Wanted Dead - Review - Xbox
Developed by some of the makers of Dead or Alive, Ninja Gaiden and described as a love letter to games of the sixth generation of consoles (Dreamcast, PS2, Nintendo Gamecube and Xbox) - Wanted: Dead immediately had my attention when it was announced. Now it's finally here and I get to experience it will It be a zombie slaying fun time or a sad zombie dinner? The story in Wanted: Dead very much feels like an afterthought that isn't too important. . The game follows a week in life of the Zombie Unit, an elite Hong Kong police squad on a mission to uncover a major corporate conspiracy. You play as Lt. Hannah Stone, a hardboiled Hong Kong cop, and plow through mercenaries, gang members and private military contractors in what is described as a spectacular cyberpunk adventure. At times the story literally makes no sense, but there are some cool anime cutscene flashbacks that you get to watch so that's something. It feels as if the game was designed with no story bar "zombies" and then when it was finished, just before release they slapped something quickly together with the help of the sea manatees from South Park.
The hack-n-slash melee combat and third-person shooter combo make up the main bulk of the gameplay. With a variety of moves and over 50 unique finishers you can use on your foes. Shooting wise you will get to use a variety of weapons like assault rifles, SMGs and LMGs all mixed with a cyberpunk/lo-tech 90s retro futurism style advanced weaponry. The game really pushes you more into the melee side of combat, favouring you getting in close over relying on firearms. The combat is exceptionally hard though. This game is punishing in its difficulty and you will find yourself dying and having to replay large sections of the game (thanks terrible checkpoint system) many. many times. Modern gamers will probably hate this style of difficulty but players of more retro games will probably thrive. It is a shame you only get the one melee weapon throughout the entire game, I would have loved to have had more variety in what I was using to cut my way through enemies. But let's not get too hung up on just the combat, there are also minigames too! Between missions you will be able to play a variety of games from a crane like arcade machine to singing karaoke! There are a few others as well and all of them are weird and a ton of fun to play. It's a good job these minigames are there as otherwise there would be even less content, as the game only has a total of five levels (yes you read that right).
Wanted Dead is a serious mixed bag when it comes to presentation. At time the models and environments look good, then at other times they look very bland and generic as if taken from an unreal asset store. It's a shame as it really makes the environments unmemorable. Now the audio side is a different matter, its music and background tracks are awesome and really fit in with the style of the gameplay. The voice acting is absolutely awful though, with this being a contender for the worst VA of 2023. It doesn't even get to the so bad its good style of awful either. Performance wise, when I played at launch the game suffered from major slowdown/stuttering issues. This was a real gamebreaker but luckily a patch was released which reduced the amount that these issues would occur. It's still not perfect, but it's much better than it was at launch. Hopefully more patches will follow to really get the performance under control.
You have to give credit to Wanted: Dead, it does what it sets out to do in being a love letter to those weird and wonderful sixth generation of video games. Unfortunately this becomes a double edged sword with all the jank of old you have long forgotten about having to suffer in video games being brought back to light like a bad case of PTSD. I would highly recommend you play this game, it's weirdness and old school feel are fun to experience despite the issues but I cannot recommend you buy this game at its current price. The game is £50 but really you're getting a £25 experience. Grab it in a sale, or just go to a charity shop and buy a PS2 action game for 50p and get a similar experience. TOTAL SCORE: 6/10
Wanted: Dead was released on the 14th February 2023 (yes Valentines Day) on the Xbox Store. It's playable on Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S consoles as well as being released on PC and other systems. The game is priced at £49.99 and can be purchased HERE. A copy of the game was provided for this review. A big thanks for that.