One thing that isn't exciting is the combat system. Even though this is a straight forward adventure game full of mystery and intrigue, there's also a ton of fighting. Unfortunately this is the one thing that Dead Head Fred doesn't get right. It's not that the combat is so bad that you'll loathe getting into fights, but it's definitely chaotic enough to make you wish somebody would have done something about it before the game shipped to retailers. Part of the problem is the camera, which gets in the way more than it helps when it comes to the fist fights. But the larger problem comes in the button layout. How it works is this, you have a standard attack button that you can use to start a combo, from there you're supposed to push the "X" button to perform a follow-up attack. The problem with this set-up is that the "X" button also doubles for the jump button, so from time to time you'll accidentally jump into an even bigger battle when all you're trying to do is land a combo. Another issue is the aggressiveness of the enemy opponents, it's common to get hit numerous times because you weren't able to block fast enough. If you take the enemies on one-on-one you will stand a good chance of winning the fight, but often the game will throw three or more enemies at you at once ... and at that point you might as well retreat or give up.
The good news is that the different heads will make combat a bit easier, but no matter what head you have equipped you're still at the mercy of an awkward fighting system. While I complain about how disjointed and tedious the combat is, it's worth reiterating that this one problem does not bring the rest of the game down. The fact that I can wholeheartedly recommend this adventure game even with this one glaring problem is a testament to how good the final product is. Dead Head Fred is an excellent game, even if the combat does suck.
The reason this game resonates so much is because of how deep the actual game is. It's not just that the main quest will take you all over the place (including the backwoods, the middle of downtown, a nuclear power plant to, a run-down creepy area called Zombie Town, a Tiki-filled Casino, etc.), but how much other stuff there is to do along the way. At times it seems that just about everybody you run into has a different quest for you, so actually solving every single mission in the game could take you dozens of hours. If that wasn't enough, you can also waste some time playing pool and pinball.
What holds all this together is a hilarious script and memorable characters. Pretty much everybody in the game is a crazy character that fits in perfectly in a game that is about a guy who is resurrected without a head. These characters are complimented by strong voice talent that brings the whole thing to life. While some of the dialog is cheesy, it never feels unnatural or forced ... which is not something you can say about a lot of games. Better still, the game is genuinely funny. There's just something about the predicament that these characters find themselves in that leads to comedy gold, and we're clearly dealing with witty writers that know how to bring the whole thing to life.
Along with the fantastic audio, the graphics are also quite strong. The character models are large and full of detail. While one could complain that some of the movements are a bit stiff, this minor gripe is never that big of a deal. Even better than the characters are the backgrounds, which will not disappoint. Every part of the world has a unique look to it and the atmosphere is also creepy (but not so creepy that it takes away from the over-the-top feel of the game). All it takes is one look at this game and you can see where all the time went, the world is simply gorgeous.
Dead Head Fred is a fantastic adventure game full of memorable characters and ingenious puzzles. If you're the type of person who likes to do and see everything then you'll be at this game for weeks. And even if you don't care about all of the extra content the developers stuffed into this $30 PSP game you'll still find an interesting story full of twists and turns. While the game does stumble a little bit when it comes to the combat system, Dead Head Fred more than makes up for it with a solid presentation and a real sense of humor. If you're looking for a 3D adventure game that will keep you entertained for dozens of hours, then you can't go wrong with Dead Head Fred for the PSP.
D3 is just surprising us left and right this year. Dead Head Fred is a solid adventure game full of great voice acting, an intriguing mystery and a world you won't want to leave. Don't let this video game gem pass you by as you rush toward all of the high profile games coming out this holiday season!
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