Dead Second

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Dead Second review
William Thompson


Aim and shoot

Not so secret agent

When I was much younger, my friends and I would often spend time down at the local fun centre during our school holidays. They had air hockey, pool, and an indoor go-kart track, but our go-to was the laser tag. We’d team up and take on anyone who was playing at the time. In the semi-darkness, it felt like we were a team of Navy Seals infiltrating an enemy base as we moved through the maze-like structure. Dead Second gives me a similar feeling, albeit in a pure single player mode, as you make your way through the series of missions.

Dead Second is a single player VR shooter that has players taking on the role of a Gun for Hire as you take down terrorists and evil doers across the city. The game is split into several missions, known as Assignments. In the game’s current form there are six, but the developers have indicated that they are working on more to add into the game.

At this point in development, Dead Second is accessible for both novices and more advanced gamers alike. With each of the six missions offering three difficulty settings, it enables players from each end of the spectrum to play. Having said that, each difficulty can only be activated once the lower level has been completed first. This does allow players to get a feel for each level before moving to the higher difficulty setting.

Simple and fun

The controls are wonderfully simple. Players move through the several playable sections of each mission using a teleporting style of movement. Players basically select from a number of options for where to move, and then take on the bad guys from that position. Moving from cover to cover makes the game feel stealthy, but as soon as you open fire, enemies are alerted to your presence, and will hunt for you in your current location. The cover system works remarkably well though, allowing players to position themselves in a way that they can sneak a peek around corners or over fences at what lays ahead. Not only that, but they can then aim above or around the cover position and take shots (albeit rather randomly) at their foes.

Shooting is simply a matter of aim and pressing the triggers on the Quest controllers. With no reticule, it can take a couple of shots to get your bearings when it comes to aiming at a target. With a semi destructible environment such as smashing glass and walls that can be filled with bullet holes, it is quite easy to tell where your bullets have landed. Once your clip is empty, simply aiming your weapon of choice towards the floor fills the clip, allowing you to continue picking off enemies.

Aim for the head

During the course of the assignments, players score points for shooting enemies and taking them down. Bonus points are awarded for headshots and chains of kills. Using the environment can also gain bonuses, with strategically placed explosive barrels a way to make light work of any enemies that wander too close as you fire a well-placed bullet into the barrel. Also reflecting shots off certain surfaces will also create a Rebound kill, giving you a slight bonus. Furthermore, killing an enemy will temporarily activate a bullet-time mode, giving players the chance to dodge bullets in slow motion – making you feel like Neo from the Matrix.

Players can work through the levels at their own speed but completing the missions in a quicker time gives players a higher bonus score, and with it a larger payout. Players can then spend their cash by purchasing a range of weapons. Each have different clip sizes, rates of fire and damage, and it is enjoyable to test them in each of the different scenarios.

Smoking barrels

Visually, the 3D environments are reasonably varied for each location. You will take on terrorists in narrow alleyways, on construction sites and even in underground lairs. There aren’t a heap of textures on buildings, and as such the game feels arcade-y and characters somewhat cartoonish, but this is in line with the fun nature of the gameplay. In a way it feels like you’re playing a 360 degree version of the classic arcade game Time Crisis or a slightly improved version of GoldenEye 007 – complete with smoking barrels after you fire off a few rounds.

Dead Second may only be in Early Access at this point, but that hasn’t prevented me from being thoroughly entertained. There is little in the way of a storyline, but each mission makes you feel like a 1980’s action hero as you take on groups of bad guys with nothing but three lives, a single gun and unlimited ammo. And although there are currently only the six Assignments, the goal of completing them all on the hardest difficulty keeps you playing. Collecting your set of weapons and moving your way up the leaderboard also gives players added incentive to replay each mission multiple times. I’m looking forward to checking out more levels as they are added, but feel that Dead Second could become a VR classic.

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fun score


Simple VR controls, fun action


Missions can get repetitive – need more variety in enemies