Second Chance Heroes Review
Gauntlet, 'Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure' and Zombies Ate My Neighbors all collide in Second Chance Heroes. Just when you thought that slaying hordes of zombies had hit its creative threshold, Rocket City Studios has breathed life into its concept by throwing hordes of the undead (along with a variety of other monster types), against some of the most influential faces of history. Luckily, Second Chance Heroes does pretty good job of living up to its influences.
The main premise of Second Chance Heroes is that some of the most important leaders in history have been brought together to fight hordes of evil enemies. These characters include Abraham Lincoln, Napoleon, Queen Elizabeth the First (with a chaingun), Nikola Tesla, Joan of Arc, Julius Caesar, Blackbeard the Pirate, Cleopatra, Leonardo da Vinci, Genghis Khan and Montezuma. While this collection of famous faces is outstanding in its own right, the way that Second Chance Heroes brings them to life is just as impressive.
Second Chance Heroes presents its main characters in caricature form, exaggerating each person's physical qualities while adhering to what they were famous for. The main weapon that each hero has also builds on each character's personal characteristics. For example, Lincoln, being lanky and tall, uses a chainsaw to take advantage of his enhanced reached. On the other hand, Napoleon, known for being rather short, stands atop a wheeled cannon that travels beneath him on wheels. Some of these characters are downright hilarious (such as Queen Elizabeth with a machine gun), while a few, such as Joan of Arc, try to be serious, adhering to the martyr's nobility and experience with swords. This led to a much deeper appreciation of the characters implemented into Second Chance Heroes and the creative way in which each person was utilized.
The graphics of Second Chance Heroes are pretty solid. Adhering to its over-the-top, nonsensical plot, Second Chance's visuals are exaggerated, purposely blundered to help cater to iOS' limited format while still being wild enough to match the game's premise. The character models are greatly varied, between ghosts, aliens, possessed furniture, flaming karate zombies, killer plants, etc. Its over-animated graphics engine is reminiscent of Torchlight while being just weird enough to cater to the game's content.
The levels, though limited in actual choices, are expansive and offer lots of changes to its terrain throughout each one. Expect 15-20 minute rounds of gameplay per level if you're alone and about 8-10 when doing multiplayer. Many of these levels start off in simplistic, near-cliche areas of horror (e.g., a shopping mall), which echoes a very retro and familiar theme that reoccurs throughout Second Chance Heroes.
That's right, much of Second Chance Heroes' layout is done in tribute to Zombies Ate My Neighbors. From its comedic take on famous horror monsters to its level choices, most of Second Chance Heroes feels like a reboot of one of my most cherished, childhood games of my childhood. In Zombies Ate My Neighbor's fashion, the enemies of Second Chance Heroes start from being your mindless walkers but start changing throughout each level. Whenever I started thinking mowing down these zombies was getting kind of stale, Second Chance Heroes threw me a curve ball, going from zombies, ghosts, killer plants, undead chickens, mummies and aliens, which lead to excellent pacing when the enemies got boring (which they will due to huge health pools). All in all, this felt very much like the LucasArts classic.
Second Chance Heroes' control scheme is pretty simple -- it's the dual-stick control method. The left stick moves you around while the right stick attacks in whatever direction you're aiming in, which again seems like a nod back to Zombies Ate My Neighbors.
Unfortunately a few problems plague Second Chance Heroes due to its method of undead-removal. Every hit you do damage, the game displays visible hit-point damage over each enemy, hinting that multiple hits are required for most monsters. I felt that Heroes should've just stuck with the Neighbors' approach by making their default, weakest zombies die in one hit. Instead, enemies flock to you in hordes, resulting in you being swarmed while you just burn down each enemy one by one. Sure, there are special attacks, such as Cleopatra's area-of-effect magic and Abe Lincoln's chainsaw-spin, but I felt compelled to always save those for emergencies. The resulting effect is that I felt most of the weapons of the roster were too weak in clearing groups of monsters in the way that I was hoping for. I spent too much playtime being stuck in corners or playing keep-away while mowing bottom-tier monsters down one by one, and this only becomes a longer process to do later on as the enemies got stronger.
Second Chance Heroes provides a ton of mobile entertainment atop a charming personality. While the hit points of its enemies should have been toned down in order to maintain the pacing of the chaos, it still does an excellent job of establishing itself as its own game. The co-op was unfortunately a little bit laggy, but offered great 3-player action each time I got into it. Unfortunately, Heroes' single-player monsters have just as much health as its multiplayer ones, which makes it seem as though a little bit more detail should have went into it. Nevertheless, its quirky graphics, unorthodox roster and hilarious delivery make it a solid entry for anyone's mobile device.