Category Archives: Little Bits of Gaming Main Menu

He’s Back – Part Man, Part Machine, All Sequel

There is a trend going on in Hollywood right now where an older movie franchise is being revitalised with all new sequels that ignore the previous entries in the franchise, the sequels are also bringing back some of the original cast and crew. Later this year, we will see a new Halloween flick that will be a direct sequel to the 1978 original to celebrate the 40th anniversary and ignore all the sequels in the series. This new Halloween will see the return of not only Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode but John Carpenter is also back as producer and will also recreate the iconic music.

Halloween

Then there is Terminator due out next year. Again, ignoring the sequels and this will be the “real” Terminator 3. Of course Arnie is back as the T-800 but the film will also see Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, plus James Cameron is on board as producer. But there is another film getting the same treatment, one of my all time favorite action/sci-fi flicks in fact. Robocop is coming back to the big screen.

As of right now, details are a hard to find but the title seems to be Robocop Returns and will be a direct sequel to the 1987 original. The writers of the original film, Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner have written the sequel but it is being touched up by Justin Rhodes. And for those not in the know, Rhodes is the person who wrote the screenplay for the new Terminator flick that is currently being filmed. Robocop Returns is set to be directed by Neill Blomkamp who’s directing credits include District 9 and Elysium.

Robocop

Nothing has been said about the cast yet, but it would be great to see the likes of Peter Weller and Nancy Allen return as Alex J. Murphy/Robocop and Anne Lewis respectively. Also just to repeat, Robocop Returns screenplay is being written by the same person behind the new Terminator sequel…

Terminator v Robocop

Robocop and Terminator have had a bit of a history in comics and games over the years but never made it to the big screen. Plus shared universes are all the rage right now. Using the same writer for both Robocop Returns and the new Terminator sequels can’t be coincidence can it?

We could be witnessing the build up to one of the most eagerly awaited cyborg battles ever.

Advertisements

My Article About Boobies In Games

Pre-warning, there will be an overuse of breast slang used in this article for comedic purposes.

Now – I’m not one for click-bait articles, I detest that shit. Luring people in with a catchy, eye seducing headline only to be met with an article that really has nothing to do with what was promised. With me, you get what the headline says – I’m writing an article about boobies in games. There is a point to all of this, I’m not just some sad, pathetic, basement dwelling loner desperate to gaze a polygons in the shape of a lovely pair of jubblies. I mean, I’m in a relationship with one of them real life women things – she got some of them lady bumps…and a wazzo pair they are too, so I have access to actual, real life tatas whenever I like. Wait a second, why am I trying to justify myself to you – you’re the one who clicked on an article about computer generated honkers?

Gaming boobs

Anyway, the point I want to make will have to wait until the end. First, a brief history of video game gazangas.

I think my first introduction to video game fun bags was back in 1987. There was this game called Game Over released for the popular microcomputers of the day. Graphically, it was nothing to shout about and most definitely didn’t feature any 8-bit Bristols or if it did then you couldn’t really make them out given the lack of fidelity and the limitations of the graphics back then. I mean, the game looked like this…

Game Over Screen

Phwoah! Hey fellas, look at the pixels on that. Oh no, it wasn’t the actual game where the titillation came from but the artwork for the game. The original game cover and even the initial ads in the gaming press at the time raised more than a few eyebrows back in the day.

Game Over.jpg

Sneaking out from the female’s bra…that’s a nipple right there. Remember this was back in 87 and slapped on the cover of a game that would’ve been on display in a shop…a nipple. Yes there was a slight outrage and the offending starter button was eventually censored – covered up by in-game pictures, company logos and the like. Still even post-censorship, there was still some concern over the areola despite the fact it couldn’t be seen. So another, even more censored version of the artwork was released which replaced the female’s skimpy bra/corset with a much more modest version.

Game Over cesnored.jpg

While Game Over is the one that sticks in my mind for that era, it was still only the artwork and not the game itself that featured digital jiggers. There was another game before it that was a tad more risque – 1986’s  Samantha Fox Strip Poker. For those not in the know, Sam Fox was a topless model doing the rounds in the 80s and she was huge…in more ways than one. Her ample bosom made her a big star and getting her baps out in the newspaper was only the start as she also had a music career…if you could call the stuff she churned out “music”. So of course the fact Sam was so utterly popular meant she had to also have her own game and the kind of game a glamour model would be in was hardly going to be a kid friendly platformer was it? So strip poker it is then that featured actual (badly digitized graphics) nudity if you could beat Sam at cards.

Sam Fox Strip Poker

Oh and before anyone jumps in, yes I’m fully aware that there were more adult games with pixeled-perkies before Samantha Fox Strip Poker from 86. I mean, there was a whole slew of Atari 2600 porn games (one of the many articles in my backlog). But I can’t keep going back in time to get to the point of this article, I need to move forward. So I think I need to mention perhaps the most famous pair of fun-cushions in the history of gaming.

Lara Croft Evo

We were first introduced to Lara Croft with her incredibly pointy and large love apples back in 1996 with the release of the first Tomb Raider game. A franchise that has endured to this day with the all new Shadow of the Tomb Raider set to be released in September this year. As the graphical capabilities of the gaming machines have evolved since 96, so has Lara (and her marshmallows) along with them. Lara became a sexual and cultural icon through the 90s and you would often find her on the cover of the lads mags, in TV ads, on posters and so much more. She may not have been the first, but she was most definitely the biggest female gaming character. As the years have rolled by, her sexuality has been dialed back and her bawagos has grown smaller (and much less pointy) in an attempt to make her less of a sex icon and more of a genuine character.

Lara Croft Then and Now

There have been plenty of gaming sex bombs with big, bountiful bubatoes over the years, but there is one gaming genre in particular where you’ll find the biggest selection of gaming gedoinkers and that would be in the fighting genre. I think you can go back to the original release of Street Fighter II: The World Warrior when we were first introduced to thunder thighs herself, Chun-Li. Her impressive thighs were only matched by her bust size that was shown off by the animators/artists of the game at every opportunity. Her breathing animation showed her heaving airbags as for her jumping celebration when she won a fight! Have you seen what she looks like in Street Fighter V?

Chun Li Street Fighter V

Pick up any fighting game from 1991 onward and I bet the female characters all sport impressive racks and highly sexualised costumes. I’m not saying this is a bad thing at all – in fact this segues nicely into the point I said I wanted to make at the very start of this article. So if I were to say to any gamer to name a fighting game with breasts, there should be one franchise in particular that springs instantly to mind…

Dead or ALive Logo

The Dead or Alive series of games are the undisputed king of video game towel racks. The women in these games have some of the most absurdly amazing mammaries you’ll ever see and its not just the size but the addition of what is lovingly known as “jiggle physics”. Yeah the rolling hills featured in the Dead or Alive franchise are not only plentiful but they have some of the most eye watering movement you’ll see outside of a porn film. The wobbling wabs have become so infamous that they are now considered part of the DNA of the entire franchise. If you seriously need proof of just how overtly sexualised the females are in this series of games, then you just need to check out the Dead or Alive Xtreme spin-offs.

