Saturday, 11 August 2012

PC: Project Zomboid

Time for my first ranting review folks. First of all I probably should make clear that the game I'm talking about in this post, Project Zomboid, is still in Alpha stages so it is far from finished making this kind of a preview as opposed to a review. Project Zomboid is an isometric view, sandbox, survival, zombie RPG. Yeah that was a mouthful and probably didn't cover all that the game is. It is being created by an indie developer called Indie Stone. Kinda shot themselves in the foot if they become a fully fledged AAA company eh?

Right to the issue at hand. Project Zomboid or PZ for short, involves trying to survive in a zombie infested town (and surrounding countryside) called Knox County. As a unique spin on the usual zombie genre the game is not so much based around living out the apocalypse until you find a cure and rebuild society but rather trying to see how you die, in (just about) the devs' own words, you are playing the story of your death. The game is set up to make death an inevitability between ever growing roaming hordes of zombies to increasing difficulty in getting food and water and even having to compete with other survivors. Though I don't believe it has been implemented yet, as time goes on various events occur to enforce this further. For example the power plant for the county will, after several months, fail. This means fridges will no longer prolong the life of food and ovens and microwaves will no longer cook your raw food. Also factor in your character's fear, sanity and even boredom and you have yourself one a challenging yet quite realistic experience (yeah I know we're dealing with zombies so realistic is kind of loose here but bear with me). Other planned events include neighbouring areas to Knox County succumbing to the zombie infection, despite the quarantine, causing hordes to get bigger and more common and there are plans for military patrols to enter the town and you better believe they are not the hey man you're saved kind of military presence. Throw in crafting; possibility to either team up with, ignore or kill other survivors; some great atmospheric and thrilling music; looting and fortifying buildings and an already significant modding community this is a game to watch. I am particularly looking forward to the addition of multiplayer which will create the kind of experience that will be awesome with friends.

So a bit of my own experience actually playing the game. When you load up you get two options, either plain sandbox mode where you spawn somewhere random and see how long you can last and how epically you can die. Alternatively you can play a story. Currently there is only one story which serves as a tutorial, introducing the basics of how to play the game following the story of a man and his injured wife. This option is very open to mods and community created content. Just about every playthrough I have had so far usually plays out the same way, through my own choice not due to game limitations I can assure you. I find a flat above a shop or one of the houses in the suburbs and gather supplies from around the area before securing my cosy home with wooden planks. After stockpiling enough food to feed an army I start exploring a bit further afield for weapons and just general curiosity then returning home to snooze at night. It often gets to a stage I feel like Will Smith in I am Legend minus the loveable canine companion. In many cases, just as I get comfy one of the large hordes of travelling zombies stumbles upon my safehouse, tears down my doors and windows and leaves me using bedsheets to rappel out of my bedroom window and run off into the distance where I on average last about 10 minutes before receiving a bite which has something along the lines of 97% chance of causing infection. This may sound odd but the idea is to give the player a last hope of survival. Yes the devs are that cruel. Due to having to leave all my supplies at my home and now hotel for my rotting neighbours I am left tearing up the shirt on my back to create a bandage to prolong my inevitable death. In one of my playthroughs I found myself in such a situation and upon discovery of my infection I decided to go out with a bang. After making a molotov cocktail I began moving towards the town centre. It didn't take long before I was faced with one of the mighty flesh eating mobs. I grabbed my pistol knowing I likely had several hours before I succumbed to zombieism (yeah it's a word, kind of) and fired my only clip into the mass of shuffling undead. They soon reacted leaving me just enough time to grab my improvised firebomb. As my last act I threw it into the centre of the crowd, drew my nailed bat and ran in to glory and a highly agonising looking death. Upon death you are presented with how long you survived which will either be met with a feeling of pride or shame despite a healthy degree of luck being involved.

This is a frankly great game and I likely haven't touched on many of the features of this very in depth game and as I have mentioned several times the game is not complete and will have a lot more added by the time it is considered complete. Of course this does also mean that it has it's fair share of bugs although the severe game breaking ones are mostly removed before even test releases are made available for those who have pre-purchased the game. For those interested in the game pay a visit to the Project Zomboid website where a demo is available from the last stable build of the game. If that then appeals to you, the game can be picked up for the tiny sum of £4.99 on Desura or through Google Checkout and trust me with the potential time this game can kill it is a sound investment. The demo alone has replay value. Indie Stone also have plans to get PZ on Steam and are currently working on getting the latest build stable in order to do this. Now Indie Stone will be the first to tell you they have not had much luck during the development of this game so they could do with your support and remember like many indie devs they do need to eat occasionally. Have a look at the site here:

If you have any questions on PZ or would like to give your thoughts on my first post please comment I'd love your feedback guys. Until next time enjoy your gaming you zombie killing, apocalypse surviving bad-asses you.

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