Monday, June 17, 2013

State of Decay Compels You to Keep Swinging: A Video Game Review

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Developer: Undead Labs.

Publisher: X-Box Live Arcade.

There is something very satisfying about slashing away at pixelated zombies. The clatter, groan and eventual clunk when the flesheater's head is released from its body is cathartic and visually stunning. This and other, similar bloody experiences are part of Undead Labs' zombie survival simulator State of Decay. This title was released through X-Box Live Arcade June 5th and this game title is an effective and compelling time spent in a zombie apocalypse. From human resource to material management, State of Decay is consistently delivering a fantastic zombie killing experience.

The story, such as it is, begins with the character Marcus and his friend Ed. Both guys return from a fishing and camping trip to find Trumbull Valley under zombie threat. They quickly gather supplies, weapons and other survivors to combat the undead hordes. Other characters who join in to combat the growing mass of flesheaters include: the Army, moonshiners, looters, and simple common folk. As a player, you must manage all of these personalities, while hacking and slashing through hundreds of the undead.

It might be best to deal with the game's weakest element, combat, first. The combat in this release is very simple. You simply need to pound the X button, until you can complete a finishing move. Combat techniques improve over time, but you will likely still be hitting the same button, over and over again. Their are guns in the game. However, your best weapon is the vehicle. You can use a car or truck to run down dozens of zombies, which makes culling the zombie hordes a lot easier and less dangerous.

The dangers of Trumbull Valley lead this review and minor guide into another necessary component, tips. Players will generate and discover their own ways to deal with the apocalypse, but this player has a few of his own. After dying by the hordes several times, there are certain strategies you can use to prevent character permadeath. First, if you face a "Bigun" in the game, then take a friend and several heavy weapons e.g. grenades, firebombs along for the trip. Otherwise, you will watch a graphic of your character being torn apart. This zombie video game fan has seen this graphic far too many times. As well, if you are facing a zombie horde of 10 or more, then run. You might have another survivor with you, who is controlled by the game's artificial intelligence, but do not listen to their screams. You need to run! Or, you will die like your slow moving friend. Also, you will need to set up several outposts around your main camp. Outposts use traps to destroy zombie hordes and they are simple to construct. You will need to keep a minimum of three outposts going to keep the zombies at bay and you can create up to five. Finally, you will need to move quickly from mission to mission. The main mission and side missions will come frequently and fast, which means that you will need to be moving from section to section, on the map, if you want to keep survivors alive and resources flowing in your direction. These tips will, hopefully, keep you alive longer.

As a zombie survivor simulator, State of Decay is very good at creating a realistic experience. You will find yourself dealing with issues of resource management. You will have to gather medicine, ammunition, food and construction materials in equal parts, to keep your growing community safe and happy. You will also need to deal with the many changing moods, coming from your other survivors. They will experience melancholia, anger and others. It will be your job to take these survivors on missions and help them get over their emotional hurdle, or let them die, depending on their value to the group. Also, this title makes fortification building fun. There almost always seems like their is a better fortification to build, in order to keep your community safe and comfortable. From workshops to bunkhouses, you will need to continually construct something to maintain harmony in your group. All of these aspects create for a quality time spent in the apocalypse.

State of Decay sold close to 250,000 units in its first two days of release and there is a reason for that. This X-Box exclusive release is an excellent and enjoyable time spent bashing the undead hordes back. As well, the price for the game is small, but big in complexity ($20-30). Most zombie fans and game players will find something worthy here. And, gamers will find their own special knack, for defeating the zombie hordes. The ability to put your own personality into a zombie apocalypse is what makes this game so replayable and so addictive.

Overall: 8 out of 10 (small on story, fast paced, quick learning curve, lots to do, lots of characters, easy to die, death is permanent).

You can find out more on this game from Undead Labs:

State of Decay at Undead Labs

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