Dead or ALive Xtreme

Anyway, the point I’ve been trying to make comes from the fact that the latest game in the franchise, Dead or Alive 6 is said to be toning down the female sexualisation compared to previous games in the series. Gone are the skimpy and sexy costumes to be replaced with more realistic and practical ensembles. The fan favorite jiggly jugs are also set to be stripped back. The dialing back of the more sexual elements are being replaced with more realistic violence. The fighters will now sweat as they punch and kick each other in the face, bruises and other markings will begin to appear, and there will be the inclusion of realistic blood effects.

So what is my point? Well now I’m writing this, two points have entered my mind. The first is why is sexualisation considered such a taboo but violence is given a free pass? Wobbly watermelons is a big no – but blood and breaking bones gets a big thumbs up. I guess in the context of the type of game Dead or Alive 6 will be, it being a fighting game and all, that yes violence is more acceptable. But its not just the Dead or Alive series that thinks sex is bad but violence is good. If you do a quick interwebs search, you’ll find plenty of stories about sex vs violence in video games and how death, murder, etc pretty much raise no eyebrows yet show a little flesh and all hell breaks loose.

Dead or ALive 6

My second point only just popped into my head as I was writing. Note how its the female sexualisation that is being toned down…what about the males? You’ve seen these fighting games, yeah the women tend to wear little and revealing clothing – but have you seen the guys? Quite often depicted with their guns on full display and pectorals bigger then Kanye West’s ego. Plus they are also often shown to be topless…but that’s okay is it?

I suppose one could argue that its mainly men that would be playing Dead or Alive 6 so it stands to reason that the female sexuality would be toned down over the males due to the player base…I guess no gay males play it then? But here’s an interesting tit-bit – the player base for the Dead or Alive franchise is surprisingly mainly female. There is even a pro-player scene that is dominated by female players. Yes, the overly female sexualised Dead or Alive franchise has more female fans than male.

Dead or ALive 6 Girls

From a personal perspective, I couldn’t care less what they do to the Dead or Alive series. Give the ladies bigger and bouncier meat puppets or don’t. I don’t care as I’m not much of a fan of the fighting genre of games. For me, this genre peaked with Street Fighter II: The World Warrior back in 91 and I never did get into the Dead or Alive franchise at all…I am the wrong sex remember. But the whole idea of violence being fine but sex/nudity not so much in gaming or the fact its seemingly okay to sexualise male characters, but doing the same to female characters is seen as “sleazy” is itself very questionable indeed.

Friday The 13th: The Game Killed By Legal Issue

Due to a rather messy legal battle over rights to the entire franchise – from screenwriter Victor Miller. Any and everything Friday The 13th related has met a gruesome ending.

There hasn’t been a new film in the long running series since the 2009 remake and despite efforts to make more films, they were put on ice due to Miller’s law suit. Now said law suit has claimed another victim, Friday The 13th: The Game will no longer receive any more updates as revealed by publisher Gun Media on Twitter and their official site.

Jason Head Squeeze

We’ve now been forced to accept that the lawsuit makes future content for the game, including alternate play modes, new playable Jasons and Counselors, and new maps, unfeasible now or in the future. Although the listed content types will be affected, we remain committed to launching dedicated servers on our console platforms and providing the continued maintenance and bug fixing important to supporting our fan base.

So what does this mean exactly? There will be no additional content added to Friday the 13th: The Game. This includes “Uber Jason”, The Grendel Map, Jason Kill Packs, Clothing, Emotes and new Counselors.

Its a real shame as the game is a lot of fun to play and all the additions planned sounded great. But from this point on, there will be no more new content. The game will still be playable (so far) with all the current content but we just won’t be getting anything new.

Gun Media have said they will still support the game with bug fixes and server support/maintenance but I have a feeling that just won’t be enough and that Friday the 13th: The Game is pretty much dead from this point onward. Still, if you read this Gun Media, there are other horror franchises that could suit your game mechanics very well indeed…

Mike and Freddy

Since When Did We Become A Community Of Beta Testers?

So I actually started to write this article a couple of months back but it eventually fell into my already massive backlog. Then I read something on that there interwebs that irked me slightly and got me back into finishing this article. That thing that irked me was this…

SoD2 Post

But before I get into my problems with this seemingly innocent post and why I got annoyed by it. Back to the main thrust of this rant and my initial aim of the article. So I wanted to take a look at the past and present in terms of gaming and ask why is it that games these days are released with numerous bugs and glitches then the developers/publishers of said game(s) expect us to report the bugs for them to fix.

The Present

One of the most eagerly awaited games of 2017 was Red Dead Redemption II…of course in true Rockstar fashion – it was delayed…more than once. So now we won’t be getting our hands on the game until October this year instead, that’s a full twelve months of delay from its original “Fall 2017” date. I really have no problem with this is it proves that Rockstar really care about what they are doing and want to give us, the punter a damn good gaming experience by ensuring the game is as polished and perfect as it can be (despite the pre-order shenanigans). Now I’m not suggesting that once Red Dead Redemption II is finally in our hands that it’ll be 100% bug and glitch free (it won’t) but what I am saying is that the game will be polished to a pretty damn high standard.

Red Dead Redemption II Shadows

I suppose my point is that most developers don’t share the same mind set that Rockstar do. Other developers/publishers are more than happy to hastily force out a clearly under-cooked game with bugs and glitches everywhere (I’ll be getting you you Undead Labs/State of Decay 2 soon) then use the ‘safety net’ of the post-launch patch to attempt to fix the problems instead of delaying the game to work on it some more and fix the known issues.

The post-launch patch can become a bit of a joke at times, especially if its a day one patch. You get your hands on the game you’ve been looking forward to the last few months (twelve of them in Red Dead Redemption II‘s case), you thrust it into your console of choice and are hit with an update before you can even install the game. Its day one and needs fixing already?

This isn’t something we have to suffer in other forms of media is it? You don’t go to the cinema, ticket in hand for the big summer blockbuster. Pay a small fortune for some popcorn and a drink that’s 60% ice before settling yourself into a seat complete with a nice sticky floor your footwear adheres to – your eyes transfixed to the big screen. The film begins and as you watch, you notice that some of the effects are not complete or the green screen backgrounds have yet to be applied, etc. After watching the obviously unfinished product, you are not told to come back to the cinema in a few weeks when its finished to view it properly. No, you watch a film that had been completed on a technical level to perfection with faultless CGI…unless you just watched Justice League of course.

Superman

So why do we put up with a clearly unfinished product when it comes to gaming? Why are we expected to do the do the job of the quality assurance department that are paid to find and report bugs and glitches? Going back to my film analogy just for a second, they do have test screenings where an unfinished film is shown to a select group of the public to get feedback to help change the film and fix its possible problems. You know what the difference is? These test screenings are FREE and those who get to see the film are not expected to pay for the ‘privilege’ of helping to make the film better. With games, we pay full price for a product that is unfinished…and then asked to help identify and report on the issues, then have to wait while the problems are fixed. Again, we pay to do this. We spend out hard earned cash to do the job of the play-testers and QA department. Is that fair?

Games tend to go through multiple milestones before they’re released.

First Playable is when the game is in its infancy, but still features functional gameplay elements and assets. Its nowhere near a releasable game, but the basics are there and the game is shaping up to what it will eventually become.

