Killing Floor is a game about survival. You and five others shoot mean-looking guys until you’ve killed all the mean-looking guys. After a wave of mean-looking guys, you’re given a couple minutes to regroup and reassess, and then you’re back to shooting mean-looking guys. This repeats until you finish the set amount of shooting mean-looking guys on the server. After that, it’s victory and then you move onto shooting mean-looking guys on different servers. It’s simple, blunt, and very frank, and there’s an honest intensity in that. For a paltry $20, you will not be going wrong with this purchase.
If you value context, there is some. After a set of cloning experiments went awry in England, the military takes actions to sweep and annihilate all the accidents still roaming around. That’s it. You are dropped into infected zones and all you do is kill, kill, and kill, until there’s nothing left to kill. The back story is an excuse and it is an effective one.
And so, you’re dropped into the hot zone with five other strangers or friends. Teamwork is essential. It’s all about working as one unit, concentrating fire on the most threatening enemy units and supporting one another by using the various perk tracks. Every player can use any weapon, but specializing and leveling up with a certain perk increases aptitude and ability with certain guns and might dole out extra benefits, like being more effective with the med gun. There isn’t much in the way of restrictions; you can choose any perk at any time and concentrate on what you want to focus on at the moment. It’s a great way to encourage certain actions, because if you want to advance in the Support track, then you need to heal others often. It’s forced teamwork, but it is still teamwork.
After every successful killing spree, trade shops open up in various areas of the map, allowing you to purchase new guns, refill on ammo, and buy any other necessaries. The trade menu can initially be a bit confusing to peruse, because there’s a lot of stuff to click on. This wouldn’t be a problem were there no ticking timer between each wave, and eventually it stops becoming a problem entirely as you get used to the menu, but it could benefit from being a bit more intuitive.
After you have stocked yourself with everything needed to murder in excess, it’s another wave. Take out that wave, and you’re back to trading and maybe even tossing some of your cash out to the needier. And that’s Killing Floor. Each new wave becomes even more of a fight of desperation than the last, as the strength of each wave increases while more and more unique infected types join the fray. The maps are massive, making it fun to scout for more viable and forgiving locations. The tension ramps up very well, especially during the longer sessions, and it’s capped off with a Patriarch. It is a boss fight, and it is gleeful fun.
Eventually, it gets a little numbing. There’s not much to it beyond the killing. It’s wave after wave – a hailstorm of bullets and maybe readjusting to a new location. It’s a succession of murders, and at a certain point, one simply becomes exhausted by the entire ordeal. The game dials up the intensity to 11, and there it sits, which gets monotonous after awhile. It’s a game better reserved for shorter bursts than gunning your way to victory up until the crack of dawn, but if you really dig killing stuff, it might be different for you.
Killing Floor is extremely good about presenting killing. Every weapon packs a merciless punch, and the game occasionally slows down time to really show off the meticulous attention to detail gone into all the gun animations and gore explosions. Every pump of the shotgun, every cartridge ejection of the rifle – there’s clearly a lot of love gone into making the gunplay pack some serious crunch. Every shot carries with it some ample weight, and since I’m generally easily satisfied by the feel of the shooting, I’m more than impressed by how awesome it is in Killing Floor.
As good as the game is about cathartic killing, the game’s reliance on the Unreal 2.5 engine does show a tinge of antiquity. The game looks good, some of the texture work is great, the lighting is generally nice to look, at and the guns all manage to convey a sense of personality, but it’s clear that it is using an old engine. It shows, but the developers really squeezed a lot of visual flair from Unreal 2.5. Some of the other visual issues come in the way of general presentation. The game’s mod origins are still very much visible, as much of the UI and interface just scream for another round of polishing.
The audio is about on the same level. The guns sound great, and the failed clones all sound like they want to kill something, but the voice acting and soundtrack intrude on the atmosphere. The voice acting repeats constantly, and even though they’re very helpful in providing tactical updates, hearing the same statements loop on and on can get grating. The soundtrack suffers from being generic metal, and it’s just kind of there.
Killing Floor comes with a nice selection of huge maps and with Tripwire’s continued support, you can expect more free content to come in soon. If their dedication with Red Orchestra is any indication, then expect more Killing Floor. There are even community maps floating around, thanks to how the SDK was released simultaneously. Long-term value is one of the many deciding factors in purchasing this game. It’s already receiving more content, it’s cheap, and it’s really good about killing stuff. Buying Killing Floor is easily one of the best purchasing decisions you can make this year.