I’ve been playing a lot of Killing Floor recently, and I like it quite a lot. It’s not perfect though, and while undoubtedly loads of fun it makes a few stupid mistakes that I think make it deserve its 70% metacritic rating.
The best way I can describe Killing Floor to someone who hasn’t played it would be ‘the B movie underbelly of Left 4 Dead’. It’s an FPS with zombies meant to be played co-op. Where L4D limits you to 4 people though Killing Floor allows 6 (actually limitless with a bit of jiggery pokery), and that’s the end of the comparison I’m going to make between these two games as it’s entirely unfair – they are completely different..ish.
Killing Floor is purely a defence game. Hordes of Zombies come shambling/running/crawling towards you no matter where you are. You basically fight off waves – each wave progressively harder than the last in typical game fashion. In the top
left right corner is a counter showing how many zombies are left in the current wave – your sole goal is to survive until that counter reaches 0 every round. When it does hit 0 a trader will appear allowing you to go buy weapons, ammo and body armour. The really clever thing about The Trader is that she spawns in a different place each round and is only open for 1 minute. What this means is that you will probably have to fight your way towards her so you have enough time to make your purchases at the round end.
Whether a game like this is any good or not really depends on the zombies you’re actually fighting and here there are lots and are all quite different. There is the Normal Thing, the Slicey Man, Spider Bastards, Boomer Clone, Invisible Women, Chainsaw Butcher, Screechy Horrible, and Big Angry Poundey. I really like them all and they do make for varied battles, which makes it fun. Plus a lot of them are genuinely scary – Screechy Horrible especially; she’s the one that keeps me awake at night with her black eyes and torturous scream. There is however one more zombie – The Patriarch aka The Boss Zombie, coming after you after you finish the last round. He has a chain gun and rocket launcher for arms, can turn invisible plus can re gen his health. Basically, I hate it. I don’t enjoy fighting it, I wish it wasn’t in the game. It’s just rubbish.
The Patriarch is a fine example of a design choice that you know a team of Valves calibre would have fixed and this is basically the tone of the whole thing. Unpolished. Things that with just a bit more time, thought, spit and polish, would have made for a much better experience. Garish red text fills your screen in Arial font when a round is over. Horrible cockney voice acting with various mentions of “guv’nor” and “blowing the bloody doors off” clangs every time I hear it. Netcode that doesn’t work properly on extremely common hardware*. Doors not working properly. Rigid player animations in third person mode. All issues that could be fixed, or just made a bit better, if a ‘proper’ dev team had it.
There are various problems with Killing Floor, and some make it difficult for me to recommend, but I can recommend it. Look at those screenshots for gods sake – there are zombies, guns, explosions and flamethrowers. It’s a game that unapologetically plays heavy metal as you kill hordes of monsters. It’s a game where heads explode in slow motion when you shoot them with the smallest of guns. It’s a game that’s an immense amount of fun, especially when people are actually working in a team. It’s not perfect, but it’s still getting patched and is only £15, and that’s a £15 that is well worth spending.
* Thompson routers barely work for a start (which basically means BT home hubs and o2/be boxes). They make for various problems which are well documented on the forums. Tripwire know about the issues, but are blaming the router vendors instead of fixing it; this not only extremely pisses me off, it means that I’m not buying any DLC out of silent protest until it’s fixed.