Alpha is the next stage and by now, the game contains a lot of the assets that will be in the finished product. Its still very rough but the core gameplay in now in place and things can still be altered, added and even removed. But the coders tend to concentrate on polishing the codebase to ensure the game is stable.

Beta is pretty much the final hurdle. The game is 99% done and this stage is mainly used to work out the bugs and glitches. Some developers will invite the public to take part in Open Beta Testing where they can get direct feedback from the gamers themselves to iron out any last minute issues, kind of like the test screenings films have. But basically, this Beta stage is the final stretch before the game is released and used to iron out small creases.

Code Release is where all the bugs are supposedly fixed after being reported by the QA department and the game is weeks away from release.

Gold Master and that it. The game is ready for release. The final build of the game that is used for the mass production.

Game Designer.jpg

That’s the basics as game development is different for every developer. But that up there is pretty much the industry standard cycle for a game release and as you can see – they go through pretty extensive tests before being sold to the public…so why are games still being released with numerous bugs and glitches? Even more to the point, why are we expected to do the job of the QA department and report on the bugs that should’ve been picked up by the months and sometimes even years of pre-testing?

Post-launch patches are fucking annoying and yet they now seem to be an industry standard. We have now become a community of Beta testers. But there is a flip side to all of this. What if post-launch patches never existed, what if bugs and glitches never were fixed? Here is where I need to travel to the past of gaming…

The Past

Bugs and glitches are not new and have been around pretty much since gaming began. Only back then, they were hardly fixed and we just had to put up with them. I could list a few of the more infamous bugs that any gamer will recognise…and there’s a lot of them.  But I’m just going to highlight a handful of the more notorious ones.

Pac-Man Kill Screen

Yes it’s the infamous Pac-Man Kill Screen. This glitch appears if/when the player gets to level 256 of the arcade classic Pac-Man and its impossible to avoid and came about due to an error in the formula used in the programming, it was never fixed either. You get to level 256 and its game over no matter ho many lives you have left as the right side of the screen is totally glitched out making it impossible to complete. So well known this glitch is that another game was made from its infamy with Pac-Man 256. An endless runner game where you have to try to outrun the glitchy, corrupt graphics. Donkey Kong featured a similar glitch where if the player got the level twenty two, an error in the formula of the programming would only give you seven seconds to beat the level…which was impossible.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is one of my all time favorite games. I love the setting, the music, the characters and most importantly – the gameplay. Best GTA game ever! But this beaut of a game held a game breaking bug. It was during the mission called The Ice Cream Factory where you had to sell errrr , lets call it “ice cream” out of an ice cream truck, simple enough. But the first run copies of the game had a major bug where if you saved your game while on this mission, your save file would become corrupt and you’d find that you could no longer load your game – all of your progress was lost and all you could do was restart the game from the start. Now in fairness, the later releases of the game fixed this bug, but if you had one of the earlier copies? Well you were fucked.

GTA Vice City

Jet Set Willy is a game anyone who owned a home computer in the early/mid 80s would have had a copy of. It helped shape the platforming genre in gaming and was quintessentially British. But it also had numerous bugs and glitches, the most infamous being “The Attic Bug”. For those not in the know, this was a bug so bad it meant the game could not be completed. Publisher, Software Projects actually tried to pass the bug off as being intentional to make the game harder. Eventually they had to fess up after complaints and admit it was a problem so they issued some POKEs to rectify the problems. Don’t know what a POKE is/was? Well they were essentially adjustments to the basic programming which would fix bugs. Yes, we had post launch patches back then too and Jet Set Willy was one of the first examples of what is now a very common practice. Jet Set Willy also had the greatest gaming cover art ever, a bloke throwing up into a toilet after a heavy drinking session while still clutching a bottle of booze…

Jet Set Willy Cover.jpg

So to answer the question of this whole article – since when did we become a community of beta testers? Well the truth is that we have always been a community of beta testers. Games have always had bugs and glitches in them since the dawn of gaming and games have been updated with fixes to the problems for decades now. Of course there are differences between today’s gaming climate to thirty odd years ago.

Gaming is a much more acceptable pastime, back in the 80s, it was always seen as something more underground and niche. Today gaming is a bigger industry than Hollywood movies. More people play games today than they used to, so understandably we gamers have a bigger voice and influence. If a bug was spotted in a game in the early 80s, it would often just be ignored and we couldn’t really communicate our frustration over the bug. But now we have the interwebs where we can tell the people who made the games about a discovered bug instantly and directly.

Also back then, games were made by very small teams and sometimes by people flying solo as the games were much smaller. Today and games are huge productions with hundreds of people working on them providing rich and textured game worlds. A game would take a few weeks/months to make from scratch in the 80s, today they take years to develop. So spotting a bug back in the 80s was just shrugged off as we were more forgiving of a smaller team working on a game – of course they’re liable to miss and mess up something if you only have one or two pairs of eyes to use. But now with a team of hundreds of people working on a game with a dedicated QA department, surely someone on the team would have spotted and rectified the problems? We just tend to notice bugs and glitches more now than we used to.

Skyrim Bug.jpg

Lastly there is the issue of fixing the games after launch. It was much harder back in the good ole’ days as Jet Set Willy proved with its POKEs as you would have to break into the game-code yourself and manually change/insert the new lines of coding. It was a lot of work and each person would have to re-code the game themselves individually. Most of the time it was more trouble than it was worth, so we just played and put up with the bugs. Modern patches can be rolled out over the interwebs to millions of people around the world instantly, making the process a lot easier and more “acceptable” I guess. Speaking of patches, that leads me nicely into that irking I mentioned at the start…

So yeah, one of my most eagerly awaited games of the year was released a week or two ago. State of Decay 2. I did a quick first impressions where I looked at the first couple of hours of gameplay. I did mention the bugs, but at that stage I had not witnessed anything serious. I played the game over the weekend and did a more in-depth look at the game. I mentioned more of the bugs and glitches but I still didn’t let them get to me, I even said how I hope that Undead Labs will fix the problems…and they did…kind of.

SoD2 Post Edit

The image I used where the official State of Decay 2 Facebook page announced the patch was live was pretty innocent and not something to get annoyed about right? I mean, all they are doing is letting the fans know the patch is out. Except that was not their original announcement at all. Before the editing of that Facebook post, the announcement looked more like this…

SoD2 Original

I will never understand why at first people asked us to fix the game so we went to work and released this big juicy 20Gb of bug-fixed patch and now you guys are complaining over why the patch is 20GB smh.

Now is it just me or does that post not come across as a bit…well “bitchy”? When I first read it, I thought it was a joke, a bit of trolling by a 14 year old with nothing better to do – but no, this was from the official State of Decay 2 Facebook page, so this was put up by someone connected to the game and possibly the development team, a (supposedly) professional.

Well allow me to retort. You were asked to fix the game because it was clearly released unfinished. The bugs I encountered for my first impressions article were not that major, the ones I found when I played it over the weekend stood out more and I found even more bugs and glitches after I played it further and after I had written that second article too. I chose not to go back and edit my article to highlight more and more bugs as I felt it would be unfair on Undead Labs – but with that Facebook post up there that just flat out insults the fans? Well, you just done rattled my cage there.

