This is a somewhat special review, in terms of format; Slappy and I both wrote this as a kind of joint critique of Tripwire Interactive’s new game Killing Floor. Enjoy.
SlappyBag: Okay, so we’ve been playing the newly released Killing Floor for the last few days, what the hell do we think?
ad_hominem: OK, well obviously – this game coming from mod roots – we weren’t expecting the level of polish Valve placed on Left 4 Dead, which is good because we didn’t get it. In terms of presentation, the game very much still feels like a mod. This isn’t necessarily a hugely bad thing, but once you start paying for games it’s reasonable to expect an increase in quality. Especially when we’re looking at a game from the guys who brought us the brilliant Red Orchestra.
SlappyBag: Definitely, my first impressions were somewhat disappointing, largely due to the fact that its the child of the brilliantly produced Red Orchestra. Granted, its only £10 though that is on a discount but I can’t help shake the feeling that its a mod. I’m not sure I’d hand over the £10 if it were in cash at a store.
ad_hominem: Anyway, not people to judge a game solely on how it presents itself to us, we’ve given the entire thing a run through to the extent that we feel we’ve seen pretty much everything the game has to offer. If you are one to look at a game’s presentation before anything else, this may not be the game for you. Even we might be somewhat affected by the almost flawless example of design that Left 4 Dead presents us with, but nonetheless the game feels messy around the edges. Sometimes, the game looks and feels like a game from the guys who made Red Orchestra, at others it feels like an accomplished mod from a first-released-game kind of team. So, while the feeling you get from the overall game is a little messy at times, there are places where the game truly shines.
SlappyBag: Totally agreed, the moments when you are trying to funnel a number of zombies into the right hallway so you can let loose, and then the moment everything goes wrong and the zombies break down your flanking doors in a ball of dust and smoke end up being extremely fun. When a team comes together to try and beat that last wave and with your men falling down around you, yet you still manage to battle through to the end is very satisfying. That being said I still don’t know what my view really is of it, I think the idea has a lot of potential to do well but Killing Floor is very rough and I find it ends up being a short break filler more than anything.
ad_hominem: Definitely. If you look at this game as the next Left 4 Dead to fill up your time, you’ll almost definitely come away disappointed. It has neither the polish or the staying power to achieve that. What it is, is a cheap and dirty shooter which has fairly frequent flashes of brilliance in amidst stuff we’ve all seen before. For example, we’ve all seen slow motion used in games before, but rarely in multiplayer games. For Killing Floor, it works in such a setting because you and your team are generally all in one place – where the action is. This is important because with slow motion in multiplayer games when you slow down, everyone slows down. As a result, if you’re at a place where nobody else is and you suddenly go in slow motion, the most exciting thing to happen will be that you get to look dramatically at a wall for a couple of seconds. However, the teamplay in Killing Floor means that if you’re going to survival at all long, you need to stick together, and if you’re sticking together, the action will always be nearby.
SlappyBag: Very true, I think the slow motion, the welding of doors and the purchasing of weapons and perks are the defining elements of Killing Floor. They help to push it in a direction other cooperative games haven’t tread. The basic horde type mode of increasing waves of enemies has been done to death but those additions allow some tactical choices and badass slow-mo feedback with heads-a-popping. Killing Floor also doesn’t take itself completely seriously with the hilarious British voice overs and over the top classic horror inspired zombies.
That seems to be the extent of it though, hitboxes and movement are a bit clunky and the application of some of the tactical abilities are a bit limited in their scope. One of the things which it doesn’t do is really require your teammates for anything except fire power. I could easily bring up the comparison of the way Left 4 Dead did things in that sense but I won’t, although I just did. There doesn’t really seem to be much variance in the action because of this, you tend to be shooting down a corridor or into a field and then once they get too close you are boned.
ad_hominem: Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. What I feel this game desperately needs (apart from a better server selection screen) is enemies that require you to think about how you want to take them down. In Killing Floor all enemies have the same weakness – they have an aversion to bullets. And that’s it. Sure, some of them come at you faster than others, and some of them can shoot back, but ultimately, all you do to defeat them is point and click enough times until they stop walking towards you. That said, the gameplay is extremely fun when you catch it just right. It’s a lot more reminiscent of games such as Doom or Quake than Left 4 Dead, and I think it benefits from this difference – it could never compete directly with Left 4 Dead, so instead it’s going for the fun, over-the-top action that is perhaps what makes it feel so alien to people who played Red Orchestra.
SlappyBag: It isn’t fair by any standards to directly compare it to Left 4 Dead, its co-op and zombies and those are the only similarities. Some people will absolutely love it, it carries a bit of nostalgia about it and even though we can say that its a bit rough edged and mod-like, I do still find myself hovering my mouse over the Killing Floor shortcut, even if its only to play once more to hope there is some extra depth.
Is it worth the current £15 on Steam? Personally I don’t think so, especially for somebody who hasn’t really got that money to chance on a “marmite” game. Its up to the readers if it is now.
ad_hominem: I’d have to agree. £15 for this game is too much unless you know you’re going to enjoy it. However, if you have some good friends and can find a decent server, Killing Floor can be just as much fun as any multiplayer game out there. It’s not the prettiest game in the world, and sometimes you feel as if there could have been a bit added here and there, so I feel for over £10 it’s just asking too much. There are those people who will pick it up and love it, but I have a feeling it won’t be anywhere near as many people as buy it.