Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I Love Zombies (Mechanics)

Monkey Bomb

The one game mode in Call of Duty, which pulls me in even when I'm tired of campaign or multiplayer, is Zombies. It's great, it's wonderful, it's what I'm going to talk about. This will be my Halloween post.

What I love about Zombies is how different it feels. This may be because I never played the Left 4 Dead games, as I don't play on PC or own a 360, but horde modes draws me in. It's all about rhythm. In campaign, the player is at the mercy of what the developers want to happen, especially in this set-pieces filled world of AAA gaming. In multiplayer, it varies on how good the player is, how skilled the other players are, and if teams are involved. Some clans can dominate an entire night, and pride themselves on doing it. The rhythm in Zombies is old school arcade fun.

Zombies plays like Robotron. Each round enemies attack the player from all sides, while progressively becoming more difficult. Reflexes, environmental awareness, and an itchy trigger finger are must haves to survive. As simple as the Robotron-esque formula is, it works. The player receives what they put in, but are at mercy of the aggressive enemies. New rounds are genuinely new, depending on other players and the Mystery Box.

Solo Play is fun, but the doesn't get interesting until Co-op mode. The kinds of players you meet can create once in a lifetime playthroughs. Some players are awful and become downed past a sea of zombies, causing you to zig-zag through the group and reviving him, only for that player to die again. Some players are experienced, and work well in a group. There's not a better feeling knowing you are protected by people who are as good, or better than you. Some people goof off, others take it serious.

To be honest, the system I've been talking about can be easily manipulated by season players, and it is, but here is where the game of luck comes into play, The Mystery Box. All stages have Wall Weapons, weapons that can always be found in specific areas and bought for a certain price, as well as refilled with ammo for half the price. The Mystery Box costs 950 points and randomly assigns a weapon or grenade of some kind. Will it be the ray gun? The heavy machine gun? Maybe it will give the grenade launcher, who's shells don't explode on impact, but require two centuries to pass before they explode. Who knows! That's the beauty of the system, it can give the worst weapon in the worst possible situation, or the best weapon at just the right time.

That is what makes me keep coming back, the uniqueness of each game. I'm not even taking into account the different maps, game types, or optional Easter Eggs that can be done.

Survival mode is self-explanatory, survive in an arena for as long as possible. It's a simple equation that works. Grief is the mode that calls for the worst in players. Two teams, up to eight players, are pit against each other in a passive-aggressive team deathmatch. Neither team can directly harm the other, but they can push each other out of windows, stop teammates from healing each other, and not save them when a pack of zombies surround them. Grief is also the mode where the Zombie Flesh item appears. Zombie Flesh is an object that can be thrown and attaches to whatever it touches, which attracts all the zombies in the map to its location. The perfect thing to put on the opposing teams back. All in all, a fair amount of variety for a horde mode.

Buildables are a new feature in Zombies, and tie in heavily with the Easter Eggs. Weapons like the Jet Engine Gun, which is a Jet Engine that sucks zombies through the front, and red slush spits out the back. The Sliquifier, or better described as, the slip and slide gun. Other helpful items include, zombie shield, automatic turret, trample steam, electric trap, and so on, and so on. Storyline Easter Eggs will require the player to build these things to achieve the objectives. The Jet Engine Gun must be built, and then used at a specific spot in the cornfields to unlock the next step. An extra challenge for players who want it.

I love the game. The mechanics mean every game is it's own challenge, from the people, to the weapon choices, to how traversing the stage goes. My time is well spent, even in a bad game where a zombie hugs me from behind to death. It may be that I don't play the game too seriously, I've seen countless people leave a game when they get downed once. Maybe it messes with their Elite stats, I don't know. This Halloween (and for far beyond) I'll be celebrating with a run in Zombies.