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Monday 22 September 2014

Riding the tail end of the zombie craze

Published 29/10/2013 | 11:44

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It's not hard to see the game that How To Survive wants to be, or the much more hardcore survivalist zombie sim it could perhaps have become. This isn't either of those games though.

We've all pretty much had our fill of zombie-themed entertainment in the past decade, so you'd imagine that particular dead horse is well and truly flogged at this stage. 'Not on our watch', says developers Eko Software with their newest undead cash-in, How to Survive.

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Picture Dead Island as a twin-stick shooter.

You need food, sleep and water to fight, but the maps are tiny and well enough stocked that you're never more than a quick jog away from handling any of them. This can be even further mitigated with perks after a couple of level-ups, quickly making the whole non-zombie related survival element half implemented at best, and half thought out at worst.

Weapons are entertaining to craft, but unfortunately there is very little incentive to craft some of the wackier gear, as there is no good reason to trade in a rifle that kills pretty much everything in one shot for a weapon that is only marginally better. Ammo could have provided a good reason for crafted, but bullets are everywhere and arrows are easily retrieved.

Combat itself at least is solid; not great, but acceptable. To How To Survive's credit, popping zombies does have that all-important bubble-wrap satisfaction, and targeting is easy and precise enough - though zombie pile-ons are as little fun as ever, and it's a little depressing for humanity as a whole just how much more dangerous than us undead ostriches and deer turn out to be.

Enemies can come from anywhere, including sealed rooms and more than once out of thin air, and do serious damage. This is one of the very many poor technical problems that manifest in How to Survive, not particularly game breaking, but it will bug you nonetheless.

It's not hard to see the game that How To Survive wants to be, or the much more hardcore survivalist zombie sim it could perhaps have become. This isn't either of those games though, more's the pity. They could have been great.

As it stands, How to Survive is riding the tail end of the zombie-craze, a fad that is well-trodden and should have been laid to rest a long time ago. Steer clear of this title.

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