How the fuck dare you have a go at the very people who are putting money in your pockets. The people who have been loyal to your game over the years, the ones who waited patiently since its announcement and even accepted the delay from last year, who put up with all the bugs, glitches and rough edges of the first game. The ones who believed that they would be getting a better and more polished game with the sequel as the development team should have learned from the previous experience. State of Decay 2 is a good game despite the numerous bugs…but to have the cheek to have a pop at the people who are supporting you is just insane.

You want to know what would’ve been a better response?

The patch for State of Decay 2 is now live. We at Undead Labs would like to thank the fans for their continued support and patience as we fix the bugs.

But no, you chose to insult us instead.

You really want to know why some people complained about a 20gb patch? Because State of Decay 2 as a game in its entirety is a relatively small game, a 20 gb patch would be sizable for a 65gb game – but State of Decay 2 is only 20.31gb. So yeah a 20gb patch for a game that itself is only a shade over 20gb is not so much a patch but more of a complete game overhaul. Its painfully clear that State of Decay 2 was released too early (despite already being delayed) and needed more time to fix the issues. Not only that, you had an open Beta test and invited the general public to take part to highlight problems…and yet the game was still released with dozens of easily noticeable bugs and you moan at the fans?

Then there is that little stinger at the end of the original comment, that “smh” bit. As the often used definition of smh is:

Acronym for ‘shake my head’ or ‘shaking my head.’ Usually used when someone finds something so stupid, no words can do it justice.

You are actually calling the people who paid money to play your game “stupid”? Fucking hell Undead Labs, do you want there to be an State of Decay 3?

But do you know what the icing on the cake is? There are still a lot of bugs and glitches even post 20gb patch. There are people posting screen shots and videos of numerous bugs and glitches on those social medias even AFTER the 20gb patch. Yeah they fixed some of the issues but not all of them, bearing in mind its a 20gb patch for a 20gb game and its still not fixed properly.

Its a damn good job they did edit the original patch announcement post, just imagine what it would be like if someone screen grabbed the original and featured it in an article and then tagged Undead Labs and State of Decay 2 when sharing it on social media?

Red Dead Redemption II: The Special Editions Backlash

So Rockstar have revealed the various editions of Red Dead Redemption II that you can buy and the feedback has been “mixed” to say the least. Before I get into the meat of this one and take a look at the different versions of the game. I just want to provide my invested interest in this subject.

Preorder

I’m not much for buying games day one (with the odd exception) and most definitely not into pre-ordering. I just find the whole practice pretty abhorrent. I just want to play the game not be surrounded by useless tat. For me to get into special editions and pre-orders, they need to be well worth the extra coin and for the most part, they aren’t. But for Red Dead Redemption II I was willing to make an exception. See, I grew up with Rockstar games…and I don’t mean I jumped on the bandwagon when Grand Theft Auto III was released and shook up the gaming world. No, I was there from the very start before the name Grand Theft Auto existed – even before the name Rockstar Games existed. I go back to those early Psygnosis days, the publisher who gave an eager and highly talented small game development studio their first chance. DMA Design was their name and they made a pretty average shooter called Menace in 1988, this was followed up with a far superior shooter called Blood Money and from that point, the games got better and better. What followed were games made with a real and honest passion. Long story short, they created some of the finest games of the 90s, I mean, they made Lemmings

Lemmings

In 1997, they made the first Grand Theft Auto game and changed the gaming industry forever. BMG Interactive who published Grand Theft Auto were brought out by Take-Two Interactive and after the release of Grand Theft Auto III, DMA Design became Rockstar Studios and I really don’t need to continue the history lesson here do I?

As I said, I grew up with their games, I really did. I fucking love Rockstar as they deliver highly polished and beautifully crafted games. The characters are always larger than life, the stories are intriguing and the game worlds they create are second to none. There is no finer example of just how good Rockstar are at what they do than Red Dead Redemption. For me, this is Rockstar at their very, very best. I don’t want to get into a lengthy monologue of just how much I think Red Dead Redemption is one of the greatest games ever made, but I really do believe that. The characters, the setting, the story all melded into one hell of an amazing package that leads up to an ending that still leaves me with a lump in my throat eight years later. So as you can imagine, when they announced a sequel (turned out to be a prequel), I quickly became Fry form Futurama

Fry Take My Money

I kept scouring the interwebs in an attempt to find out just what would be on offer in terms of pre-order bonuses and limited edition collectibles. As I said at the start, I don’t go into all that stuff – but for Red Dead Redemption II I was willing to make an exception. I just knew that given Rockstar’s attention to detail and love of what they do that they’d offer something special. A limited edition with an awesome, authentic cowboy hat, an impressive 18″ model of the main character with stunning detail, maybe a replica gun model? Oh just what greatness would they include to entice the fans? Well, none of the above as it turns out. The special editions for Red Dead Redemption II are (being polite) utterly underwhelming. Let me just quickly run trough them.

Standard Edition: Just a copy of the game. Though if you pre-order the game digitally before 31st of July you’ll receive a cash bonus for story mode and a treasure map. £54.99

Special Edition: A copy of the game, an extra bank robbery mission and gang hideout to use in story mode, the warhorse the use in the game, an in-game cash bonus, special story mode items, and additional weapons and a Gunslinger outfit. £74.99

Ultimate Edition: A copy of the game, all of the content from the special edition above plus various bonuses for the online mode for the game, a survivor camp theme, additional weapons, rank bonuses and a thoroughbred horse. £89.99

Collector’s Box: A metal box containing a collectible coin, jigsaw puzzle, a bandanna, a treasure map, pin set, some playing cards, cigarette character cards, and a Wheeler, Rawson & Co. Catalogue. £89.99

Red Dead Redemption II Collectors Box.jpg

There is nothing there worth paying the extra for, at least for me anyway. You may have missed this just glancing over but the Collectors Box that will set you back a penny less of £90…you don’t even get a copy of the game. So allow me to do the maths for you. Get a copy of the game with the most content, the Ultimate Edition and add on the collectible items from the box and you’re looking at forking out £179.98. I could buy a brand new console with a game for that – and that’s a price point were you seriously need to ask yourself if its really worth it?

Just as a quick aside, the prices come from Rockstar’s official site, I’m sure shopping around you can get them cheaper…a little bit.

Now, this really irks me. Not because I can’t afford it (I can) but its more a case of how I perceived Rockstar as a company. Remember Grand Theft Auto V? Remember all the different special editions they released for that? Remember all the extra content you had to pay through the nose for? No neither do I because that never happened. There was one and only one version of Grand Theft Auto V at launch and it contained EVERYTHING, no special editions, no ultimate editions – just a game, a full and complete game. Oh yeah and lets not forget how Grand Theft Auto V became the most successful piece of entertainment media EVER. So how have Rockstar gone from creating a genuinely great game that gave the players a full game with no paid for DLC and a shit ton of FREE content and updates since its release in 2013 right up to today – how did they go from that business model that is clearly very profitable and pleased the fans to this crap with Red Dead Redemption II?

