Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Zombies zombies zombies!

In recent years the whole zombie thing has been so overdone in popular culture to the point of becoming seriously stale.

Despite this, as we all know - you just cant keep a good zombie down and a few choice bits here and there have recently resurrected my interest in all things involving the shambling undead.

Okay. I’ll stop with the zombie puns now…

The first was picking up a cheap copy of Techland’s Dead Island, which first gained interest through this epic promotional trailer – which unfortunately was simply a marketing tool and was not in any way representative of the how the finished game would be like.

Hearing mixed things about the game I held off buying it when it first came out, but playing it recently, I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, its got its fair share of technical glitches and a repetitive mission structure, but as far as creating an open world zombie game, its pretty successful in creating an explorable playspace.

Rather than funneling you through corridors or set pieces such as say, in the Resident Evil games, there is a genuine sense of ‘place’ throughout, especially in the first part of the game where you are free to wander around a tourist beach resort – with objects strewn about everywhere evoking the unsettling aftermath of when the zombie outbreak first occurred.

The combat is focused mainly on melee attacks, and coupled with the first person viewpoint, leads to genuinely terrifying up close and personal encounters with the undead – the first few times causing you to swing away in a blind panic as a zombie lunges at you. The game is pretty violent too, with plenty of blood, dismemberment, bone-crunching sound and great ragdoll physics employed when knocking the enemy down with a particularly powerful blow. There is shooting too when you get your hands on some guns later on, but its
unfortunately not on par with other FPS games.

Although it's a game full of flaws, its still one that I am enjoying playing – and I haven’t even tried the four player online coop yet! I’m going to try and finish the game on my own first before I have a go at that.

The other zombie related thing that has been taking my interest recently is the currently airing second season of The Walking Dead.

After the first season ended up deviating a little too much from the story of its comic book source material, it's good to see the second season back on track with the arrival at Herschel’s farm.

What’s great about TWD is that, like all good zombie stories, it’s about the people involved in the situation and how they react to their circumstances rather than overly focusing on the undead themselves. Here, the zombies are pretty much the backdrop to the story - you care more about the characters and whether or not they can survive the dire situation they are in – not only from the threat of being eaten or infected by the undead, but more often from themselves and other survivors, due to the state of lawlessness that comes with the collapse of civilisation as we know it.

I’m currently only two episodes in and have several more to watch until I’m up to date so I’m looking forward to that – and you’ll probably hear more about it in a future post.

28 Feb 2012

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