I am struggling with existence this morning. I have always thought the saying “Thank God Its Friday” was a little trite, but I have been telling myself for the majority of the week “all you have to do is make it through Friday”. I am not really sure what about this week has made it so stressful, but I am certainly feeling it. It might be the fact that I know I am just about to be completely alone for a week as my wife has to go to a conference thingy. Have I mentioned that I don’t really embrace change well?
The Hills have Dead
One of the games I have really been looking forward to on the Xbox 360 is State of Decay. This is the open world exploration based zombie game from Undead Labs. It was available as of yesterday on the Xbox Live arcade for 1600 points… aka $20. Additionally it seems that Undead Labs is trying the failed 38 Studios approach of launching a console game and then bankrolling that success into a MMO version. So as I look at the game, I am also in the back of my head thinking about how well this will work in MMO form.
Basically in a quick sound byte… State of Decay is Dead Island but done better. You are given a more interesting world to explore, populated with less random encounters and a stealth mechanic should you choose to deploy it. I am about as subtle as a hurricane, so this is usually lost on me… but stealthier folks will love being able to sneak up on the shambling dead and get a silent take down. There is a lot going on in the game, and most of it really good… especially for a Xbox live title.
The premise is simple, you are at a campground when the world falls to shit… and you and your friend Ed (poor bastard) agree to go around searching for survivors. By saving other characters you essentially end up building a pack of stalwart zombie hunters. I believe later on you can develop an enclave of survivors and protect them, building influence with each of them. This influence seems to dictate the type of things you can do.
There are some really cool mechanics as you go out and explore the world. One of the niftiest things is that you can at any point essentially fortify your position. While this defies reason a bit, because as you fortify your position you magically brandish a hammer, nails and a stack of bedraggled board. However this function allows you to protect yourself from zombies busting through windows to come attack you and the human target… Ed. This will buy you more time to rifle through the bags and chests in an area to scavenge for materials.
So far I have encountered two kinds of undead. The first is your normal shambling kind that if they hear you comes running but can pretty much be beat down with a bat easily unless they swarm you. When I was searching the camp I discovered a maintenance shed that was guarded by a half dozen of a completely different kind of undead. These were far more dexterous and had an almost demonic appearance with glowing eyes. As a result these were much harder to take down… and quite honestly damned near killed me. However as I said earlier… the game really rewards risk taking, because the maintenance shed was completely loaded with stuff to scavenge.
At this point I have not really played the game for very long, as I had some things I was planning on doing in The Secret World. However the content I have played has left me wanting to play it more. If you like zombies and you like Fallout style open world exploration… then I would give this game a look. Additionally it has some pretty good voice acting and writing so far, even though I have not really experienced a lot of it. As a whole it very much feels like Dead Island meets Fallout meets Walking Dead by Telltale. If that sounds like an enjoyable combination… then you should totally check this one out.
Last night we lacked our quorum of five members, so nothing really coalesced in the game around a “group activity”. Since I had not yet done the “Last Train to Cairo” sequence, I figured it was as good a time as any to go get my whip. First off I have to give Funcom major kudos because this is hands down the best issue they have released. The feel of this mission goes above and beyond everything we have experienced to date. It makes me extremely anxious to see what seven and eight are going to be like… especially with seven supposedly having a 007 flair.
I am going to try to keep from spoiling any of the content… but essentially the mission pack is a wild ride of sabotage, puzzles, stealth, and the most epic train sequence you have ever seen. All the while you have these great flavor references to the Indiana Jones movies. This is made all the more surreal by the fact that of late I have been rocking a combination of the shinobi outfit… with the glowing draugr mask… to produce a ninja with glowing blue eyes. Jones. Shinobi Jones… with my subtle rocket launcher combat style.
As always the puzzles are extremely puzzling. There was one deadly floor trap that took me over thirty minutes and probably a dozen deaths to get the hang of. All of the risk however is well worth the reward, as you not only get your spiffy new whip… but also get a 10.1 epic helm in the process, as well as some currency with a new faction of the Council of Venice. I have heard rumor that through the upcoming expansions, there will be similar 10.1 epic items, all designed as a way to ease someone into being able to do the NY raid content. If so I fully support this notion of gear through truly epic quest sequences.
I really need to go back and complete the Tyler Freeborn sequence of quests, as I have left that one hanging as well. Quite honestly I am sure there is a lot of content I have missed, as the only issue that I have fully explored was the first one, with the awesome prom night sequence. Carter is still one of my all time favorite protagonists in this game, but after taking the train to Cairo… I am starting to really like combo of Nassir and Said. Quite honestly almost all of the content is extremely well written and memorable.
The Secret World has been one of those games that I fired up every few weeks and piddled around a bit in. However it has been months since I had actually played the game seriously. Each time I come back for awhile, I marvel at just how well crafted it is. It still has some very rough spots around the edges, but they have improved a lot in the last year. I hope that they manage to find that point of equilibrium at which they are able to continue producing introducing content, and as the same time sustain their work force. The game always gives me some awesome experiences.
I have more things I could talk about, but honestly my head is killing me and I want to wander off and find some headache medicine. Additionally it is already getting late in the morning, and I need to gather laundry for the cleaners. I might do a few bonus posts this weekend, because I have a few ideas that need to congeal in my head for awhile before throwing out onto paper. I hope you all manage to survive the coming work day, and that it ends up turning into a weekend quickly. Ours is going to be dictated by preparation for my wife to travel, and by myself mental preparation for being alone for a week.