Chillingo’s Dracula – Undead Awakening has already topped the charts as an iPod game and proved to be very popular, and now this excellent minis version, developed by Abstraction Games, looks set to make similar waves.
Running at an incredible 60 frames-per-second at all times, it’s an unbelievably slick and polished slice of gothic mass slaughter. Even if non-stop action games are far from your cup of tea, you can’t help but admire the sheer OTT carnage of it all.
From the moment you load up the game and check out the gothic gloom of the menu screen, accompanied by the suitably eerie music, you know you’re seeing something a bit special that really shows off what an amazing little handheld the PSP is.
The location/level select screen is equally impressive. Here you use the L and R buttons to scroll through the locations and gameplay modes respectively.
There are three locations to choose from in all: Castle Hall, Grave Park and Frozen Earth. All look fantastic, especially the crisp white snow-scape of Frozen Earth. Grave Park and Frozen Earth have similar enemies, mainly hairy rabid werewolves, but the candle-lit blood-red glow of Castle Hall houses a different selection of fiends in the bony shape of endless armies of skeletons.
The four game modes that you can choose from are Survival, Super Survival, Rush and Wave Attack. What you have to do in each isn’t spelled out for you, but you’ll pretty much pick it up as you go along. With you taking on the role of vampire and monster killer, all you really have to do is keep on killing until you can’t kill any more ‘cause you’ve been killed yourself!
Survival mode is simply about how long you can last, and by how much you can you extend your high score. Super Survival just seems to be more of the same with even more power-ups. You start off with the humblest of all weapons, the pistol, and progress all the way up through the rifle and crossbow to the mighty grenade launcher and BFG.
In case you’re wondering where Dracula comes into all this, and why is he just sitting back and letting all his minions do his dirty work, well he actually pops up in Survival mode if you’re doing really well. If you kill him, using the traditional methods of crossbow or fire, you get an Omen. Collect ten of these to move up to the next rank.
Another useful aspect of Survival mode is the Perks system. When you see ‘Perk Ready’ in the top right of the screen, you can press Select to choose from one of four Perks. These will be different every time, and range from Sniper, which extends the range of your guns, to Death Dice where if you throw a 1 you die instantly.
The Perks system adds a little bit of variety and strategy to the fairly one-dimensional gameplay, and choosing your Perk wisely can really help when you’re on your last legs.
In Rush mode, you don’t have to wait to get your hands on the big guns, as right from the start you can pick one of three of the deadliest weapons in the game – the flamethrower, saw, or machine gun. There’s a catch though, as you’ll need all the firepower you can just to keep the ravening hordes at bay as they come after you from all angles in a non-stop bloodthirsty surge.
Wave Attack is possibly the one mode where you actually get a bit of a breather. Monsters come at you in waves, but after you’ve dealt with each wave (and picked up piles of gold for doing so) you get to relax and spend money in the shop on items such as weapons and health upgrades.
As far as the actual gameplay goes, you have two control methods to choose from. You can either use the triangle, X, square and O buttons to aim and shoot, and the analog stick or directional buttons to move, or use the analog stick or directional buttons to aim and shoot and the triangle, X, square and O buttons to move. Both methods seem a little strange at first, but they’re easy to get used to.
To sum up, Dracula – Undead Awakening is a beautifully made game and loads of fun to play if non-stop killing action is your thing. That’s not to say that the game will be to everyone’s taste, of course. For some, the fact that you’re basically just dispatching wave after wave of creatures will be a complete turn off, no matter how pretty the game looks. If all-out shoot ‘em up action with some suitably meaty weaponry is what you crave, however, then don’t hesitate to snap this mini up.