State of Decay – First Impressions

The Zombie Game we've always wanted

The Zombie Game we’ve always wanted.

Version Played: Xbox 360

Back in 2006 when I was gearing up to buy my Xbox 360, I was buying it for one game. That game was Dead Rising. With zombie games, no matter how many we receive, I’ll play them all regardless of seeking out reviews. Dead Rising remains one of my favourite zombie game franchises, but it wasn’t the zombie game we have all wanted. The survival zombie game we all crave has only really just been introduced with Day Z, yet that is only on PC. State of Decay is the survival zombie we’ve all been waiting for. Available on Xbox 360 and later to be released on PC, State of Decay puts you in the middle of an open world ravaged by zombies, with your main goal, to survive day by day.

State of Decay is the first game from Undead Labs, and by god do they impress. From the first few hours with the game everything is looking very promising. Having an open world to explore and survive in is what we have always wanted in zombie games. The world feels lived in, yet torn apart by the apocalypse. You start the game by returning from a 2 week-long trip with your friend. Upon returning your attacked by zombies and from there you find survivors and slowly learn what has happened in the 2 weeks you’ve been away.

Imagine yourself holding off a horde attack from the house.

The game revolves around survival, gathering food, ammo, medical and building supplies to help grow and protect your community of survivors. Keeping them happy and healthy is the key to success from what I’ve seen so far. Fractures can develop between people and at times you’ll be task to take people out with you to talk to them about the problems they may be causing within the group. Everyone you encounter can become your friend, and the more friends you have the better. This is because when you die, your character is dead for good and you will switch to one of their friends. All that levelling up you’ve done with the character, the bond you’ve developed, all gone and ripped apart if they fall victim to the zombies. You will be switching between friends regards of you dying anyway as your characters will need rest, so when they do, you should switch and take someone else out.

You can also use these friends you gain and survivors you choose to save to help upgrade your home base. Improving the food, helping with training people or even just being a good shot helping guard the base from the watchtower. The people you meet are just as important to your survival as you are. When out in the world searching through abandoned homes for supplies, if you come across more than you can carry, then radio your base and send out someone to pick up the rest of the supplies. Of course this is all risk and reward, you could just drop off the supplies you have and come back, but then it’s much faster sending someone out to help but they run the risk of getting attacked by zombies on the way.

The zombies in the game shamble around at first, but once they have spotted you or heard you, then they run straight at you. Usually in zombie games, I would welcome a large group of zombies to tear through, but in State of Decay, taking on more than one is always a risk. Melee weapons and firearms are your main zombie killing tools. With melee, much less noise is made, but weapons can break and they’re horrible for crowd control. Firearms on the other hand can take out a small group with well placed headshots, but make a lot of noise, which can attract more zombies than you may have bullets for. Each gun in the game can take different types of ammo, so having the right kind of bullets for the gun you’ve just found is an intense feeling. Tip: Raid the gun shop as soon as possible!

In your inventory (upgradable by the size of the bag your carrying), you also have access to consumables, from painkillers to snacks, these will fill your health and stamina bar back up. You also can carry objects to distract zombies and even kill them with the likes of homemade Molotov Cocktails and mines. This being an open world game, there’s plenty of cars to drive around too. Cars can deteriorate over too much running over of the dead, as much fun as it is. Also, this seems like a truly consistent open world too. Houses I’ve fully emptied out don’t respawn more supplies and cars, once damaged, don’t heal or respawn either. Maybe this will change once you’re a far enough distance from the location it may reset when you revisit it later. So far though, that hasn’t happened and I hope it doesn’t, it adds to the survival aspect of the game.

Driving is made more fun when your car is covered in zombies!

Driving is made more fun when your car is covered in zombies!

Even with being a few hours into the game, I’ve not touched the story very much. Not that it’s bad, in fact, learning more about the early days of the infection is very interesting and I can’t wait to see what’s in store later down the line. But with so much to do, so many people to save, so many houses to explore and raid, there’s always something for you to do. Early insight into the story though has me interested in what’s to come, and that can only be a good thing. The game is also quite good-looking too. Whilst not on par with a lot of major releases, it’s still nice to look at for a cheaper, smaller release.

State of Decay is a fantastic game so far, giving off every impression that it can only get better. The developers, Undead Labs have said this game is very much the foundation of an open world survival zombie MMO. Depending on the success of this game, we may get that game in the future. They do deserve every single sale this game receives, and if you have yourself an Xbox 360, I recommend picking this game up as soon as you get the chance. It does fall into the premium side of the Xbox Live Arcade price point, at 1600 Microsoft Points. But very much like Minecraft before it, it’s definitely deserving of the higher price point.

-ast

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Being a Tease – My Untitled Book

Yeah, I have a book. Is it published? Nope, it isn’t even finished. This is something I started a couple years ago, writing it on my iPod Touch of all things. For no reason other than a lack of motivation it had been put on hold for over a year. The thing is, this book has gone through a lot of different drafts and restarts, due to personal changes in life. However at the start of this year, I opened up the document and read it through again. It was at this point that I knew exactly what I wanted to do with what I had. Since then, progress has been slow, but at least I now know what I want this book to be.

So to celebrate this little event, I wanted to post my opening to my book. It’s brief, but helps you understand what your about to read as well as giving you motivation to read on. The book itself is written in first person, with each section of the book being a different genre set against the backdrop of a viral outbreak. The first and largest section is almost finished and is the romantic part of the book. The other two are still TBD. Without further delay, enjoy:

The year was 2030 and the world fell apart like the rotting corpses it fell victim to. In today’s world we know not of what happened in 2030, no records exist. Or do they? After coming across what I have found you will soon believe that 2030 was not the year to just simply forget. It’s the year we, mankind, almost died.

A year ago I came across a discovery, this discovery would lead to untold amounts of research. I had found 3 diaries contained within a box, buried deep in the earth near what is now known as Watchfield, but was once known as Woodsmith. These detailed what really happened in 2030 to a few individuals, the horrors they had to face and what the government did to erase their own horrific actions. Why should you trust me and believe that what your about to read is real? You can’t. However I trust you to at least read it first, everything is unedited and in it’s original form. Nothing has been removed, other than some pages that were unreadable. I warn you, it can get quite graphic.

First is the diary of Jennifer West. I’ve been unable to find any evidence of a woman named Jennifer West alive during that time. Given the lack of any detailed information from 2030 though, it doesn’t surprise me.

The second diary belongs to a Major-General Bill Reading. Thankfully I was able to find records of Major-General Bill Reading in classified British Military documents. They detailed all his operations before 2030 and interestingly enough labelled him KIA (Killed in Action) in 2028, yet the entries contained within his diary are from 2030. I have not been able to make any sense of this, all my digging ends in 2028 when he was confirmed dead in an explosion in Scotland. Maybe the Government have a hand in this?

Finally the last diary was written by Ellie Shaw. Believe or not, she is actually still alive today. I have no idea where she is but she’s out there, hiding most likely. If my sources are correct then she would had to have been about 18 to 20 years old during 2030. Maybe this book will help her come forward and confess about what happened in person.

So if you are reading this and it has made it out into the world then it may not spell a bright future for me. For knowing what I know on what happened in 2030, I may be already dead. However if everyone knows the real story then the government has no way of containing the truth any more. To all of you, go and discover the truth. Thank you for your support in picking this book up and learning the truth.

– Dr. Ryan Brown

So there you have it, hope that was interesting enough for you. As for when will the book be finished? Well, I wish I had an answer for you. I’d love to have it done this year, so we’ll see if I can really push myself to do it. Thank you for reading.

-ast