Friday, June 14, 2013

Urban Dead, a Bwogtastic Online Zombie Sim

So for those Bwogonauts who've done their reading, it's no surprise that ol' BW likes RPGs. I also like free games, simple games, and open world environments. I have a special love for survival horror games, with or without zombies, because I like resource management of things like... well, myself. There's something particularly addicting for me about having to get that next healthpack or pistol clip and if I might die of exhaustion as much as feral zombie dogs then all the better.

Enter Urban Dead. I discovered this game years ago - I don't remember the exact date I started playing, but here's my text entry in "zombie appearance" (you can write anything up to 255 characters and it helps to keep track of things sometimes):

First died on Sunday April 27th, 2008 in a zed raid on Bowring Police Station in Spicer Hills. Again, outside the entry warehouse on June 5th, 2008 and in Dickins Park 6/25/08. 8/11/08 at the Mallet Museum. 6/10/13 in the Padden Museum. PLEASE REVIVE ME

My first in-game death was over five years ago. Now to be fair, sometimes I forget about playing this game... like for months and years at a time. It so simple to play though, and so incredibly easy to die if you don't plan ahead, that I keep coming back. The community is persistent too - I have a particular location that I visit often and some of the same players have been there since the beginning (or at least when I started). Okay, on to my review (which you should really just skip to go make an account with UD but have it your way if you insist)...

There's a couple mechanics that are going to, pardon the pun, come into play here. First of all, you only get 50 Action Points at a time. They get used up to do things like... well, like anything. Almost everything costs AP. They refresh at the rate of 1 every thirty minutes of real-time. Consider yourself earned. Secondly, there's experience points. These are gained most from combat but there are other ways (healing players, etc.). You spend XP to buy skills - of which you'll need a few almost from the get-go (freerunning, for instance, is almost essential for anyone playing). Encumbrance is measured in percents, which is really nice, and dropping things doesn't cost AP. The user-interface is ridiculously simple - there's a nine-squared map on the left of your screen (you're in the middle one) that you can click to move on, one square at a time. On the right at the top is a description of the space you're in, including any zombies or survivors. Below that is all your available actions and the AP cost. You can search for things, open doors and enter buildings, build barricades, load you weapons, setup a generator and fuel it, re-tune your radio to a different frequency, attack someone, revive someone, use a first aid kit, and a lot of other things. There's only a handful of weapons in the game which turns a lot of people off (those who haven't already left from the graphic layout that doesn't require a three-hundred dollar video card) but it's a simulator - how many different kinds of weapons do you think you're likely to find in an average neighborhood anyway, and would you know the difference? You get a pistol and a shotgun and that's it, holding a maximum of six rounds and two shells respectively. You can choose to start as a number of different types of survivors but some are better-suited to playing alone. If you're one of those, incidentally, just go ahead and log out right now. We don't want you around Malton unless you promise to distract the zombies with your tasty flesh. Since you're likely going to become one pretty soon yourself, we'd rather not have to waste our precious AP one you. Someone who goes it solo will probably last less than the average Day Z player to be honest, depending on where they start, and they'll totally deserve it. Player Killers are also around for sure, but I think at this point most people are content to survive.

Except the zombies.

Once you die as a survivor, you'll find that you can stand and be... a zombie! There's a whole skill tree for the zeds that you'll be able to buy up, if you're into that. It's not a bad route to go - you can find videos on YouTube of how the proper coordination of zombie hordes can be quite devastating. Some things are persistent, like wearing a flak jacket, but for the most part you won't be able to do anything you could as a survivor. It's commonly accepted that cemeteries are revive points (because, duh) and if you hang out there for a couple days someone will likely come and stick you with needles so you can be your old self again. You'll still have all your loot too, which is nice.

"But who cares, BW? We want to kill things!"

Well that's okay with me, but you won't enjoy UD. In the last couple days (and I hadn't played in almost a year), I logged in to discover I was a zombie, stood up and left my destroyed safehouse (zombies can really cause havoc) and made for my old haunt. I figured there'd still be players there and that the cemetery was a good spot to get revived. I was right and I made it to the entrance (you can barricade buildings up so much that survivors can't enter them except through adjacent buildings using the freerunning skill, so there are oftentimes buildings that are kept just below maximum barricading for that purpose) and then to the main building, which is a police station. Someone mentioned that power was out in the entrance point, I went down and setup my generator (which I'd had for, literally, years) and fueled it and returned to the station. Power has just gone out in a nearby NecroTech building, so that will likely be a project in the coming days. Getting rid of that generator means I finally have a chance to stock back up on ammunition - and that will likely take several days of AP. That's it, no big deal. No killing anything really, and no shootouts or sneaky traps, just surviving. And with a healthy dose of zombies just one click away, we call it survival horror. And we love it.

With Greenest of (User Interface) Greens,

[Edit: You can see the stats for the game here, which tells us there are over eight thousand people still playing. Not too shabby.]

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