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Why State of Decay succeeds:
After playing State of Decay on Xbox Live arcade for a good few hours, I am fairly confident in saying it has become not only one of my favourite open world games but also one of my favourite zombie games.
What the State of Decay does so well is implement a sense of survival in it's gameplay. Early on in the game, it is made clear to you that while you may have a base with supplies that can be fortified, it is by no means safe. In addition to the threat of losing your fellow survivors you, the player, can also be killed at which point that character is gone and you switch to a different playable character. This instils a sense that no-one is safe in this zombie infested environment. It also adds an important layer of management. As well as upgrading your base and scouting other buildings and areas for supplies, you can also switch playable characters once you have gained enough trust with them to the point where they become your friend. This trust is built up as you are sent out on missions and via random events involving your fellow survivors needing some help. Other gameplay features include vehicles, scavenging, clearing out infestations, defending your base, establishing outposts and many more.
Perhaps most importantly of all, zombie killing is present in abundance. Whether it's due to how you move, whether you use a silenced weapon or if you drive around like a maniac, zombies will react to your presence and actions. The choice to include leveling of skills and specialisations mean that for many gamers this may well be the open-world zombie RPG they've always wanted; being able to customize multiple characters in a persistent world. After putting so much time into developing these characters you can see how it would be a blow when you push one of them too far and they're gone forever.
While this reasonably priced arcade game certainly delivers bang for your buck, it isn't without it's problems. The UI feels a little cluttered at times and there are numerous bugs that need fixing including NPC's becoming stuck and other graphical errors such as clipping. State of Decay isn't the prettiest game you'll see either. However, many of these problems can be fixed via a patch with also mention of new features incoming such as a sandbox mode and maybe even an online mode.
To sum up, while not the most graphically impressive or blockbuster of titles that you may play this year, I definitely recommend State of Decay. Few open-world games I have played contain such immersion, depth in gameplay and sheer fun, a point that Undead Labs should be praised for. For these reasons State of Decay is one of my favourite games this year and I cannot wait to get back to some good old fashioned zombie killing.