State of Decay
So what is State of Decay? Well it's a Zombie Sandbox Arcade game for the Xbox 360 created by Undead Labs.
Now the blunt point has been made lets get on with it. State of Decay is a Third Person zombie sandbox with a Semi-Dynamic world (I''ll explain this later) in which you take on the role of a number of survivors and try to survive in the zombie outbreak.
In terms of a game opening and story. Well you get none. The game quite literally opens with you and your friend under attack by a zombie and you must fight back. I don't really like starting a talk about a game on a negative note but this really can't be avoided. I understand wanting to let the player get stuck in but the lack of any form of cutscene is just poor development.
Well moving on your "tutorial" consists of a smaller part of the game world introducing you to a few of the games gimmicks and elements. Hand to Hand combat. Stealth. Searching. Survivor tasks. Shooting and finally Driving which are all very easy to pick up on as the games controls are not too difficult to master.
Who are our grand heroes of this survival story? Well no one actually. You begin as Marcus a character who is a jack of all trades in terms of skills and you are initially followed around by your best friend Ed and fellow survivor. Badass Army Cpl. Maya (Points for happening to be going hunting during a Zombie outbreak. That Rifle helps) The only other characters of note are Lily your resident Radio Operator who will assign you tasks and keep you up to date on the situation at home and Forest Ranger Alan. Besides those few named characters who you play as and who join you (Or don't join you) through your ordeal there really isn't a set main character. You're perfectly free to play as whoever you feel like which can be off putting. (Again I'll cover this later)
So what is there to do in this game you must be wondering. Well the answer is that this game essentially plays out like Dead Rising but on a smaller scale with none of the absurdity. No chainsaw juggling clowns or incestrious lesbian game show hosts here. You have story related missions which will appear as time moves on but between then Lily will inform you of things going on for example survivors who need help and you can go about these tasks as you please.
An important feature of State of Decay is your Home base. This is the place where your survivors will spend their time and where you will regularly find yourself going to in order to rearm. Drop off supplies or swap to a new character to give that survivor a rest. Your Home base can build certain facilities for example sleeping areas, kitchen, workshop which in turn provide you a variety of services and functions to help your survive the zombie outbreak. your Home base can be attacked and realistically your sheer incompetence can also be costly. Leading zombies back to your Home and especially leaving gates open come to mind.
The main gameplay for State of Decay comes from scavenging for supplies and potential places to build outposts for your Home base which will supply it with the essentials. The loot in State of Decay appears random but for the most part is realistic. Gun shops and the Police Station will usually have guns and crates of Ammo in them which can be collected and brought Home. Vets and Pharmacies have medical supplies. Petrol Stations...You get the idea. There's also normal houses to search too.
The most pressing note about scavenging is that the world is realistic in how you affect it. No, items do not respawn after a set time. If you use them they're gone for good same for cars meaning if you completely drain an area of all loot then you best be prepared to pack up and move home or go further for the essentials. This is good as it teaches the player about the type of resource management we usually only see within actual Zombie Movies/TV shows. Even DayZ doesn't do finite resources.
Now onto State of Decays problems and yes there are many. The biggest damn problems is the God awful frame rates. Even for an Arcade game this is pushing it. Frames will be slow regularly and this can be very dangerous driving as personally I have more than once crashed a car due to a frame drop. On the topic of cars we find another problem of the game. Cars are ridiculous in their suspension. If you try to go off country especially in your 4x4 then good luck as you will 9/10 flip and be thrown clean from the car at a substantial cost of your health. Yes within State of Decay neither suspension nor seat belts exist.
The game also as mention previously suffers from its lack of consistency in story. You can play half a story as one survivor and finish it as another. Story and Gameplay are very much separated in this game. And even with this the story is dull and uninteresting to the point there really is no story. With the exception of the Military missions there's no real incentive to do any of the other "Stories."
The last issue I want to make clear is what I wrote at the start. "Semi-Dynamic." allow me to now explain. Yes the game is dynamic in the sense your survivors will do things and you will get a mission to help them half the time because they've screwed up and need help. "Hello Maya. What's that? You''re trapped in a house surround by zombies and have no way to fight out? Wait don't you have an M-16 and an M9?" But the missions themselves just repeat usually with the same survivor making the same damn mistakes as previously. Also Dynamic missions are confined to your immediate Home base vicinity (somewhat justified) but there's rarely any random mission to venture to the other side of the map.
So in closing I will sum up the Pros and Cons of this game.
- It's an Arcade game that feels like a full title.
- It's something new. Dead Rising but with more emphasis on survival.
- The survival elements are spot on. The world supplies are finite as are survivors themselves. When another survivor or community is gone they're gone for good.
- The world is Semi-Dynamic and affected by many of your actions.
- Weapons galore. Dozens of melee weapons and 99 Firearms from Handguns, Revolvers, SMG's, Shotguns, Assault Rifles, LMG's, Sniper Rifles and Explosives. (The gun creator stopped putting guns in after being told to stop by other Devs)
MORE COMING SOON? THERE'S MORE BLOODY GUNS HERE THAN IN CoD
- Regular bad frame rates.
- Little to no story.
- Little character development (Except litteral development) with no likable characters.
- Guns are worthless. you will usually carry a handgun and suppress it but beyond that there's no incentive to using anything else as only head shots work and your character is affected by weight (Yes M-16's weigh a bit) leaving guns as something you will just collect to use to sell for Influence. The games "currency."
* Absurd background events going on that don't help anyone one bit in a zombie apocalypse.
"Hello Cpl. Maya. I remember you from our tour in Afghanistan. We went through the shit together. I've been sent here to shoot looters and arrest survivors for being out on the streets...Now leave this area at once while my men continue to search this home for survivors"
Okay not an exact quote but this is the bare bones of the Armies role. Seriously this is like Day 2 of the outbreak and they're already threatening to execute people even when they actively admit they don't know what's actually going.
- One of the most Anti - climatic endings I have seen to date.