There are so many zombie titles to choose from these days, so what makes Pandemic Shooter a game worthy of your pennies or growing wishlist? It depends on what you’re looking for.
In my opinion, FPS titles don’t fare too well on the Switch, but that could change. Usually it’s the technical restrictions; other times it might be the controls. While you could dock it, if you’re playing handheld, games that aren’t Doom ports are a bit… meh.
Taking that into consideration, Pandemic Shooter on the Switch ain’t that bad. It’s also not that good, but again, in my opinion. For the core gameplay it’s a first-person perspective; blasting zombies, the occasional alien and some behemoth bosses with a lot of health.
Putting aside the story for one moment, it plays relatively well. Character models have a cell shade aesthetic, and for the most part this works on the Switch, though it’d look better on a PC or similar. There’s also a good variety of enemy units, but after a couple of levels, you’ll note the patterns and that you’re facing the same enemies only resized.
Controls may be a personal thing, but they weren’t so great in Pandemic Shooter. Yes, the right trigger will shoot, and the analogue sticks will move and aim, but selecting from the weapons is sluggish (there’s no dedicated grenade button), there’s no zoom for aiming or a melee attack, and the sprint option is bound to a shoulder button. Press the Y button and the menu will pop up. You may end up exiting the game in error.
But it’s not that bad. I’d say that aiming is a little tricky in handheld, purely because of the size of the crosshair, but generally speaking, it’s okay. Unfortunately, you’ll see everything the game has to offer in the first couple of stages. You’ll storm the same city, exploring alleys for power-ups and shooting zombies until you reach a boss that takes far too much damage. It’s the same boss in almost every stage.
Except day turning to night and visiting the sewers, there’s not much to see. The same applies to the weapons as they all look, feel and sound the same other than the shotgun. A must if you have enough ammo. That’s Pandemic Shooter in terms of gameplay. After a while, it got monotonous, so I experimented and found that you can sprint through every level without engaging the enemy, then run in circles to kill anything that follows you. It’s pretty disappointing in that aspect.
So, what else does the game have to offer? Well, you could say the narrative. If you’re an anti-vaxxer, flat earther, or burned down your fair share of 5G towers, then you’re the butt of the joke. Pandemic Shooter is straightforward in its message without disguising it as satire. I didn’t find it offensive, nor was I offended on a stranger’s behalf, but judging by the opinions on social media, this could piss a few people off. Me? I could care less. Some of the cutscenes with the lizard people that ‘rule the world’ were amusing but not remotely subtle.
The divisive element for me was the dialogue exchange between the main character you play – a soldier, and his commander, the boss lady or something. The voice acting was surprisingly good, but the dialogue was cringeworthy, and the incessant laughing after almost every line was ridiculous. It was like being locked in a room with Beavis and Butt-head and Seth Rogan, heh heh [chortling]. “Jokes” about flat Earth and the soldier asking whether the woman was flat or globe-like was mental. It’s a shame as the actors were pretty good, and the banter flowed; it was just the stupid laughing for no apparent reason that had me reaching for mute.
Can I recommend Pandemic Shooter? No. However, I wouldn’t advise against it if it sounds like something you’d enjoy. It may surprise you, but I enjoyed the gameplay – regardless of the repetition. There were no technical issues, and it worked irrespective of the small crosshair in handheld. Headshots are surprisingly consistent. Just be aware that you’ll see everything the game has to offer early on. The narrative was interesting, and it’s nice to see Cave Games and No Gravity Games go for it without being afraid to step on any toes, but it wasn’t the content that grated on me, just the delivery heh [chortling].