GTA V

I can not believe I’m about to write this but a thought just popped into my head. EA’s Battlefield V is set to launch with no loot-boxes, no paid for DLC, no microtransactions other than cosmetics. EA have just pulled off a Grand Theft Auto V while Rockstar are doing a Star Wars: Battlefront II. EA are putting together a better, fairer and more enticing business model for their game than Rockstar have…the people who gave us the mighty Grand Theft Auto V and all its free content in one and only one version of the game. Seriously Rockstar (though I suspect Take-Two are behind this idea), what are you doing here aside from pissing people off? Just like Grand Theft Auto VRed Dead Redemption II will sell…a lot. You don’t need these cheap tactics to make money, you created the most profitable piece of entertainment in history, not just games but any medium with Grand Theft Auto V without any of this crap.

I said earlier how I was willing to fork over my hard earned for a special edition for Red Dead Redemption II but not anymore as they are way too expensive and what you get for your money is just not worth it. Some fans have gone a bit OTT and said they will boycott the game. Not me, I still can not wait to get my hands on a copy, but I’m only going for the standard edition…and this itself annoys me because the standard copy does not come with the bank robbery mission or the gang hideout for story mode. I fucking hate withheld content. I’m not a big fan of DLC at the best of times and have argued why its just not needed in gaming at all. But this shit, holding back already completed content for people to have to pay extra for…withholding content to squeeze more cash out of the punters? Fuck you Rockstar. I bet the content is already on the disc too, you just have to pay to unlock it.

Red Dead Redemption II Shadows

Now in all fairness, Rockstar have addressed this issue with this following Tweet.

The Bank Robbery and Gang Hideout included in the RDR2 Special Edition are side activities created specifically for that edition and are not part of the main story.

So what Rockstar are saying is the content is not that important as its not part of the main story. Sorry, I don’t buy that. If the content is not that important then why is it part of a Special Edition? Even more so, its still gameplay that is being withheld from the people (like me) who won’t buy the other editions. Its a cheap tactic. Now I’m not saying that special editions shouldn’t have content the standard version won’t, I’m saying that withholding content like this is bad practice. Yeah give special edition buyers all the cosmetics and collectible tat you want – but gameplay elements should be fair game no matter what version you buy. So as it stands, if you buy the standard edition then you’re not getting all of the game. Do I really need to bring up Grand Theft Auto V with its one and only one version, no withheld content, etc again?

Red Dead Redemption II Sunset

Yeah I’m looking forward to the game and the year long delay hasn’t bothered me at all. But I’m disappointed by this penny pinching Rockstar, not as angry or vitriolic as some of the fans I have seen on Twitter, Facebook, etc…but I am disappointed in my favorite game developer since 1988.

Friday The 13th The Game: Virtual Cabin

Friday the 13th: The Game is a lot of fun, and I’m really not much of a fan of these competitive multiplayer games. But the development team at IllFonic are clearly big admirers of the movie franchise and have poured their heart and soul into the game in an attempt to deliver a true Friday the 13th experience. The game is full of nods and references to the entire film series and the whole package really is fun to play.

The basic gameplay is pretty simple, team up with a few friends and one of you will be horror movie icon Jason Voorhees while the others play as camp counselors. The aim is simple, playing as a counselor you must try to escape the map using whatever means you can. Playing as Jason, you must kill all the camp counselors before they can escape. There are various maps to play on and Jason comes in numerous variants inspired by the movies. Different Jasons have different skills, weapons and kills…all of which are bloody and brutal. The level of detail and attention to source material is just sublime. You have the amazing Kane Hodder doing the motion capture for Jason, Thom Mathews returns as Tommy Jarvis. Original musical score composer Harry Manfredini returned for the game. And of course the king of gore Tom Savini designed all the kills in the game too.

Friday the 13th The Game kill

But the game is not all about the relentless murder of camp counselors as there is a wonderful little extra called the Virtual Cabin. This is an interactive museum of Friday the 13th trivia and fun. Behind the scenes info can be found on both the making of the movies and the game. There are recreated props and scenes from the movies, characters you’ll recognise…oh and a fuck tone of hidden secrets. It really is a brilliant treasure chest of Friday the 13th goodness. This Virtual Cabin is so much more than it first seems – you just need to know how to unlock all the hidden extras.

Right here, I’m going to do a none spoiler walk-through as to how ‘complete’ the Virtual Cabin in the game…oh yes there is a point to all of this and the cabin is in fact a mini adventure game with puzzles you need to solve in order to unwrap all the great hidden tit-bits. I’m going none spoiler as there is a lot I think you should experience first-hand.

But before I do get into all of this, I do suggest that you just explore the cabin yourself and enjoy all it has to offer, play around with it’s props and familiarise yourself with it’s layout before you follow this guide as things are going to get bloody and the cabin will change as you play.

Version 1.0 – Beta

So this is the first iteration of the cabin in its purest form. You can walk around at your own leisure and look at all it has to offer without triggering anything ‘serious’. You may notice a couple of locked doors (I bet you took a sneaky peak though the keyhole though eh?), but don’t worry – we will open them soon enough. This is also where you can find the first clue. If you pick up the various newspapers and magazines and turn them around, you will notice there is a word puzzle on the back. Work it out yourself if you wish but I will give the answer right here anyway. While you can pick things up and examine then, you can’t actually take anything…we’ll remedy that right now.

Friday the 13th The Game Virtual Cabin

The hidden word you are looking for is ‘mother’. But where to use it? In the main entrance of the cabin is a funky looking 80s computer. Its a handy little tool where you can do various things like look at the camp counselors, these are really a mix of the people who worked on the game and a few cheeky surprises. too. Change the date (later), reset the cabin to any of it’s previous versions and check for updates. Update checking is exactly what you want to do, but you’ll be asked for a password. You know what to do, ‘mother’ is the password and this will unlock the next version of the cabin.

Version 1.1 – Inventory Added

The computer screen will tell you what has been added as your controls have now been updated along with the map, the telephone now works and you can also add items to your inventory. So exit the computer and turn around, you’ll see a small diorama next to the stairs depicting a scene from one of the films – but things are not quite right as the little figures are not in the right places. Pick up each of the three figures and add them to your inventory. Walk toward the kitchen (this is why I said you should explore the cabin yourself and get used to the layout.) and you’ll notice a previously locked door is now open, the first door on your right.

I will call this “the red door room” for future reference as there is a big red door in the middle of the room. Don’t go in the room just yet, instead continue toward the kitchen and go into though the next door along. This is the bathroom have a loot look around if you wish. If you look in the open box next to the shower/bath, you’ll see another figure you can pick up – so do it. Now head back out and now go into the previously mentioned red door room. In the corner of the room is another diorama depicting another scene from one of the films. Once more collect all the figures. Now still standing at the diorama, you need to put the figures back in the correct order. Working from left to right put them down in this order; Ali, Jason (holding a machete) and finally Chris.

Now return to the first diorama by the stairs in the main entrance. Put the figures down, once more working from left to right in this order; Jessica, Jason and Steven. The drawer will open, take a peak inside and pick up the secret patch. This kick-starts the next piece of the puzzle, collecting three more patches hidden around the cabin.

