When video game modding became popular in the late ‘90s, it was practically unknown to have a popular project evolve into a full game. With the success of both Team Fortress and Counter-Strike, both of which began as modifications for Half-Life, developers around the world soon discovered their basement hobby could also blossom in the spotlight. One particular game which gave modders a platform to accomplish this was Unreal Tournament 2004, from which the total conversion mod Killing Floor was birthed. Although afflicted by clunky movement, unsatisfying gunplay and networking issues, the ‘Killing Floor’ mod proved popular with players, capitalising on the wave-based Call of Duty: Zombies formula years before it was even a thing. The mod was adopted by Tripwire Interactive in 2009 and received a full release on Steam later that year. Along with some structural improvements, Tripwire managed to keep the game alive, supporting it with new content for over five years.
It’s now seven years later and Killing Floor 2 has seen a full release on Steam and Playstation 4. This version of the game has been built from the ground up, leaving behind the wonky engine and hideous user interface the first one embodied. Developed on a modified version of Unreal Engine 3, the game expands on the basis of wielding high-powered weapons to stay alive against increasingly dangerous hordes of monsters in a post-apocalyptic European environment. It’s coated in a glitzy new paint job, dropping the stark grindhouse ascetic the original had in favour of a more futuristic look.
With a new game comes new possibilities, as the map design now feel more responsive to player feedback. The biggest problem with the original Killing Floor’s maps is they all looked the same; a dishevelled mess of brown and grey that ultimately led to great repetition. Now, each map has its own image. Some feel inspired by horror movies, while others take a more science-fiction approach. There’s even one map that takes inspiration from hell itself! But even with the new content, Tripwire have not forgotten about what makes Killing Floor such a charming shooter in the first place; its characters. Fan favourites such as Mr. Foster and Reverend Alberts return, while new faces such as Aussie rockabilly Rae Higgins and chivalrous knight Tom Banner will join the survivors. Along with the old survivors, all the enemies from the first game also return with a new design to look beefier and creepier than ever. The Patriarch returns as a heavily mutated creature, brandishing a new arsenal of weapons including a powerful minigun and rocket launcher. Hans Volter is a new boss enemy who utilises poison gas and frag grenades, so players must be quick on their feet to avoid being caught in his traps. It’s a 50/50 chance on which one players will be contesting in the last round, so it helps to be prepared for either situation.
Killing Floor 2 brings back many of the popular classes from the first game, along with some new ones:
- The Berzerker, a melee and heavy weapons class
- The Commando, who uses assault rifles to focus on smaller enemies
- The Support, utilising shotguns and can weld doors shut
- The Field Medic, whose job it is to keep everyone healthy and alive
- The Demolitionist, an explosives-oriented class to take down the bigger enemies
- The Firebug, a pyromaniac wielding a flamethrower
- The Gunslinger, a rootin’ tootin’ pistolero
- The Sharpshooter, a sniper who sits back and picks enemies off from afar
- The Survivalist, a jack-of-all-trades, master of none
- The SWAT, who specialises in tactics, submachine guns and armour
Each class was added over the 18 month period the game was in early access for, and I recently began to notice just how seriously Tripwire were taking advice and feedback from the community in order to balance these perks. They haven’t quite hit a perfect equilibrium yet between each one, as both Firebug and Survivalist feel weak, but I’m confident finding the right balance for these classes will still be a top priority for Tripwire in the coming weeks. The variety in weapons is small but distinct, as each class manages to fit its own role well. There are some grinding issues when you reach the higher levels, but it feels satisfying enough to complete and will provide excellent replay value as you improve them.
Along with the traditional co-op, there also comes a new versus survival game mode. Six players on the survivor team clash with six players on the specimen team. For such an obtuse mode, the mode is well-polished; each specimen feels satisfying to control and skilled teams can create many interesting opportunities for play. It does, however, leave a lot to be desired. Amidst troublesome networking issues, a lot of versus games heavily favour the human team until the final round, which leaves the build-up rounds very tedious and unpleasant for the specimen team. Ultimately, the versus game mode has a lot of potential but is still littered with many issues that leaves it very unpopular with players.
If you were never a fan of the original Killing Floor due to the shifty engine or lack of user-friendly mechanics, Killing Floor 2 is a great chance to reawaken your hunger for action. Everything is simplified but not in a way that you’d feel your hand being held. The higher difficulties still cripple your chances for success and, with a greater reliance on randomly generated enemy patterns, create more of an “adapt to survive” mentality. With the level design now preferring sticking to one area rather than nomadically moving from spot to spot, teams will have to strategically decide where the best place to hold out for the wave is.
Things ahead are looking good for Tripwire. As with the original game, Killing Floor 2 is expected to receive a lot of post-release content for fans to enjoy, including new maps, characters, weapons and enemies. They hold in-game events to release this type of content during the summer, Halloween and Christmas periods, so it should be expected that they will uphold this tradition. They’ve built the game on a solid foundation and are committed to adding to it over the next few years. The ghastly combination of blood-pumping music, violent weaponry and apocalyptic maps make for a remarkably versatile package. The game is now free from Early Access and it would suit you well to try it out.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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