By Dan Zuccarelli . September 11, 2007 . 2:09pm
Ugh, even I've got admit that title's joke is lame. But it's late and I just can't help myself. I'm all punchy from those Halo-inspired Slurpees I've been downing for the past few hours. But enough about my personal vices, we're here to talk severed heads!
Not mine, and not yours either (not this time). Nah, I'm talking about poor Fred, star of the new game from D3 Publisher "Dead Head Fred." Once a private investigator now a dude with no noggin, on account of the "talking-to" he got from some creepy crime boss. Luckily for good 'ol Fred some even creepier doctor brought Fred back to life and putting a jar with his brain and eyes where he head oughta be.
Sounds rough, but now Fred can swap out heads and get different abilities. It sounds silly, but it makes for a fun gameplay mechanic. The ability to switch heads like some games let you switch guns it certainly different, and the head's abilities are different enough that you'll use them all.
The game seems heavily inspired by classic horror movies in both style and acting. The voices are campy and over the top, but fit the genre perfectly. Fred himself is played by John C. McGinley, better known as Dr. Cox from the TV show "Scrubs." He's done a great job here and has enough personality to carry the way-out-there premise. For instance, when we first see Fred he's looking into a mirror and when he's sees his head in a jar exclaims "WHAT…THE… FU*K!" It may not sound like much but the guy does a great job carrying it. Rest assured, this one isn't rated 'E'.
The environment likewise seems plucked right out of "Nightmare Before Christmas" and it's Halloweentown. It's cool, and it works… though it's nothing we haven't seen before.
So how is the game itself? Sadly, it's not perfect. The fighting system is a tad clumsy. The problem arises with the 2 attack buttons, which you use in a normal combo style fight system. Problem is one of those buttons also jumps, so if you hit the "attack" button but it's not during a combo… you'll jump. It's frustrating, and after some time you get used to it, but it shouldn't have been like that in the 3rd place.
The storyline is serviceable but doesn't blaze any new territory. Get revenge on the guys that did you wrong. It may not be deep, but it's enough to get you playing. There's some light upgrading of your heads to gain some new abilities, and missions you'll undertake on your way to claim revenge on the weirdos that killed you.
The voice acting and style keep bringing me back, and over time I've grown accustomed to the so-so fighting style. Not perfect, but if you're a fan of the genre is worth checking out.