Review

Second Chance Heroes Review (PC)

Abraham Lincoln famously once said: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” This profound statement is likely one which stands true to this day, however I’m fairly certain said power was an allusion to the strong metaphorical hand of politics or institution, not that of an unwieldy chainsaw. But such is the way in Rocket City’s hack ‘n’ slash arcade zombie apocalypse sprawler Second Chance Heroes.

From a chainsaw-wielding Abe Lincoln, to a canon-riding Napoleon Bonaparte; from a cutlas flailing Blackbeard, to a laser spouting, zimmer courting Marie Curie (yes, that’s right, and no, it’s not a misprint) these heroes are planet earth’s last bastion of defense.

Bow to her majesty, the Queen

Having begun life on the App Store, Second Chance Heroes now bursts onto Steam, dropping scores of undead bodies in its path, not to mention gross historical inaccuracies, like there’s no tomorrow. After a largely unexplained zombie apocalypse takes hold, all is thought lost before an unnamed history teacher reveals he has been cloning some of history’s most coveted figures; just the motley crew of superhumans needed to save this world in crisis. Apparently.

The aforementioned should give you a general sense of how batshit crazy - for there is no suitable alternative description - Second Chance Heroes truly is. Players must choose two of the ultimately 12-strong cast of characters (four available from the outset), each of whom boasts two moves: a generic attack with the LMB, and a special signature move with the RMB. An XP gauge is tucked under each character’s HP bar which signifies when special moves can be executed and mixing and matching the swappable characters is the quickest way to discover the best combos - for example, Lincoln’s chainsaw melee is augmented by a devastating spin-attack; whereas Queen Elizabeth’s standard rail gun is complemented by a health restoring union jack. XP regenerates automatically, however collectable battery powerups and smaller dose collectables can be found littered across the map, or tucked away in perishable lockers, treasure chests, and gumball machines.

By smugly pulling from just about every zombie cliche and trope in the book, hordes of enemies pour into the government bunkers and shopping mall settings from every angle, even from above. Labelled as “bored” and therefore “stress eating”, there are a number of ways the player can engage with their surroundings to distract the undead, such as turning on music, activating disco balls, and orchestrating magic shows. Flesh devouring lawnmowers and barrells brimming with explosives can be set upon enemies too, adding further carnage to an already preposterous battlefield. It does at times get a bit messy, and too often resulted in me simply button mashing my way through set pieces.

Lincoln, I need backup!

Unlockable relics bestow certain skills and perks upon the player, and equally add a certain layer of depth - as do a series of challenges attached to each level - however even considering the range of enemies - which include zombies, vampires, werewolves, and end of level bosses, to name but a few - repetition sets in very quickly in Second Chance Heroes. This is particularly evident in the game’s later stages where character strength, upgradable in exchange for XP, begins to outweigh that of the antagonists’. At just 70 pence on the UK App Store, you’d be hard pressed not to recommend Second Chance Heroes for its comedic, fast-paced action, and handy pick-up-and-play delivery, and it is perhaps of little surprise it fared very well upon App Store release earlier in the year as a result. However, at a tenner on Steam and minus the obvious draw of portable play, this recommendation becomes a lot less straightforward.

Multiplayer is without doubt the game’s saving grace as battling through the hordes of supernaturals flanked by Genghis Khan, Joan of Arc, and Nikola Tesla is quite something, and this is definitely where the game feels most at home. The main drawback here, however, is that actually finding three compatriots to fight alongside is a challenge in itself - possibly down to the fact that the game isn’t long on Steam, but decidedly trying nonetheless.

Napoleon rides a canon. Of course

Second Chance Heroes on PC isn’t bad, but it’s not great. A generous 26 levels are let down by a distinct lack of substance - especially once the jokes get tired, which if I’m being brutally honest was, for me, almost immediately. In order to unlock all 12 characters, you’re looking at sticking out seven or so hours of playtime. Lackluster at times this may be within the single player campaign, multiplayer - when available - is genuinely good fun.

Probably the most important thing to consider with Second Chance Heroes is that it’s a game which doesn’t take itself seriously. The main problem this posed for me though was that instead of doing so in a charming manner, I was ultimately left questioning why I should either.

Best Game Moment: Four player multiplayer, whenever it was possible.

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Comments

By Voqar (SI Core Veteran) on Jul 11, 2014
Voqar
As much as I love Steam, this is one thing that I absolutely do not like, and that's the taking of a $0.99 mobile game and turning around and charging $15 for it as a PC game. I'm sure they put in some extra effort to make a crappy mobile game into a crappy PC game but still, the core game is already there and it's not like they rewrote the whole thing 15x over to justify that cost.

On top of the fact that no game created for mobile is ever going to be anything but a childishly simple game on PC and nowhere near worthy of a $15 price tag.

Valve is being shifty by helping sell games where their cut will be larger than the original price of the game, and it's a disservice to gamers since many don't realize they're getting fleeced for a crappy mobile game.