If you owned a PS3 or Xbox 360 in the late 2000’s, chances are you owned a copy of (or at least heard of) Call of Duty: World at War. If you owned this game, then you probably played the incredibly popular zombies game mode. The zombies mode is an arcade mode where players try their hardest to survive wave after wave of zombie onslaught, buying weapons and repairing barriers along the way. This mode has been in nearly every Call of Duty since Call of Duty: World at War. However much like the franchise it hails from, COD zombies has grown into a boring slog, despite the addition of characters, extensive lore, exo-suits, and even Cthulhu! I loved this mode when it first released, but after seeing iteration after iteration of what was essentially the same thing – with the occasional pallet swap and gimmick – I, like many, eventually grew tired of it. If you’re like me and want a new arcade-like zombie shooter but you’re tired of COD zombies, then there’s a new game that might be what you’re looking for: Killing Floor 2.
Killing Floor 2 is an online co-op zombie shooter developed and published by Tripwire Interactive and is the direct sequel to the somewhat popular game Killing Floor. The game has been on steam greenlight for what feels like an eternity, but has since been fully released.
In Killing Floor 2, up to six players team up and fight wave after wave of undead creatures, buying weapons and building barricades along the way. If this concept sounds familiar to anyone who has played COD zombies or Left 4 Dead, that’s because it’s essentially the same game, just without a campaign. It’s essentially a horde mode that’s been turned into a full game. While Killing Floor 2 is nothing new conceptually, it’s still a well-made and incredibly fun zombie shooter.
To start, Killing Floor 2 has six player co-op, as opposed to the traditional four player co-op found in most games these days. Being able to play with six friends instead of just four is a nice feature. If you play with a somewhat large group of friends like I do you sometimes run into the problem of having to leave someone behind while everyone else goes and has fun because a game has only four player co-op.
The game lets players build strong teams using the game’s class system, which resembles some MMORPGs and even the Battlefield franchise. There are basic classes like the medic and the support which form the backbone of a strong team, but there are also some more fun and interesting classes: the gunslinger that can freeze groups of zombies in a mountain of ice, the SWAT class that can use flashbangs to disorient the undead, the firebug that specializes in turning zombies into heaps of charcoal, and let’s not forget about the berserker, who runs around with a shovel smashing zombie’s brains out. As players progress through the game, they can level up and upgrade these classes by increasing their movement speed, ammo capacity, ability effectiveness, etc.
Players can also customize their loadout with a variety of weapons. From Winchester rifles to microwave guns, this game has every iconic weapon you can think of as well as a few interesting additions. They even included a crossbow which looks strikingly like the one the Deryll uses in The Walking Dead. While I do like the variety of weapons, shooting them doesn’t feel as satisfying as it should (maybe I’m just use to playing competitive shooters). These weapons, along with other items such as grenades and body armor, can be bought in between rounds from an automated kiosk that has the voice of a robotic French lady.
So, what about the zombies? Well Killing Floor 2 features a hodgepodge of undead miscreants. There are generic zombies (of course), but there are also siren-like zombies, which attract enemies towards them. There are also invisible zombies that sometimes do sick backflips, as well as these creepy looking spider zombies. There are also boomers, er…excuse me I meant to say fat zombies (they’re literally just the boomers from Left 4 Dead). There are also chainsaw zombies, zombies that hurl molten projectiles, giant beefcake zombies, etc. With each passing wave, more and more of these zombies are thrown at the players, and they become harder and harder to kill with each passing wave. Once players reach the final wave, a randomly selected final boss appears. Each boss requires a certain strategy and coordination to take down. The first time my friends and I played, we encountered the Patriarch, a giant Gatling gun wielding mutant. As we dumped lead into the Patriarch, the mutant thing only became stronger as his health got lower. It didn’t help that his health regenerated every minute or so. We nearly beat him, but our team got wiped out just before we could finish him off. These bosses can be quite challenging.
Having a strong, well balanced team, as well as good coordination, is key to making it through the killing floor.
Killing Floor 2 also features a versus mode, where players split off into two teams: zombies and survivors. This mode is cool if you end up on the side of the zombies. It offers a new perspective for this game. However, if you end up on the survivors team it just ends up feeling like the hoard mode with smarter – sometimes dumber – zombies. My friends and I only played a few rounds of this mode before getting bored.
Killing Floor 2 is made using Unreal Engine 3, which at this point is a little outdated. It looks like a game that came out a few years ago (well I guess that makes sense considering how long it’s been in development). This game still looks great though. It has some of the best lighting I’ve seen in a while. Signs and lights are lit well and perfectly contrast with the darker parts of the map. Boy do these maps look dark, sometimes pitch black in certain areas like subway tunnels and construction sites. The way light reflects off of surfaces is truly stunning.
The UI is very clean and simple, though I did find that the menus were a little too jumbled for my taste. I did have a problem with the icons above the other player’s heads. The names are just a bit too small, and the white above light blue makes them hard to read, which isn’t great if you’re trying to coordinate with your teammates.
Speaking of players, the game gives you plenty of options for player customization. You can choose from a mishmash of military and wacky characters. You have the generic SWAT and SAS people, but you also have interesting characters like Mr. Foster, the bowler hat gas mask wearing brit, or everyone’s favorite underground DJ, DJ Skully. There’s even a guy dressed like a medieval knight
Killing Floor 2 offers a great co-op experience for those looking to mow down waves of zombies. It offers plenty of character customization options and classes to mess around with. $40 may seem like a lot for what is essentially a giant hoard mode, but compared to other games coming out this year, $40 is a very reasonable price. If you’re looking for a new zombie shooter or a new co-op game to play with friends, I highly recommend this game.
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