the individual.  If you are a FMV fan, you are most likely to keep this on your device and go through a few matches when the mood strikes.  With only five opponents, it doesn’t take long to progress through all of the matches.  I never seemed to mind replaying each fight since there is a fair amount of freedom when dictating the progression of each match.  There are still a few moves I can’t seem to nail consistently giving me the motivation to replay certain matches until I get them right.
 
For you Non-FMV enthusiasts out there, I don’t see Stay Dead having much of a long-term hold.  Once you progress through all the fights and multiple difficulties that is really all there is to game.  While the matches are entertaining, this really comes to solid FMV scenes sequenced together with Quicktime Events.  These elements tend to have very little lasting power with the majority of today’s gaming community.  
 
If you are even the slightest bit interesting in this title, I highly recommend giving it a try.  With a $2.99 price tag, extremely well done FMV sequences, and an interesting interface, Stay Dead brings a solid FMV experience to the iPad.  
 
Overall: B
 
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