Platform: Xbox 360 (Xbox Live Arcade)
Price: 1600 MS Points
Reviewed by: Darryl Linington
Over the past few years, quite a few video games have focused on the rehashed “impending zombie apocalypse” vibe. Granted, some of these games were fantastic to play; however, some are so bad that the walking dead themselves would probably pass them by without even considering taking a bite out of them. Available on Xbox Live for 1600 Microsoft Points, State of Decay is Undead Labs’ attempt at giving us the zombie game we have all been longing for, but have never received. So, has Undead Labs achieved something that others have longed to create? Or should State of Decay be fed to The Walking Dead and have its remains buried on a Dead Island? Well, let’s find out!
Returning from their annual hunting trip, Marcus and his friend Ed find out that the world they know and love has changed… So much so that the dead now walk, humans are walking Happy Meals and surviving the mother of all zombie outbreaks is just the beginning. Yip, life as they know it has gone to hell. However, instead of crying in the corner, Marcus realises that in order to survive he not only has to save himself, but also has to try his damned hardest to save those around him.
You see, what makes State of Decay more captivating than the other zombie-based titles is that fact that survival is key. Not only will you have to look after Marcus, but you will have to build and supply an entire community in order to survive. Doing this is a bit of a challenge in itself as you will need to perform dangerous supply runs, search for weapons and ammunition as well as fortify your home base. Furthermore, you have to keep your community’s morale up as well as recruit new survivors into the group. It is all very well thought out and Undead Labs should be applauded for their efforts when it comes to this title.
While I did mention that the game starts off with Marcus, you can switch between various survivors. You see, much like a real human being, the characters within State of Decay become tired and strained, which ultimately affects their overall performance. So switching characters will not only provide a fresh face, but also allows for your chosen survivors to get some much needed rest. This is where things get interesting as resting survivors can be prone to zombie attacks. Furthermore, once a character is dead they stay that way… no respawns, no revival and no magical fairy to bring them back. I will admit that losing a character to zombie attack can be somewhat of a downer, especially if you have put in quite a few hours into them levelling up.
Apart from losing a few survivors along the way, you will also need to take care of your weapons and equipment. You see, weapons degrade every time you use them, which will result in either you having to replace or repair them. Additionally, there are many vehicles scattered throughout the world that can be used. However, they too take damage, and while it is fun to go all Carmaggedon on a horde of zombies, it is not entirely pleasant being far away from your base camp without a ride.
Something that really caught my attention while reviewing State of Decay is the fact that you need to try and be as stealthy as possible. You see, zombies are attracted by sound, which means that anything from gunshots to blowing the hooter on a car will send a flood of them towards you. It is this type of gameplay that makes State of Decay a brilliant title to experience.
State of Decay also features an influence system which acts as currency as well. So for example, if you take items out of the supply locker of your home base you will then spend influence points; however; for every weapon or item you place within the locker you will then earn influence. This allows for a great deal of balance throughout the game as you are not just trying to survive with one character, but also trying to help a community survive as well.
Graphically, State of Decay has quite a few issues that need to be resolved. In many areas texture pop is guaranteed and the frame rate tends to struggle on start-up. Furthermore, zombies and survivors tend to clip through walls, doors and anything else that should theoretically be solid. While these issues are not entirely game breaking they are very noticeable and could definitely use a patch or two. Apart from that, the open-world featured within State of Decay is rather beautiful. I especially liked the fact that most buildings and houses featured throughout the game could be entered and did not just serve as graphical fillers. Furthermore, the audio featured throughout State of Decay compliments this title in every aspect.
It seems that Undead Labs has finally given this generation the zombie title we deserve. Granted, it is a zombie title with various graphical glitches, but it is still an attempt that needs to be applauded. If anything, I would have to say that State of Decay kind of reminds me of the first 3D Grand Theft Auto titles; however, instead of working for the mob or running over pedestrians, you are now trying to survive in a world that does not want you to. This kind of atmosphere makes State of Decay well worth playing!
While State of Decay is a single player title, Undead Labs has already stated that if the game is successful, it hopes to follow it up with a massively multiplayer online sequel, codenamed “Class4.” Let’s hope that this indeed happens as I doubt we will be disappointed.
Lasting appeal: 9/10
Reviewed on the Xbox 360.