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Sony PSP Review: Dead Head Fred

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This single player PSP exclusive title uses the third person perspective for the macabre filled adventures of Detective Fred Neuman, well voiced by John C. McGinley (Wild Hogs, Scrubs television series). Dr. Friedrich Steiner also factors in greatly as protagonist Fred must fight the bad guys and work on his memory mainly because… oh yeah, he doesn’t have a head after the game’s establishing storyline produces a nice set-up.

Set in the rural town of Hope Falls, now desecrated from a nuclear power plant scheme hatched from the very large antagonist Ulysses S. Pitt, Fred sets out for what else? Revenge! Fred gets to take off his foe’s heads and use them for related powers involving helium, scarecrows and other elements/combinations.

Completing his goals requires a lot of headwork as he switches among stone, skull, corpse, scarecrow, toxic, shrunken, mannequin and tiki heads. Each head can change with new elements and unique powers (check out the projectile teeth). Fred’s default head, complete with his eyes and brain, gets the job done, but many players will love the variety of weaponry and abilities spewing from the other eight heads. Keeping one head throughout missions to complete them faster doesn’t really work well. Many of the puzzles and enemies cannot be conquered without incorporating the other heads into this maniacal mix.

Fighting among the 12-plus levels can grow stale occasionally if you use the same power/fighting methods. Use your increasing intelligence to dispatch the same enemies in different, more entertaining ways. The hits (using square and X buttons) can get a bit repetitive, but the varying fighting methods and ever changing head powers provide some good variety. Press the triangle button to use Fred’s finishing move only when white objects resembling stars appear (reminded me of Mike Tyson on the NES). The optional side missions help with the variety and boost the bucks so players can purchase more optional game elements and powers.

This game has great visuals, an engaging story and inventive game play. Besides Fred, Pitt and the Doc, other colorful characters appear including a voodoo priestess and sushi vendor. Still, the real star of the game becomes the graphics, which pull every aspect of the game to a higher level.

Gamers will definitely get their fill of the visceral, survival-based violence. Fred also gets opportunities to use the mental part of his brain as well through the puzzle elements that often require multiple steps. Even if you’re already invested into the game’s concept, you’ll find that game play becomes a very demanding experience on the action and puzzle side.

Most of the powers originate from common sense physical properties. For example, the corpse head works like a stretchy container holding gases and other elements. The hunting/gathering elements (e.g. collecting 20 nuclear nuggets) create even more trials, which match an older (and perhaps more patient) target audience. An ideal title with top-notch graphics, high replay value and hilarious humor. Be sure to check out the ending credits. The game is also easy on the wallet, usually going for $30.

Dead Head Fred is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for blood, gore (frequently gratuitous), intense violence, mature humor and strong language.


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