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State of Decay

State of Decay

Undead Labs hits the mark with a head-shot in this new third person apocalyptic zombie shooter. State of Decay is an addictive game that draws you in with impressive graphics and neck biting action to hack and slash your way through hordes of zeds.  The vast open world to explore is a refreshing outlook on zombie action games. You are instantly thrown in at the deep end as you begin the game, finding yourself under attack and scrambling for cover, it’s a dangerous world.

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State of Decay took a new direction in creating a game and strayed away from the conventional zombie scenarios found in hit titles such as Dead Rising and Left 4 Dead. Instead, it opts for a realistic survival game in which you have to scavenge for supplies, build defenses and stockpile medicine. Missions are assigned once you have unlocked the beginning of the game and these involve search and rescue type missions, defeating infestations and scavenger runs. You can and will be injured by zeds and will need to rest and use medicine to heal yourself. Luckily you have the option of playing between two main characters, Marcus and Maya, so it’s very helpful to swap out characters and allow the other to rest and recover.

What’s great about the game is the sense of realism and the need for survival. In Left 4 dead campaigns there is a brief story and the rest is pure shooting and hacking zombies in limited map scenarios. Very much like Day Z, State of Decay allows you to make your own choices and the world changes based on your actions. If you choose not to help a survivor, that outpost can be lost, or if you don’t act on infestations, they spread and take over. Your home base can be overrun and lost, so even some strategy, leadership and decision making comes into play.

There is a small story happening and unfolding as you progress through different parts of town to establish outposts but the main focus is on survival and this is most of the game. Building relationships and mediating is an asset, as you gain trust with other characters you build friendship and unlock more playable roles. Characters need to use their skills often to gain stats and improve melee and shooting abilities. Remember, Rule number 1, Cardio!

Though missions are limited at the moment, there is hope for more downloadable content in the near future and I for one am hooked on this game and eager to see where this game will go with more development. This is the kind of zombie game I’ve been waiting for. State of Decay is available on Xbox and PC, through Steam. The PC version is newly open in Early Access stage and controls are not yet supported. The controls on the PC are responsive but slightly awkward and clunky. Playing in windowed mode is possible at this time but it’s frustrating to play as the mouse controls are way too sensitive and you often find the mouse leaves the game screen causing problems for zombie attacks, but it’s still early and some work needs to be done on the controls for PC. It may help a little to turn down your mouse pointer sensitivity settings.

The actual game progression leaves the choice of missions up to you and it doesn’t really matter in which order you complete missions. Again the sense of realism kicks in when you realize that you can lose the character if they die and they won’t be playable anymore. All the hard work you make increasing skills and abilities can be lost so you feel a lot of pressure not to do anything stupid like getting yourself killed. There are quite a few things to do around town before you move on, and several achievements can be unlocked.

This game offers lots of fun and many hours of game-play. It’s immensely satisfying to drive around the towns mowing down packs of zombies running at you, and tons of fun. Forget all the rules about noise or fuel consumption and just let rip with the handbrake turns. Enjoy the little things! You can kill zombies with your car door, just as in Zombieland. Sound effects are great too, lots of squishy blood and carnage as you bash zombies with an axe and cave their head in. That’s just pure awesome!
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Stealth helps a lot in this game and you can hide in bushes to avoid packs of zeds. In this game, melee works best, but large packs of hungry zeds grab you round the neck and choke hold you while 3 other zeds chew on your remains. If you’re on foot just hide or run, find a car and mow them down with a satisfying squelching sound as blood splatters across the highway. As mentioned before, the great game-play is where the game’s strength lays, and I love how elements of DayZ, Left 4 Dead and GTA have been combined for a rich experience. The only disappointment I can complain about for this game is the lack of missions and no customizable characters.

With buildings like the one shown, it feels important to secure buildings and build useful repair rooms, medical bays or sleeping quarters in them, because they will be crucial later in the game as more infestations spread. This gives me the feeling there is hope that extra add-ons like custom gear, repairing items and mission packs are planned as DLC in the near future.

Overall this is highly entertaining gaming with generous details in graphics, sound, and zombie artificial intelligence. The controls on PC are an issue that needs resolving. More DLC is needed. I really recommend you play it and keep watching Undead Labs for more releases. Don’t forget, check the back seat, and always Double Tap!

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This entry was posted on October 1, 2013 by in entertainment, gaming, review and tagged , , , , , , .

Logo image by Lora Rajah under creative commons license.

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