App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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When a lone semi-emotionless man takes on legions of undead in an apocalyptic wasteland, is he ever not a complete and total badass? Yeah, no. Never. No matter the antihero’s apparent age or ailment, he’s always more of an unstoppable force of nature than a mere mortal man. The same holds true for Sir Death’s middle-aged protagonist. He might have some gray and walk with a slight limp, but once the action starts he becomes a blur of limbs and firearms. It’s a shame, then, that he can feel so inadequate against certain creatures on a fairly regular basis.
What little story there is behind Sir Death can easily be pieced together through the mostly-wordless comic book panels that bookend various sections. In essence, some guy with sunglasses murders zombies hardcore and occasionally rescues young girls from diabolical scientists. Of course the story (and the horrible translation) aren’t the main focus. That honor goes to the completely over-the-top action, which is broken down into five essential components: movement, ranged attacks, melee, shotgun, and machinegun. It sounds weird but it breaks down to running, gunning, fighting, and pulling out some limited-use heavy ordinance when needed.
Despite only using four buttons and movement arrows, combat in Sir Death is surprisingly fluid. Various taps and holds will trigger different combos, and gold earned in each level can upgrade their complexity and effectiveness. On paper, it sounds neat. In motion, it looks absolutely glorious. Trust me when I say that screen shots don’t do the action justice. If someone really wants to appreciate the visuals, video is the way to do it.
Of course, using a combo system that relies on so few buttons can lead to some input issues. Sometimes triggering the intended moves can be a bit tough but it works well overall, and even the wrong attacks can still be quite effective. The real problem I keep running into is the balance. Specifically, some enemies (especially bosses) have this tendency to become Nigh Unto a God when they attack. What this means is that certain encounters become less a graceful ballet of bullets and beat downs, and more a clumsy game of Get Tossed Around Like a Potato Sack. It’s about as much fun as it sounds, which is a shame given how much actual fun the rest of the game is.
It’s possible to push past these bottlenecks with enough stubbornness (and gold), but it can be a real trial-by-patience. That’s not to say it isn’t worth doing as Sir Death is incredibly awesome and fun when it’s not tossing players to the wolves.