State of Decay review arrives

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State of Decay review arrives

Post by Killswitchmad on Wed 5 Jun 2013 - 9:22

I’m eight or so hours into State of Decay for Xbox Live Arcade. The framerate chugs regularly, zombies frequently clip through doors, walls, and floors, and Pastor Bill – whose church we’d holed up in and fortified as our base – succumbed to the Black Fever and turned undead in the night, killing Shayla, my primary player character I’d leveled up the highest, as well as another member of my community while they slept.
State of Decay is living up to its name in every sense of the word, and through it all I am absolutely in love with it.

It is not a game borne of this Golden Age of tutorials and hand-holding. You are no superhuman zombie slayer, armed to the teeth with a stockpile of firearms and a recharging health meter. Death is both imminent and permanent, and venturing away from the (relatively) safe confines of your home base at night is downright terrifying.

Yes, State of Decay is an open-world zombie survival game, but what’s not obvious right away – and glorious once you plumb its depths – is that it’s a full-blown role-playing game. A fantastic one at that. Switching back and forth between one of several player characters, you’ll travel across the multi-town desert region recruiting new survivors, searching vacated shops and houses for supplies, and managing relationships with the people you encounter – both those in your party as well as other humans you’re not aligned with.

Health is scarce, the zombies can move as fast as you once alerted, and most harrowingly, you can realistically only run for a short time before you’re gassed and have to stop for breath. And you’ll have to scrounge for whatever you can, both in terms of weapons (pipe wrenches, hatchets, and hockey sticks along with guns, too) and transportation. Both your offensive arsenal as well as your cars (which, of course, also double as formidable weapons themselves; Pro tip: speed by one just off to your left and press X to open the driver’s door. It’s a satisfying swat.) degrade over time, necessitating repair or replacement. Delightfully, it means you can never rely on one great sidearm or one useful truck the whole time. The more damage you do, the quicker you’ll need to find another way to deal it. This keeps your eyes open and the tension high, particularly when you’re searching a house for resources; make too loud a noise and all of a sudden a throng of zombies will barrel forth as you try anything and everything to escape alive without being enveloped by the horde.

Tying it all together brilliantly is Influence, which serve as the game’s currency. Every outpost you create, base upgrade you make, goodie you take from your Supply Locker, and item you bring back from the field have Influence points attached to them. Completing missions and storing found weapons and resources inside the Locker benefits the group and thus earns you Influence. Want to fill your backpack with as many guns as you can carry before becoming encumbered? Go ahead, but the Locker is like an Influence bank. In other words, a shotgun might be worth 90 Influence points, so removing it from your stash subtracts 90 Influence, preventing you from going full-on Rambo out there. It makes for a brilliantly balanced system where you’re constantly forced to make considered choices.

Speaking of options, you’re likely to gravitate towards one or two playable characters, mostly because you can level-up their core skills like Cardio (running), Wits (searching and sneaking), Fighting, Shooting, and others by doing them. That’s what made Shayla’s unexpected death all the more painful; I lost all of her accrued skill points and weapon specialty bonuses.
In fact, at one point shortly after Shayla died, I was down to just three survivors. Because two of them weren’t designated as “Friends,” though, I couldn’t switch to them to allow my new avatar, Anderson, to rest. So I was forced to, well, survive, popping Codeine to heal my wounds and chugging coffee to replace the stamina I was continually losing from the fatigue. I endured all this while also struggling to make enough supply runs to keep everything at base running smoothly and building up enough Influence to spend on putting out radio calls in the hopes of recruiting new survivors.

Eventually, though, I recovered, keeping group morale high enough where nobody fled. And indeed there’s a bit of a learning curve to State of Decay. I lost two survivors in the first couple hours because I underestimated the speed and viciousness of a single zombie horde. You simply must take out the undead individually in order to successfully defeat them. A stealthy approach, thanks to insta-kill moves pulled off by maneuvering behind a Zed undetected, can be a powerful ally.

Like fellow brilliant zombie success The Walking Dead from Telltale, Decay’s technical shortcomings – its jankiness – are what hold it back from immortality. Besides the aforementioned framerate and clipping problems, I also encountered constant texture pop-in issues as well as one stretch where none of my character’s weapons were visible in her hands - nothing that ever broke the game, but certainly annoying.

