Author Topic: [Video Game] State of Decay (PC/Steam)  (Read 1380 times)

MiniVanMan

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[Video Game] State of Decay (PC/Steam)
« on: January 03, 2014, 11:10:02 PM »
It was close. VERY close. Yet, State of Decay just isn't QUITE the perfect zombie came. Seriously though, it's extremely close... unfortunately, there are too many problems that hold it back from true supremacy.

State of Decay aims to be the zombie apocalypse game that everyone has always wanted - an open world sandbox where you must manage resources, shelter, people and zombies in order to simply survive.

You don't play as one single character (well, unless you WANT to), you can control many different characters. Individual narrative is at a minimum and you can use any character on any mission, but most of the characters at least have distinctive personalities to some extent that they don't feel entirely like empty vessels. Each character can be "leveled up" in numerous areas such as stamina, strength, proficiency with weapons, etc, and they can also specialize in particular areas.

What makes this mechanic important is that if when a character dies, they stay dead. Forever. There's no respawn, there's no reload. The game saves after the death and all that remains of them are whatever supplies they had on them at the time of death, which can be collected by another character. Everyone will have their favorite, but it's wise to try and improve multiple characters, just in case.

This mechanic gives game play a true sense of intensity, dread and downright terror. Since you actually have something to lose (that CANNOT simply be brought back by reloading a previous save, mind you), every encounter with a zombie could be that character's last. Make too much noise while looting a garage and you could find yourself fighting through more zombies than you are prepared to handle, either leading to a harrowing escape or a gruesome death. You are NOT a super powered character, you are equally as vulnerable as anyone else in the game world and directly engaging hordes of zombies in combat is suicide, plain and simple.

Another clever mechanic is "influence", which is used as a form of game-currency or perhaps skill points. Influence is raised by doing things for the good of the group, such as collecting supplies, bringing in more people, killing zombie hordes nearby, etc. Find a gun, put it in the stockpile, earn influence. Want to use that gun? Take it back out of the stock pile for the cost of influence. This balances the game beautifully since you can't simply take the best allies with you on trips stocked with the best hardware, AND it makes sense within the context of the narrative as the group won't want some worthless freeloader taking off with the best guns and all of the medicine.

Almost every building can be entered and pillaged, but you can only carry precious few items in your back pack as well as one bulk-loot rucksack for bulk supplies, forcing you to make multiple trips to completely clean out most of the larger buildings. This is understandable yet somewhat frustrating in that you can't simply load up your vehicle with supplies and haul it all back. That would be the logical thing to do, but alas, you cannot.

And here is where the problems start ruining the fun a bit.

Cars play a big role. They're used to travel quickly and offer much needed protection. BUT, the faster the car, the louder the engine, and the more attention it draws from zombies, so choose wisely. The crew cab pick up truck is easily the best vehicle in the game, being 4 wheel drive, quiet, and very durable with decent speed, but collecting a fleet of them can be difficult since there's no option to have another character drive a vehicle back to your base.

The vehicle physics are terrible. The cars are just hard to drive. They don't handle logically so you can forget making tight maneuvers. Hitting a bump can send them sailing through the air, and if the car goes upside down at any point, your character is automatically ejected from it. Oh, and by sailing through the air, i don't mean getting a bit airborne... i mean, 20-50ft off of the ground, out of control, because you ran over a small rock while going too fast. Damaged vehicles can be repaired if you have a workshop built onto your home base, but only up to a certain point.

To enter a vehicle, you have to be directly beside the door, and even then sometimes the action doesn't register, which is INFURIATING when trying to escape before zombies get a hold of you. Even more frustrating is when you're with an AI controlled character, who rarely seem to be in any hurry to enter the vehicle despite the swarm of undead quickly surrounding you. I had to rescue a character from a besieged house once and after i killed the zombies to free her, I got in my truck and waited for her to enter while zombies approached from all directions (drawn in by my gunfire). She kept trying and failing to vault the porch railing, but would not turn around and use the stairs... less than a foot away. With zombies encircling us I had to nearly wreck my truck running them all down and then park on the stairs so her path finding would reset and she'd climb in the back of the truck. Ugh.

Character control is very clunky. 3rd person character control is always tricky, but in a game where you have so much to lose at any point in time, it's ESSENTIAL that you give the player forgiving control. NPC's can block doorways preventing urgent escape, which can get you killed. You can climb 10ft high walls but can't jump over store counters. Climbing ladders requires you have a perfect approach angle, and I already mentioned the trouble entering vehicles.

Combat is equally as frustrating. Guns aren't completely useless, but since a head shot is the only reliable way to kill a zombie, the time it takes to aim and line up a head shot on the erratic-moving bastards is just not worth it when a few swipes with your bladed melee weapon can take care of the problem. Guns are really only a smart option when equipped with a suppressor and when being used from a distance. Otherwise, they're a spray-and-pray sort of panic device and nothing more.

Melee combat isn't a whole lot better. You lock onto your most imminent threat, but like in every game that's every included such a mechanic, its judgement is questionable. I'm not sure why it sometimes thinks I want to attack the zombie 5ft away from me facing the wall when there's one mere inches from chewing on my neck.

The stealth element is sketchy as well. Everything you do creates sound which is visible on the radar as sort of a sonar blip. The larger the circle, the more sound you're making. So, you'll want to walk slowly through houses and carefully, slowly loot so you don't make a lot of noise, as the game instructs... yet, even though no zombies witnessed me enter a building, and I'm not making ANY noise, somehow I always end up being forced to run through the front door or jump through a window. There are no easy scores. Ever.

Zombies also rely on line of sight if they can't hear you. Although the game instructs that their vision is poor, I've not found that to be the case. Even when I'm hiding in a bush, as the game instructs if you want to hide from zombies, if they're looking in my general direction, they almost always spot me and make their way toward me - even from a hundred yards away.

I'm pretty sure that the stealth mechanic is just plain broken and does not work as intended. There's also the ability to stealth-kill zombies by sneaking up behind them and using the "take down" key, but that only works when it wants to.

All of the pieces are in place that would make State of Decay the hands-down greatest zombie game of all time, but the many technical shortcomings really hold back the experience. It's right there just desperately trying to break through the surface, and if you squint really hard you can almost feel it - the euphoria of the most incredible, excellent zombie apocalypse game of all time, but the unfortunate reality is that the game has a lot of problems and kinks that need to be worked out before it can truly achieve what it set out to do.

If they listen to player feedback and have the skill to correct the issues... State of Decay 2 WILL be that game.

Until then... give it a try and you'll enjoy it and probably keep coming back for more, but you'll also find yourself getting frustrated at the things that hold the game back from what it could have been.

7/10
« Last Edit: January 04, 2014, 11:45:38 AM by 00XJ »

jeepidude

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Re: [Video Game] State of Decay (PC/Steam)
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2014, 11:04:34 AM »
I feel mostly the same way, the game came really close to being great but there are too many glaring issues to make it truly enjoyable... I prefer DayZ over it, as buggy as it is in comparison.