By: Jeff Cater
Second Chance Heroes is a twin-stick shooter featuring folk legends and historical figures. This is also a port of a mobile title for the iPhone and iPad, so the game’s mechanics never really get too complicated; just shoot the zombies!
As a twin-stick shooter, it is immediately accessible to anyone with two thumbs. Any chosen character automatically attacks in the direction you move the right stick, and you can unleash your special attack by pulling R2. Aside from the X button, which activates objects in the environment, the other face buttons correspond to activating relics that you have picked up on the battlefield, or to trigger healing or bonus damage effects.
As any melee character the controls work just fine, but any character that requires a touch of precision is a much bigger challenge to play as and enjoy due to how spastic the right stick becomes when trying to aim an ability. With that issue alone, it renders about half of the character roster a pain in the ass to play as. There is no way (that I found) to adjust the sensitivity of the sticks, either, so you either have to put up with the slips long enough to master the controls or simply stick to the easier characters.
Though the game is full of bright, vivid colors and chock full of environmental details, it cannot do much to escape its mobile roots: characters are low poly and tend to skip a lot of animation sequences in favor of other animations that can cause a lot of characters sliding across the stage without moving. While forgivable for a mobile title, on a full-fledged gaming system there should have been a touch of work done to spruce up the animation sets. Lots of the times your legs will just be moving the wrong direction altogether.
While your historical cast has some pretty decent one liners, the main voice of the game comes in the form of a totally uninspired security guard for the mall you start off in. Lots of times he will instruct you to do a task you’ve already completed, and I’m thinking that with the lazy delivery of dialogue, it might be intended to be that way. The soundtrack is alright but doesn’t try to break any ground; it’s merely tolerable.
It’s hard to screw up a twin-stick shooter, and even though the controls make half of the characters an artificial challenge to use, the game is still pretty fun. You take your two chosen heroes from one end of a stage to another, completing bonus objectives like finishing a level within a certain time threshold or collecting hidden scrolls.
Being able to switch between your characters on a whim with L1 is pretty handy when it comes to whipping up combos, but it’s likely that you’ll just find the one character that you are comfortable with and switch only when death approaches. Death is pretty easy to avoid, given that most heroes’ attacks are sweeping blows that cover a decent area, so you’re really only in trouble if you are completely surrounded.
If you are able to find any televisions or radios, you can switch them on to have zombies gather around them, mesmerized by the dancing zombie on the screen. In addition to the radios and television sets, other deathtraps can be activated and utilized by you, such as lawnmowers and security robots (whose robotic dialogue sounds less robotic than the actual security guard) that will completely destroy anything they come into contact with.
Ultimately, any level boils down to “Get from Point A to Point B, and then maybe do this one other thing as well” type of objectives. The incentive to continue the journey is unlocking additional characters such as Leonardo DaVinci, Montezuma and even Blackbeard. Some of them are pretty fun to play as, but really, how can you beat playing as Abraham Lincoln with a chainsaw?
Second Chance Heroes could use a definite facelift to its current edition, or maybe even a sequel focused on taking advantage of the powerhouse that is the PlayStation 4. As it stands, half of the character roster is a pain to play as, the voice acting is a mix between uninspired and hilarious, and the objectives between levels are too similar to warrant a full playthrough by yourself. If you’ve got a friend with you, and you both can find someone good to play as, there’s a good amount of fun to be had hacking away at zombies and making fun of the voice acting together.