Decay’s only other missteps are minor. The plotline is engaging and sets up a great finale, but it falls a bit short due to a lack of tough choices, such as the ones you had to make in The Walking Dead. And while it may seem unfair to criticize a game for nonexistent features, you can’t help but daydream about the fascinating possibilities and adventures that a cooperative mode could’ve laid bare – especially when State of Decay’s creators have publicly stated that they originally planned to included it and hope (not “plan,” hope) to still add it via a post-release patch.

THE VERDICT

State of Decay’s ambition reaches farther than most $60 titles, so its value is unquestionable as a $20 download – especially given how it manages to successfully meet so many of its lofty goals. I spent about 12 hours in this Zed-infested world, and while I saw most of what’s there, I could’ve spent a few more hours exploring. And since I focused on melee weapons the first time, I fully plan to start another game with a gun-centric character. Meanwhile, startup developer Undead Labs has already said that if State of Decay is successful, it hopes to follow it up with a massively multiplayer online sequel, codenamed “Class4.” But for now, Decay belongs in the pantheon of great modern zombie games alongside Valve’s Left 4 Dead series and Telltale’s Walking Dead episodes.

8.9
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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by Reaper FWG on Wed 5 Jun 2013 - 9:46

very very tempting!
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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by The Selkie on Wed 5 Jun 2013 - 10:23

I was tempted by this as I really really like the concept of a free roaming zombie survival game, but having looked at some gameplays I wish they'd taken it in another direction.
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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by Pagey on Wed 5 Jun 2013 - 11:22

Reaper FWG wrote:very very tempting!

Play DayZ with me on the PC !! Same thing but better and you can play online Very Happy
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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by FWG Unky Al on Wed 5 Jun 2013 - 12:07

hmm, very tempting...how much Tom

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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by Killswitchmad on Wed 5 Jun 2013 - 13:17

NightHaze FWG wrote:
Reaper FWG wrote:very very tempting!

Play DayZ with me on the PC !! Same thing but better and you can play online Very Happy

I was expecting something similar to DayZ but this is totally different, setting up base camps, running supply runs it's crazy how much depth there is to the game, slight graphical hitches aside this is easily up there with full retail releases and the scope of just how random it all is is epic....

It's 1600 points Craig so roughly £14
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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by Killswitchmad on Wed 5 Jun 2013 - 13:18

The Selkie wrote:I was tempted by this as I really really like the concept of a free roaming zombie survival game, but having looked at some gameplays I wish they'd taken it in another direction.

How so mate?
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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by HomerRamone2084 on Wed 5 Jun 2013 - 13:53

1600 - greedy cantsa
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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by slowdog76 on Wed 5 Jun 2013 - 14:03

yh its expensive......














but damn, is it good
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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by Killswitchmad on Wed 5 Jun 2013 - 19:05

So how's everyone doing so far? Any shit your pants moments? Lost anyone yet?

I had a horrible moment when I flipped a car over and got surrounded by a horde, got far enough for the car to blow up without injury only for the noise to attract about 40 zombies.....had to sprint back to the church while they were still attracted by the noise Smile
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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by The Selkie on Wed 5 Jun 2013 - 21:29

Killswitchmad wrote:
The Selkie wrote:I was tempted by this as I really really like the concept of a free roaming zombie survival game, but having looked at some gameplays I wish they'd taken it in another direction.

How so mate?
Ideally I would have liked it as a more realistic, grittier experience. Instead they seem to have went down the GTA route in terms of graphics and (from the look of it) melee combat. I'm downloading the demo at the minute so I'll see what I think after playing it for a while, but at the minute I think it looks like a good game that could have been great.
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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by Toasted Cylon on Wed 5 Jun 2013 - 21:51

As soon as I saw it was yet another zombie game.
I'm just not a fan of the zombie genre as a whole, although I do admit to a soft spot for the Resident Evil movies.
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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by Killswitchmad on Wed 5 Jun 2013 - 23:22

The Selkie wrote:
Killswitchmad wrote:
The Selkie wrote:I was tempted by this as I really really like the concept of a free roaming zombie survival game, but having looked at some gameplays I wish they'd taken it in another direction.

