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Android game Dead Runner might be not be worth chasing

by Caitlin M. Foyt

Dead Runner for your Android phone might put a new perspective on the old running game, but it doesn't have enough substance to warrant a $1.99 download.

There are tons of running game apps in the Android Market. Some are better than others, but they all have the same general idea: A character on screen must run for as long as he or she can without dying. You have this character's fate in your hands, and must tap an on-screen control that makes him/her jump whenever an object or pit appears in the path.

In the game of Dead Runner, you're still running, only now, instead of controlling an on-screen character, the game is taking place from your perspective. You're being chased through the woods by unfriendly spirits, and you must tilt your phone from side to side to dodge trees.

You can choose to play in two different gameplay modes, distance or points.

What sells the first-person-perspective experience of the game are its realistic 3D graphics. As you're running though the trees, more trees don't just suddenly appear. It's dark and kind of foggy, so trees first appear as a dark shadow through the mist. The creepy music creates an eerie mood, only confirming that all is not right in the world, and it's time to start running as fast as you can. It's a convincing setting. But, this is where the game's depth ends. The whole game is just dodging trees, which, you can probably imagine, doesn't stay fun for very long. The old standard running games, like Free Running or Flying Panda, might not be the most engaging games in the marketplace, but at least they have running and jumping buttons that need to be pushed, and a character you can relate to.

Dead Runner's tilt controls aren't very sensitive, and don't respond very well. If you want to dodge a tree, you gotta dodge it early. There were moments when I could clearly see that I was fast approaching one, so I quickly moved my screen left. Regardless of the fact that I had made my move with plenty of time to spare, I would still slam into the tree.

Dead Runner has some nice graphics and creepy sound effects, but it's not a game that will hold your attention for long. If you're interested in games where you run a lot, you can download tons of different running-style games from the Android Market, free.