Obviously, that puts me in a minority with my gaming compatriots. After being taunted by Joe at Massive Crits for my lack of FPS content (even though I expressed my love for them publically here) I figured I would explain. I have been spoiled with online gaming forever. This sets up expectations for me that typically can’t be met in a single player game. Humans add a layer of complexity to any game you play along with them that can’t be scripted – extreme talent and extreme stupidity. Both change your style and manner of play depending on which you face. In the online gaming sphere usually it is both at the same time. Sometimes by the same player.
This limits my FPS exposure in gaming since most FPS’s have the online portion as a secondary part of their main campaign. Notable exceptions of course are the Battlefield series, which I play regularly, and the ever so popular Team Fortress 2 which while fun doesn’t completely suit my style. I only recently picked up Half Life 2 (the orange box) from Steam (admitting that probably lost me any shred of credibility I had left with you, my esteemed reader(s)) and to be honest I only bought it because I got hooked on the comic Concerned. While it is a good comic solo after playing HL2 it really shines. I stopped reading the comic until I played through the first few levels so I could get the punchlines better. Sad part is, I kept getting ahead in the comic over the game – not because the game isn’t good but that damn single player just doesn’t do it for me like it used to – so I kept hitting spots in the comic where I realized I haven’t been so had to keep booting up the game to catch up.
What I am really longing for is a great Co-op experience and a new zombie game (the world needs more zombies) which leaves me highly anticipating Valve’s upcoming title Left 4 Dead. Zombies don’t work in player vs player, as players do not know how to behave like zombies (in gaming – many have behaving like a zombie down to an art in real life). Something about the overwhelming odds against humanity versus an evil force (ie: most movies released the past 30 years) and working alongside other unlikely heroes for a common goal is just plain fun. While online play is always my choice, in this example playing against a person instead of AI usually ruins the experience instead of expanding it.
What is missing in L4D and the plethora of zombie mods is a sandbox factor. My dream FPS would have the mechanics of Project Reality which captures the shooting deviation and intensity of firing a gun pretty much perfectly. I don’t want to be Rambo while fighting zombies I want every shot to count. Here is how my dream zombie shooter plays out. I am going to use PR as the base, as I think it would be perfect for it with the quality and selection of the maps, the mechanics, the kits, and the existing gameplay modes which would translate nicely into zombie land.
The setting is simple. You are a member of a military unit (stop me if you have heard this one before) a regular grunt, perhaps with some special training for additional kit usage. You are deployed to an area of the world which has a zombie infestation. There are two game mods – “Rescue” (based off the Insurgency gameply in PR) and “Cleanout” based on AAS – Attack And Secure. In Rescue, you have your main base of operations and when certain criteria are met (X number of zombies killed, etc) a marker pops up on that map indicating where people are that need to be rescued. It is that simple. While the first portion of the game will be building defences (bunkers, firebases, barbed wire fences, Heavy Machine gun nests, etc) and defending the main spawn point for the troops, the second part is having squads go out and search for survivors and save them. Just like in PR, you can set forward bases and encampments. Save X number of civvies and you win. Have your army wiped out and you lose. The survivors are always there (as the weapon caches are in Insurgency) and the markers are just to help a team a long who is having a hard time finding them. The survivors will typically be in buildings or on roofs and have some minor defences built up keeping the zombies out – so we will have to add a timer as those defences won’t hold up forever. AAS mode has a series of capturable areas that must be taken in a specific order (ensuring that action is easy to be found) and there are always two points available for capture – which also means there are always two points that need to be defended. Zombies can overthrow any compound and push the army back. To win, capture and hold all points. Run out of tickets and you lose.
I would like to see a change in how the Zombies work. Typically you either have fast zombies, or slow zombies, and usually always stupid zombies. To build on the excitement and experience, there should be at least three type of zombies : The typical slow moving dumb ones (Dawn of the Dead), which there are a ton of, mix in a healthy dose of fast moving ones (28 days later), and have a few smarter ones – ones that take cover and still know how to use a gun – although not as effective as in their human state (Canadian Armed Forces). To make this fit in the storyline it is as simple as stating the longer a zombie is a zombie, the more they degrade to the slow/stupid state as their bodies break down. Mixing up zombie types would add a layer of fun to the game and force players to adjust tactics depending on what they are facing. Zombies would also have to have the capability to damage constructs and vehicles with their bare hands so tanks just cant roam around untouchable – of course it would be very limited damage but swarms could be effective against assets. In every map, there will be unlimited zombies but their spawn rate would be proportionate to the size of the map, the number of people in Co-op, and how many objectives are remaining. It would be a challenge to balance the feeling of dread but modders/programmers are very clever.
I could go on and on to make a fantastic zombie mod. Unfortunately I don’t have the resources or talents to mod, so I will continue to dream it up and see if my fairy princess (no, not you Velocityboy) arrives and grants me my wish. If you haven’t played PR before some of the above probably doesn’t make sense or sound as good to you as it should. If you have played PR you will know what I am talking about, and I am talking pure sweet FPS zombie on zombie sandbox action. If that doesn’t turn you on then something is wrong with you.