Death of the Critic

The Backlog - Killing Floor

Written by: Tom Blaich


I have a confession to make. Like many of you reading this, I have a list of games that I’ve been meaning play for years. I have way too many games on Steam, and a stack of cases sitting next to my TV. Close to five hundred games now. Maybe more. It makes me feel guilty. I haven’t touched 90% of them in one way or another. I need to fix that. So this week, I dug deep into my backlog and pulled out a game. I want to play all of them; I’ve just never had the chance. Now’s the time.

Some things are just good ideas. Cheese pizza, Arnold Schwarzenegger, kung-fu movies, and of course, zombie shooters. There is something so satisfying about killing zombies, possibly the distinct lack of morality in slaying the undead or the huge number of enemies that you come across, or the absolute ease by which they are felled.

We’ve seen countless games use them as bullet sponge enemies, but ever since 2008’s
Call of Duty: World at War and it’s bonus “Nazi Zombies” mode, there has been a place in our games for zombie wave-based shooters.

Tripwire Interactive aimed to fill that gap with
Killing Floor, a game that nixes the endless waves in exchange for a wider enemy variety and buckets of gore spilling across the screen. In some ways, these changes are welcome, but the addition of inventory management, however basic, along with sometimes too short matches leads to a game that left me wanting.

There were certain aspects that I really liked, like the RPG-esque, class leveling system that rewarded distinct playstyles, or the gratuitous slow-mo, or the crazy enemies, but it was all cheapened by little, annoying details. I felt like by the time that I had saved up my money and got the right gear, the game was almost over, and that sometimes the classes felt too limiting. I wanted to be able to do more, but I was being held back.

Compare it to
Call of Duty, which let’s you unlock different segments of the map, get powerups, upgrade your weapons, and build strange machines and find secrets. Here you shot zombies and bought the most expensive gun for whatever class you were currently playing as, then waited a few more rounds for the match to end. Each map and experience started to feel so similar to me that I didn’t have the drive to play anymore.

The saving grace here is the heavy emphasis on the co-op (and the fact that zombies look really cool when you blow their heads off in slow motion). Harder levels demand the inclusion of friends to conquer, and as always, co-op is fun. You can never go wrong with four friends playing together in a game. But that’s less the game being good, and more hanging out with friends is fun. Which, yeah, of course.

But what happens when you have no one to play with? Well, then you might as well not play the game at all.



Tom has been writing about media since he was a senior in high school. He likes long walks on the beach, dark liquor, and when characters reload guns in action movies.

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Images courtesy of Tripwire Interactive

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