It’s Gonna Get Bloody
HIGH Sweet, glorious zombie destroying violence.
LOW There’s more than a minute of downtime between each enemy wave.
WTF “Sometimes… I wish I was a cat.”
Zombies really are a perfect enemy archetype. Like Nazis in World War II shooters, it’s almost impossible to feel empathy for such foes — whether setting them ablaze with a flamethrower or smashing them up with a crowbar, their demise brings only happiness. Besides, it’s either that or they’ll end up chewing someone’s face off. That’s what they do, after all. Killing Floor 2, thankfully, is a first-person shooter designed to let players to murder these walking flesh sacks in scores.
The storyline’s a throwaway — Europe’s infested with ‘Zeds’ and a team of mercenaries goes in to kick their rotting backsides apart — but it’s pretty much the only setup that’s required since the game is primarily designed for multiplayer co-op matches.
As the player count rises, so too does the amount of zombies crawling out of the woodwork. The more the merrier, right?
They’re nasty little buggers too, to be sure. Smaller zombies are basically fodder, put down in just a few shots, but there are crawlers that swarm out of manhole covers and other openings, Sirens which can scream from afar to damage players, and then there are bigger enemies like the Scrake, which will happily saw a player’s legs off with a chainsaw. Finally, it’s all topped off by one (of two) bosses showing up and requiring sustained gunfire to finally be killed off for nice rewards. The bosses can be pretty damn tough if the team doesn’t coordinate properly, though.
Along the way players will earn both money and experience from killing zombies. Cash is used to buy a temporary arsenal of weapons from 3D printers between waves of brain-munchers, and the experience goes towards permanent buffs for each character class.
SWAT members, for example, can choose to go in with body armor that the Zeds can’t grab onto, Berserkers can opt to have their health regenerate over time and more. There’s a huge list of options available which allow for some pretty decent character customization, and it leads to a palpable feeling of progress as a weak new character eventually becomes a buffed-up powerhouse. On the flipside, it also means that choosing a new class is an immediate and massive downgrade since it takes a while to level them up to the point when they’re actually useful in a group.
The biggest draw in Killing Floor 2 is likely going to be the sheer amount of bloody carnage that transpires throughout every single wave. Dozens of Zeds charge at the heroes to be systematically dismantled in the goriest manner imaginable. Limbs go flying, blood splatters across the walls, the undead burn and have chunks of skull, brains and bone blown clean out of their stupid shambling faces… honestly, I’m surprised that blood didn’t start seeping out the sides of my television after each session.
Thankfully, the selection of weapons is excellent, offering submachine guns, shotguns, flamethrowers, buzzsaws, and a whole lot inbetween. There’s a huge amount to choose from once players rack up enough cash, and even the weakest guns having a visible and gratifying effect on lower-tier Zeds. It’s nice to see a developer not content with guns just stopping these zombies in their tracks, but also making particularly visceral examples of them.
Since these bouts of mayhem take place in Europe, there’s a decent selection of maps available including a burned-out Paris cityscape, a secret research laboratory in the Swiss Alps and the Black Forest in Germany. While these stages look great, their size is also a little pointless in some ways given that the map design usually encourages holing up in certain defensible spots and doesn’t give incentives for exploration. There may be the odd gun or ammo pack lying around, but that’s pretty much it — a shame that there wasn’t a bit more utility to them since the areas generally look nicely detailed, .
The game also runs reasonably smoothly most of the time, coming close to a constant 60fps when things aren’t going nuts… though on the PS4, there’s some noticeable slowdown when in a full party of six and bits of humans past their expiration date are flying all over the place. It’s understandable to a degree since there’s typically a hell of a lot going on in these situations, but it’s still unfortunate given that it affects the otherwise-smooth gameplay.
However, while Killing Floor 2 is a fine game that gets the basics right, there’s just not enough to it right now to truly shine. It doesn’t take long before repetition begins to set in after killing countless hordes of zombie scum, and there’s not much variety in the way matches play out. There’s also just a little too much downtime between waves, or after unfortunate deaths.
That said, for anyone happy with being dumped into horde-style arenas and expected to slam zombie brains across the room with a sledgehammer with a team of like-minded savages, it’s definitely one of the better options on the market right now. Players who crave more than just shooting might find that it doesn’t quite manage to deliver a captivating experience past this core competence, though.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Hardsuit Labs and published by Tripwire Interactive. It is currently available on PS4 and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 25 hours of play were spent in multiplayer modes, with occasional solo bouts inbetween.
Parents: According to the ESRB‘s website, this game is rated M and contains Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, and Partial Nudity. This game has enough blood and guts to choke a camel, although there’s nothing too disturbing in it from my point of view – while limbs are lopped off and enemies set ablaze, it’s all done in a cartoonish ‘wasn’t-that-awesome’ approach that prevents any of it from being even remotely sickening. Still not one for the kids, mind.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Anyone hard of hearing is sadly at a disadvantage here. Being able to hear certain enemies approaching is near-vital to survival, and stronger enemies announce their presence with roars and screams informing players that things are about to get real.
Remappable Controls: Certain functions are remappable in that there are a number of control schemes to choose from.
Colorblind Modes: There seem to be no colorblind modes available in the options.
The chance discovery of a muddy, burnt out copy of '50 Shades of Grey' in a hunting pit gave him an appreciation for complex plots, characters and overarching narrative, and the unexpected gift of a Spectrum 48k allowed him to indulge in these newfound sensibilities with intelligent, highbrow games such as 'flee from the badly animated spinning turquoise dolphins' or 'avoid the deadly glowing bricks of doom'.
The fusion of both these interests finally culminated with Darren teaching himself how to write by basically guessing at what words might look like when jotted down on paper as opposed to being howled inarticulately at the skies.
Now others occasionally get to read his scribblings. Lucky them.