If you go upstairs you’ll see a wall on the left with some of Jason’s iconic masks…but three are missing. Staying upstairs and the first mask is in the blue tent in the bedroom past the “coming soon” door. This is where you’ll need to use your newly acquired ducking skill to get inside the tent and grab the mask. The second mask is downstairs in the fireplace in the main entrance. The final mask is back in the red door room in an open box. Now you have the three missing masks head back upstairs to the wall of Jason masks and take all of them, you should now have seven masks in your inventory (just check) and seven empty hooks on the wall. You need to put the masks back on the hooks in the order they appeared in the movies. Any self-respecting Friday the 13th fan should be able to do this with ease. If you want a clue, look at the degradation of the masks. For an even bigger clue…

Jsson masks.jpg

Just put the masks in the order shown in the picture. However, something is not right as this is supposed to be a shrine to Jason and one of those masks does not belong as he never wore it. Once more, any self-respecting Friday the 13th fan should know this one, remember Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning? Pick up the non-Jason mask with the blue markings (the third one along). To the right of the display another draw would’ve just opened and reveled another patch. Pick it up – two down, two to go.

So next you’ll need to use the plinths you should have noticed if you explored the cabin as I suggested. As you are still upstairs, go back to the room with the blue tent and open the wardrobe in the corner. On one of the shelves is a blue yo-yo, pick it up. Head back downstairs and near the front door is a coat-rack, take the blue baseball cap. Back to the red door room and the table on the right will have a police badge on it, pick that up. Finally go back in the bathroom and resting on the toilet cistern is a red bandanna –  yup pick that up too. So you should now have the four items needed to be placed on the plinths. First, go to the kitchen and head though the green door next to the dining table. Just behind the now opened door is the first plinth – put the blue cap here. The second is back in the red door room and here you want to place the red bandanna on the plinth. Third, back upstairs and go into the room with all the props and very bloody bed. The yo-yo goes here (there should be a mock VHS tape on the plinth you can take and use in the VHS player if you want). The fourth and final plinth is in the blue tent room and this is where you put the police badge. A little secret compartment should open up with the third patch so pick it up.

Now for the final patch. This can be as quick or as long winded as you wish to make it. As the computer pointed out earlier, the phone is now working and hidden around the cabin are various phone numbers. Look on the back of fliers, etc. Go explore, search and find as many phone numbers as you can then use the phone to dial all of them…this is the long way to do it. The quicker way? Head downstairs to the main entrance and just around the corner from the first diorama is an awesome 80s rotary phone. Use it and dial; 1-555-342-9277. The drawer under the phone will open and voilà – the final patch. Take yourself and all four patches to the kitchen and near the light switch on the wall is the where you need to place them. A secret door will open and onto the next part.

Version 1.2 – Basement Launched

Now the basement of the cabin is accessible so down you go. You’ll find yourself in a room featuring the in-game models of all the Jasons – feel free to check them out and their descriptions. Pretty cool stuff.

Friday the 13th The Game Virtual Cabin basement

You’ll most probably have also noticed a ringing telephone. When you are done admiring the various Jasons, answer that damn annoying phone. Well done, you just completed the Virtual Cabin…well the first third anyway. The game will reset taking you back to the main menu. Just re-enter the Virtual Cabin again to start the next chapter.

Version 1.3 – New Game Plus

Yeah at first it’ll seem like you have just re-started the whole thing over. But as the computer boots up it should say version 1.3 – new game plus. Oh yeah it all may look the same but things have definitely changed. Everything you did on the previous play-through will still be in place, the patches are on the wall in the kitchen, the Jason masks all in their rightful place – everything is just as you left it including the now open basement. Again, go explore if you wish, who knows what else you can find?

Friday the 13th The Game Virtual Cabin computer

But to crack on with this next part you need to use that computer once more. This time though you need to change the date to June 13th, 1979. Does that date sound familiar? Its the date the first film in the series takes place. Exit the computer and you should hear that damn phone in the basement again. Go on, go answer it…again.

Version 1.4 – Lights Nerfed

So now the power to the cabin has been cut, no lights. You may also want to check out those Jason models once more…something is wrong eh? You are now locked in the basement but not to worry as getting out is easy. Just head over to the fuse box on the wall and as you examine it, you’ll hear the basement door open – so time to head back to the main floor. Quickly look around the kitchen and you’ll see things have gone very, very wrong. Head to the main entrance and…well feel free to explore the cabin…if you dare. You’ll have to explore the cabin if you want to progress. Head upstairs and things are beginning to look very bleak. As what has happened upstairs is revealed, you should hear some rather unsettling sounds going on in the background. Time to head back downstairs to see what that was all about.

That previously locked door opposite the red door room is now open, so why not go inside? Turn around and close the door while inside the room and you will find a key. Pick it up and open the door. Now go to the main entrance and the front door will be ‘open’. Lets go explore the great outdoors.

Version 1.5 – Outdoor DLC

As I have said before (and will say again) feel free to take a look around, find some fun Easter eggs, nods and references, play with the props just come back to the cabin when you are done.

Friday the 13th The Game Virtual Cabin outside

If you are outside with the cabin behind you, looking out over Crystal Lake, turn to your right and there is a locked shed. Unlock the shed with the key you found and take the shovel you’ll find inside. Turn back around and leave the shed, follow the path until you get to a small campfire. Turn left and you should see a car, a way to escape? No, but next to the car is a fridge…a padlocked fridge (who padlocks a fridge?) You can find the combination to the lock if you really look for it. Or of course you could just use the code; 5312 to save some time. Open the fridge and take the wonderful surprise inside, I’m sure Jason won’t mind.

Walk back to the campfire and turn left to continue along the path you started on up the hill. Go past the “no entry” sign on the left, past the open rusty gate on the right and just keep walking straight ahead up to the top of the hill where you will find Jason’s shack…dare you enter? Well you have to if you want to continue this game. Put what you found in the fridge on the familiar looking table in the shack and you will be rewarded with one of those secret patch things again. Yup more to find but only three this time.

Leave Jason’s shack and head back down the hill until you get to those rusty gates from before that will now be on your left. Make your way inside and go toward Jason’s grave, dig him up (why would anyone do that?) with that shovel from earlier. Open up the casket (now really, why would anyone do that?). Jason is not in the best of shape is he? Time to recreate the opening to Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. So look around the graveyard for a fence post, its just turn the right of Jason’s grave. Stick the fence post into Jason’s chest (okay so really why the fuck would anyone do that?). Once the mayhem has ended, look inside Jason’s casket for the next patch.

Now for the third and final patch. Go out of the cemetery and stand in front of that no entry sign you saw before, looking forward though the gap in the fence. You should see a pool of blood several paces in front of you – walk to it. Notice the machete on the floor pointing in a direction? Follow that direction in a straight line and do not venture off that route (oh go on then just for fun, I dare you to walk a different route). Anyway just follow the direction the machete pointed you toward until you get to another directional arrow carved into a tree, follow that in straight line (don’t you want to go off the path again?) to a real arrow stuck in a tree and then follow the direction the arrow is showing you to another tree with a small family of ducks pointing you in the next direction. This is the final one now so just walk forward to the mound of dirt on the floor and dig. Take the third and final patch you’ll find there.

