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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Tripwire Interactive

 

Developer

Tripwire Interactive

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Sept. 15, 2009 (Retail)

May 14, 2009 (Steam)

 

 

- Great character designs

- Solid map layouts

- Faster "tactical" playstyle

- Deep gameplay through customization

 

 

- Reaching "trader safe zone" problematic on large maps

- Dull color palette

- Less-than-optimal use of the Unreal engine

- Sound and music feels uninspired

 

 

Review: Left 4 Dead (360)

Review: Painkiller: Battle Out of Hell (PC)

Review: Dead Rising (360)

 

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Killing Floor

Score: 7.5 / 10

 

killing floor          killing floor

 

While some folks are licking their chops for Valve's upcoming Left 4 Dead 2, others are enjoying a different flavor of co-op zombie apocalypse right now.  What started off as a mod for Unreal Tournament 2K4 has evolved into a fully realized and pretty good game presented to us by Tripwire Interactive, themselves no strangers to Unreal mods (they were the team responsible for the winning entry in the "Make Something Unreal" contest with their Red Orchestra mod).  Naturally, a game like this is going to draw comparisons to the already established Left 4 Dead.  As I've

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come to find out, there's plenty of room for both games in the hearts of zombie hunting gamers everywhere.

 

Visually, Killing Floor is good but seems to be lacking some fine details.  The character models are well done and creepy as hell when it comes to the variety of ghastly ghouls coming to feast on your flesh.  The blood is copious almost to the

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point of omnipresence.  Weapons are well modeled but a little flat when it comes to the textures, a sort of overall matte finish to everything which makes things feel a bit off-kilter visually.  If there's any one big complaint I have with the visuals on Killing Floor, it's that the palette tends too much to dark and muted colors.  While I can certainly understand the reasoning behind it as far as the premise of the game, it tends to bore the eyes after a while.  The game makes use of the Unreal engine, not surprising given it's history, but I don't think it takes full advantage of the engine's capabilities.

 

The audio in Killing Floor is solid but again doesn't seem to quite inspire.  Weapon sounds are nicely done but seem to lack some authority when getting into the bigger weapons.  The music is something of a stumbling block, trying by turns to either be creepy or tense and not managing to do either one particularly well.  The sound effects for the shambling hordes that you must dispatch in each wave are good but not truly outstanding.  As for the small amount of voice work done by the one friendly NPC in the game, and the smart remarks that occasionally pop out from your own alter ego, the sound is clean but the spirit is somewhat lacking emotionally.

 

Where Killing Floor really hits the mark is in terms of gameplay.  Because it is a shooter, and because it is dealing with zombies, or the zombie-esque byproducts of a botched job by a faceless multinational not entirely dissimilar to Umbrella Corporation, the comparisons to both Left 4 Dead and the Resident Evil series are inevitable.

 

killing floor          killing floor

 

In some ways, Killing Floor improves on both games, though the improvements from Left 4 Dead are more noticeable.  The teams are larger, the array of weaponry is broader, and there's more flexibility in the roles that a player can adopt during a game.  While L4D has a very cinematic feel to it, KF feels a little more like a tactical shooter.  The ability to control your environment by welding doors shut and the options for building ranks in certain character classes defined as "perks" allow players a level of customization not possible in L4D.  While it is possible to play solo in the game, and probably will be almost required if you want to build up that first rank or so in any of the perks, expect to get cut down brutally and often.

 

Map memorization is a critical component.  Otherwise, you're likely to end up getting swarmed to death, to say nothing of taking out the big bad Patriarch boss at the end of each map.  The "head money" that you pick up for killing off various examples of mutated nastiness can be put towards purchasing upgraded weapons and gear from a friendly trader, another customization element that L4D seemingly lacks.  However, the fact that the trader is on a timer, and might be a considerable distance away from your position when you kill the last zombie in a given wave, makes for a sometimes frustrating experience.  In this, KF stumbles a bit when stacked up to L4D.  On very small maps, it's not so much of an issue, but on large maps, it's a problem.  Adjusting the timer to fit the scale of the map might be a viable change.  A blanket 60 seconds sounds fair on paper, but doesn't always work out that way in practice.

 

For those of you looking to train hard for the zombie apocalypse long predicted by Max Brooks, and not have to deal with any silly cinematic conventions doing so, Killing Floor might very well be the sort of thing you need to sharpen your training regimen.

 

- Axel Cushing

(October 15, 2009)

 

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