“Golly, that’s a lot of blood.” Such was the phrase I uttered (complete with 1900s parlance) the first time I took a wrench to one of Trapped Dead: Lockdown’s shambling zombies and saw the surrounding area become awash in a sea of crimson. But while this dungeon-crawling splatterfest has enough gore to make you peckish for a raspberry tart, is there enough game to back it up?
You begin by choosing from one of five characters: Marine, Butcher, Priest, Marshal and Assassin. Each has certain skills and weapon restrictions that gear them toward a certain play style. For example, the Assassin relies on stealth and agility to get the upper hand on enemies before the fight has even begun. The beefy Marine is more of an all-round choice with a defensive focus, but despite this he’s still quite fragile.
The plot is about as B movie as it gets; you’re in a place with zombies, and you need to kill a lot of them until you’re in a place where there aren’t zombies. While the undead are commonplace enough in pop culture that they don’t really require an explanation any more, it would be nice if any of the characters at least questioned their existence in the opening scenes.
Each playable character has someone they need to find – the Marine’s wife, the Butcher’s daughter, the Assassin’s target – which drives their progress forward. It’s a fairly thin motivation, however, mostly just pushing you from one area to the next. At one point the game almost makes you ask yourself to what lengths you’d go to achieve your goal, by freeing a demented serial killer from prison to get you into a new area. But no, there are no moral dilemmas here, and no choices to make beyond how best to turn the undead into the very dead.
The controls are very simple, with the mouse buttons used both for attacks and movement, and skills and healing mapped to numbers 1–5. While functional enough, combat would be far more manageable if you could move with WASD, so you could keep the mouse trained on your enemies while you reposition for your next strike. There’s some strategy involved in picking weapons and assigning skills to them, but this has a few issues.
Any time you change weapons, the skill you assigned to it will deactivate, even if the replacement weapon was of the same type. This is especially troubling when a weapon breaks mid-fight, as you will revert to a melee attack with no accompanying skill, regardless of whether you have learned any unarmed moves. As the game doesn’t pause when accessing menus, you can’t afford to assign skills or equip another weapon while zombies claw at your flesh. Because of this, the skill dropping is more than inconvenient; it’s downright hazardous.
The driving sections are also a bit of a mixed bag. At first, it’s pure glee to mow down scores of zombies in a stolen police car, but this very quickly becomes tedious as you struggle to find unmarked main objectives in a largely featureless neighbourhood. This section could have been so much more fun if it just had objective markers to keep up the pace, or at the very least a full map so you could get your head around the street layout.
The biggest plus for Trapped Dead: Lockdown is its four player online co-op, and you can tell that this was how it was intended to be played. When going up against bosses, you need someone to pepper it with ranged attacks while it closes to melee range, or freeze a horde of zombie goons while you charge in to finish off the big bad. Going it solo is certainly possible, but a much hollower experience.
Overall, Trapped Dead: Lockdown feels a bit unfinished. The mechanics are solid, but with a little tweaking, they could have been much more than that. Even so, it serves as a good way to kick back with friends for some semi-mindless slaughter.