How so mate?
Ideally I would have liked it as a more realistic, grittier experience. Instead they seem to have went down the GTA route in terms of graphics and (from the look of it) melee combat. I'm downloading the demo at the minute so I'll see what I think after playing it for a while, but at the minute I think it looks like a good game that could have been great.

I see where your coming from mate, you may be better off waiting for Undead Labs next project, Class 4 basically a zombie survival MMO.

The problem with this not being gritty really comes down to the fact that it's and XBLA title so it could never really push the boundaries of graphics plus it's such a small dev team, however in times of survival it's easily the most realistic game out there, I mean take this for instance...

I saved a guy this afternoon and brought him back to my camp to join the group, things were fine for awhile but tension built and I ended up taking him on a supply run to calm things down, again after awhile things kicked off again so I made the tough choice to kick the guy out, only for him to come running back 10mins later with a horde of zombies chasing him just so he could get them into my base for payback! It didn't have to play out like that though, I could have just take him out on another run and let him get killed or even try harder to reconcile the differences, the game is just so open ended and dynamic and that's where it really innovates
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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by slowdog76 on Thu 6 Jun 2013 - 8:31

i've been playing with the starting character non-stop. the other survivors are just short of strapping me to a bed to get some rest and recover

basically, you are not just responsible for one person, you are responsible for all of them and can take control of who you want at any time. pretty innovative really
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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by Dongziller on Thu 6 Jun 2013 - 12:15

Lost no one yet though shot one of camp in the face because he was infected
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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by Killswitchmad on Thu 6 Jun 2013 - 12:21

Not lost anyone yet but one of my survivors is currently sick, hopefully he'll recover as I've got slot of meds Smile
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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by Reaper FWG on Thu 6 Jun 2013 - 12:55

lost no one but im only a couple of hours in.
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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by Dongziller on Thu 6 Jun 2013 - 13:18

You get an achievement for shooting an infected camp member in the face
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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by Pagey on Thu 6 Jun 2013 - 14:32

Umm...the more I read the more I am tempted to buy Neutral

Mind you LoveFilm have just sent me Far Cry 3 and Tombraider so they should keep me busy
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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by bal on Thu 6 Jun 2013 - 16:55

NightHaze FWG wrote:Umm...the more I read the more I am tempted to buy Neutral

Mind you LoveFilm have just sent me Far Cry 3 and Tombraider so they should keep me busy

Let me know what Tomb Raider is like, got it on my lovefilm list

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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by Toasted Cylon on Thu 6 Jun 2013 - 18:04

I really enjoyed Tomb Raider, I've been a fan of Crystal Dynamics for years & I think they've got a real handle on what makes a good TR game.

I think Haze will find that whilst TR is the better of the 2 games, FC3 is the more fun.
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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by Waylander FWG on Thu 6 Jun 2013 - 21:54

Dongziller wrote:You get an achievement for shooting an infected camp member in the face

Who would have thought that you would know about chievos? Laughing

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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by Pagey on Thu 6 Jun 2013 - 22:33

bal wrote:
NightHaze FWG wrote:Umm...the more I read the more I am tempted to buy Neutral

Mind you LoveFilm have just sent me Far Cry 3 and Tombraider so they should keep me busy

Let me know what Tomb Raider is like, got it on my lovefilm list

Will do Bal. I have heard good reports about it Very Happy
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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by Killswitchmad on Mon 17 Jun 2013 - 1:16

Finally lost my first survivor, had been using Marcus right from the very beginning of the game and lost him in the most pathetic way.

Had just moved my home base to Marshall so I needed to gather some materials to upgrade my base, there were loads of places right outside the home base so I didn't think anything of just running out quick, grabbing supplies and running back all in a minute or so.

Did this a few times then went out once more only to round a corner and bump into a big'un, now I've taken on loads if big'uns and always triumphed but this one literally picked me up and tore me in half as soon as I bumped into it...

Has given me a new found appreciation of planning carefully and using stealth....
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Re: State of Decay review arrives

Post by FWG Unky Al on Mon 17 Jun 2013 - 7:17

I lost my 1st survivor early on...I was more concerned with saving my own skin to help her out Very Happy

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