Friday the 13th The Game Virtual Cabin dock

Walk back to the campfire (oh dear!) and turn left so you are facing Crystal Lake. Head on down and you will see where you need to place the patches you collected. Put the patches where they belong and take the gas can. Put the gas in the boat engine and finally escape the cabin to the safety of the police…

Version 1.6 – New Game Plus Plus

So you just finished the Virtual Cabin…again. But there is still more. So now you are back at the main menu, load up the Virtual Cabin one last time (until they update it again). The computer should now say when booting up; version 1.6 – New Game Plus Plus. Just like last time, everything is as you left it. The front door has been replaced, but you can open it and venture outside if you wish. Go explore both the cabin and outside to see anything you may have missed earlier if you like.

To advance in this part you need a cheat code – but not just any cheat code. The granddaddy of cheat codes. Its time to break out the Konami Code. Depending on what platform you are playing on, the Konami Code is slightly different. So using default controls/button layouts.

  • PC: W, W, S, S, A, D, A, D, Left-Click, Right-Click.
  • Xbox One: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A.
  • PS4: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, O, X.

Friday the 13th The Game glitch

If done correctly, the screen will go corrupt for a few seconds and a debug menu will appear in the top left-hand corner of the screen. You need to tinker with a couple of the options. First turn Show Collision: ON and then Map Collision: OFF which will display unkownError. Then click Close Debug Menu and you are back in the game…the now very broken game as red lines showing the boundaries of the in-game props will now be displayed. Head back to the red door room and you’ll notice the door in the middle of the room is glitching out – walk into it. You are now in some kind of strange room. Find and activate the radio on the table, when the message is finished those damn patches from before will appear. Pick them up and…

Version 1.7 – Unstable Build

So the Virtual Cabin just reset itself and its all gone wrong. Have some fun here and look around the cabin. Just stay upstairs for now though. Yup everything is all kinds of fucked up and notice that coming soon door is still locked? Lets get it open then.

You need to follow the path of the patches, pick them up as you go and follow them downstairs. When you reach the bottom of the stairs, that thing that met you when you got there, you have to examine or the rest of the game won’t play out. You now can’t leave the cabin so just follow those patches into the kitchen and down to the basement. You are back in the Jason display museum and three of the Jasons are holding three of the patches. Who does he think he is eh, stealing your hard earned patches…so go get them back.

Friday the 13th The Game Virtual Cabin basement 2

Time to follow the patches one last time. So back upstairs ensuring you pick up every single patch as if you miss one then the next part will not trigger. They will lead you all the way to the top floor and to that locked coming soon door. Its still locked too – but you have debug mode on and can walk right through it, so off you go.

Version 2.0 – Relaunch

Okay so you ain’t in Kansas anymore but a Friday the 13th fan should know exactly where they are. Still not sure? Just follow the linear path through the door in front of you. Continue forward and you’ll find yourself in a room with a computer. Check it out if you like for an interesting tit-bit. Then when you are ready, look for a lever on the side of a door and use it for the final surprise…

You just completed the Virtual Cabin.


 

Friday the 13th The Game kill 2

You can re-enter the Virtual Cabin anytime you like now and explore it in all its gory glory. When you do enter it, it’ll be set at the Version 2.0 ending, but you can use the computer to rest all progress if you want to play through it all again or just replay the various sections.

The whole thing is a fantastic Easter egg with dozens and dozens of more Easter eggs hidden inside. I’m still not sure if I have found everything the Virtual Cabin has to offer and developers, IllFonic do like to update the game including the Virtual Cabin along the way – seeing as there is a new update coming to the game this Thursday I’m sure there will be more secrets to discover in the future.

Is State Of Decay 2 Dead On Arrival?

Back in 2013 when Undead Labs released the first State Of Decay game, I was bored of the whole zombie survival genre. There were zombie games everywhere, even in games you think wouldn’t have them – I’m looking at you Red Dead Redemption. Don’t get me wrong, the Undead Nightmare DLC for Red Dead Redemption was amazing, but did anyone honestly think that the game needed zombies? Zombie games were everywhere and as I said – by 2013 I was just so utterly bored of those undead bastards. Then State of Decay was released and my brother kept hounding me to play it…and I really didn’t want to. But he was persistent and without giving too much away he just kept telling me how great the game was and so I reluctantly downloaded it and hated it. I sat there playing this abomination of a game for a while, running around and smacking zombies around the head with a piece of wood. It was tedious and I got rather angry with my sibling for convincing me to fork over my hard earned cash and quickly turned it off. The game was ugly, had numerous glitches and frame-rate issues.

State of Decay church

“Just get to the safe-house at the church” is what my brother told me. So I did, I gave State of Decay another go – hell I paid for the fucking thing so I may as well get something out of it right? All through my play time I just kept hearing my brother in the back of my head saying “get to the church, get to the church, get to the church” in a really annoying voice. Long story short, he was right as its when you do “get to the church” in State of Decay when the game really opens up. Character management, base building, scavenging, equipment creating and so much more are all unleashed onto you and what starts out as a pretty boring zombie game suddenly evolves into something totally different with a depth of gameplay I rarely see in big budget, AAA titles never mind a low budget indie game as State of Decay was. It went from being a game I detested to one of the best games I played last generation. I must have poured hundreds of hours into State of Decay on the 360 and then the Xbox One, I even played through it again before the release of the sequel on my Xbox One X. So when Undead Labs announced a sequel at E3 in 2016, I was ready with bankcard in hand and as soon as I could pre-order, I did. I even went for the Ultimate Edition which comes with some in-game items, and future DLC including a new map and new gameplay mode. But more importantly, it came with early access to State of Decay 2 which was available four days before it’s official release date of tomorrow. I did a very quick (and rough) first impressions when I played the game for a couple of hours and liked what I saw. But I wanted to do a proper write up and look at the game after I’d put more time into it as first impressions can change over time. So I’ve been playing State of Decay 2 over the weekend and?

Title.jpg

First thing I need to make clear is that this is still a low budget, indie game here not a big budget title and there are a few cracks. There are some issues with frame-rates, lag and other minor niggles but nothing game breaking at all. There was a patch released for the game which sorted out a lot of the bigger problems but a few do still remain.

The game starts with you choosing from three pairs of characters, each with their own skill sets and strengths. There’s a little blurb on their relationships and back stories but it really amounts to nothing as the individual stories are not important in the grand scheme,its really just background filler. After you choose your pair of characters, you are thrown into a linear tutorial that teaches you the bare basics of movement, combat and scavenging. For a seasoned State of Decay player, the tutorial is just insulting. Get to the end and you then can choose which of the three maps you start on. As far as I can tell, there is no major difference in the main story and the map/character selection is nothing more than just that, a map/character selection. But once you get passed all of that – that game starts proper and you are thrown into an open world extravaganza.

Right from the off, the game looks good. Okay so its not as graphically impressive as something like Assassin’s Creed: Origins but again, State of Decay 2 is low budget and in that regard it does look impressive. The world feels alive despite the fact you are trapped in a zombie apocalypse. There are little details like rats and lizards running around, rubbish strewn on the floor that make the world you are in seem lived in at some point. Many of the staples from the previous game return and have either been tweaked or overhauled to work better. The base building is back with several more options and multiple upgrades for your base. The character building plays out pretty much the same but with some new features. In State of Decay when you maxed out one of your character’s skills, you could chose a specialization and that was pretty much it. Now when you max out a skill, you can chose from several specializations each with different strengths and weaknesses and continue to level up that specialization further.

State of Decay 2 church

I mentioned in my first impressions article how I found myself pressing wrong buttons and not really getting on with the menu system. This is mainly due to coming directly from playing the original (a lot) and my being so used to that set up so that switching to the sequel and its tweaks did throw me for a while. But now I’ve spent more time with State of Decay 2, I’m finding my way around the menus and interface easier, its become second nature. Base building works like a dream with the new options as does managing your characters. You can switch between your survivors with ease, promote them if needed, check out their skills and stats and so much more. All of this helps create one of my favorite aspects of the game, the building of your community. Situations can change if you don’t keep your base well stocked with the essentials, lack of food can lead to your community’s morale dropping and even to depression. Some of your characters may clash and fight between themselves. Low building materials can mean you’ll see your base suffer damage and in need of repair. You need to keep an eye on everything and ensure you maintain your stocks at a level that keeps your base and residents happy. Then there is a flip side to, overstock with food (for example) and it can spoil if not used. There is a delicate balancing act going on among all the zombie slaughter which you need to keep an eye on to help your community grow at a steady rate.

As you build your base, you can and will encounter problems. A bigger base will attract zombies. If your base creates a a lot of noise and building a generator to give your base electricity will create the most noise then zombies will most definitely come a-knocking on your front door. This is a new feature were your base will get attacked by passing zombies. Thankfully you can keep an eye on just how much attention your base will attract on the base building screen. So its up to you, build a huge and impressive base with as many rooms and facilitates as you want but be under continual attack from zombies, or keep it much lower key and avoid all the hassle. But of course a smaller base will only attract smaller groups of survivors and you need as many survivors you can find to stay alive. Its more of that balancing act I mentioned before and really gives you a lot for freedom in just how you build your home and community.

State of Decay 2 menu

The main aim of the game is to survive. Gather resources, build up your base and community, fend off zombies. Its State of Decay with some tweaks and improvements…and I’m perfectly fine with that. Undead Labs have not messed with the winning formula too much. They have kept what worked with the original game and improved in the areas that needed it. If you played the original, you’ll find yourself right at home with this sequel. All the special zombies are back too, the screamers that stun the player and attract zombies, the bloater that explodes in a cloud of zombie gas that can poison you and those really annoying ferals that jump around erratically and leap on you from a distance…oh yeah, lets not forget those great hulking juggernaut zombies that take several dozen rounds of ammo to put down. But this sequel adds a new type of zombie to the mix, the blood plague zombie. These blood covered blighters can and will infect your survivors if they get in close enough, this leads to you contracting the blood plague and you’ll soon have to find a cure or your survivor will end up deader than a dead thing. The only way to really stop the blood plague is to destroy the plague hearts that will appear around the map – but there is twist as the more hearts you destroy, the stronger the next heart becomes. So things can get a little tough further down the line if you are not properly equipped…which is where the whole base management and equipment crafting comes in useful.

State of Decay 2 blood plague

The three maps are big, not the biggest maps I have seen in an open world game but they still have plenty to see and do in them. Put it this way, I have sunk around 20 odd hours into my single -player game (I also have a co-op game going with my brothers) and despite the many hours I have put in, I think I have only seen about one fifth of one of the maps…one of the maps – there’s still two more to explore after the one I’m currently on. Now I read a review that claimed they finished the game within 10 in-game days. I can not say how true this is as I’m only on day 5 and still have a long way to go. But I think this is due to the fact I am not rushing my way thorough the game (20+ hours and I’ve still not finished it) and if you are one to rush to the end, then you are really not playing the game right and will miss out on a lot of what it offers. This is a game where you really need to take your time and enjoy what is there to get the most out of it.

The environments themselves are varied between the three maps, I did start new games just to take a quick look at all three. There seems to be a lot more verticality over the previous game. There is more variety in the locales within each map, more places to discover. Though I have noticed a lot of the buildings have the same layouts as they did in State of Decay. Some of the houses are the same, the shops, gas stations, etc all seem to have the same basic layouts even if the graphics in them have been updated.

State of Decay 2 map

Of course I have to quickly cover the all new co-op mode in State of Decay 2. You can now team up with up to three friends and take on the zombie hordes online. Its damn good fun too with a decent team of players who know that they are doing. Good team work is the key to survival and just running around aimlessly is a surefire way to end up one of the undead. Gathering resources, building the home-base and keeping the community happy is easier with a few pals. One of the big things a lot of reviews are seeing as a negative is the the tethering, you see guest players are tethered to the host player and can not wander off doing their own thing and if you do wander off too far then you get a warning to head back, ignore the warning and you will be auto-snapped back to the host. Some reviewers have called this out as a negative, but I don’t see it that way at all. The range you can wander from the host is still pretty big to be honest and besides, this game is all about support and backing each other up…so why would you want to go off and do your own thing, that is what single player is for. Yeah the tethering works well and means you have to stay within range of the host, but still gives you enough freedom to do what needs to be done. I really have no problem with it at all.

Its not all good news though. As I mentioned earlier, there are still some glitches even post-patch. Strangely I found most of the glitches seem to happen in co-op mode over single player. For instance, I played games where doors were ‘open’ as shown in the game but actually closed and needed to be opened – if you get what I mean. Sometimes the locker you use to store your items is not there, rooms you build in your base may not show up on another player’s screen. There are still problems with frame-rates and lag issues – particularly when driving. Its still rough around the edges and I hope Undead Labs do fix the niggles in the future with another patch. Plus I don’t know if its just me, but I find the game far easier then its predecessor. In the original I used to dread alerting a zombie horde as they could very easily surround, overpower and kill you. In this the zombie hordes are nothing but a mild annoyance. Searching a building and making too much noise attracts zombies, this was a disaster in the first game as you could get rushed with multiple zombies all attacking you at once, yet here when you make noise and you’ll just get two or three zombies shamble over to you. Infestations in the first game were a real battle yet here they are a slight distraction. There seems to be fewer zombies around in general and they also seem less aggressive over the first game too. Maybe it is just me but I find State of Decay 2 less of a challenge. I think it needs a hardcore mode.

State of Decay 2 has had a few bad reviews that call the game out on its “game breaking” glitches. I believe some (if not all) of these reviews were done pre-patch and are not entirely fair now the game has been patched to a much more playable state.

State of Decay 2 foresome

Overall, State of Decay 2 is a cracker of a game. If you loved the first one then I highly recommend this as its everything a sequel should be. The core of what made the original great is still there and its been improved just enough. There are some new features that keep the gameplay fresh and interesting. Plus the co-op mode is just so much fun, one of the best co-op games released in years. Despite its niggles, State of Decay 2 is a solid and entertaining title. Yes the bugs and glitches are an annoyance but nothing that will ruin your enjoyment of the game. If Undead Labs could iron out the problems – this could be one of the best open world games around and most definitely the best zombie survival game yet.