How is TIGSource absent of what could be the greatest independent post-apocalyptic sandbox-game ever!?
Ska Studios, the maker of the soon-to-be released XBLA game “The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai,” holds the title for perhaps the greatest free zombie game to date. Survival Crisis Z mixes the free-roaming, do-what-you-want aspects of games like Grand Theft Auto, and the post-apocalyptic zombie/infected scenario from movies like 28 Days Later and I am Legend.
The game has two main game-types: story and arcade. In arcade it is very simple: you will simply run around the streets of a city as the only survivor, facing ever increasing numbers of zombies until you die. This mode often only lasts a few minutes, and offers rewards for high-scores ranging from new mini-games available from the menu to a character editor for the campaign.
On to story mode:
As the main Character, you roam the city, trying to survive the outbreak in hopes that help will arrive. You aren’t alone either: other survivors like yourself have formed into clans, and the city’s police force has even set up a few strongholds.
For awhile, the city might seem peaceful almost, with only one ore two of the infected attacking at once. But wait until nightfall, and the streets will literally be crawling with them. Will you stay with other survivors in a stronghold? Or will you try to keep moving or hole up by yourself?
The “living city” aspect of SCZ is amazing, better even than many commercial games that have attempted the same thing: you’ll come across police patrolling the street, or even walk straight into shootouts between fighting factions. You can even interact with these factions by visiting various strongholds and ask for a job. These jobs range from simple “take this package across town” to rescue missions to even taking out entire other factions’ strongholds. As you do these missions, the various factions of the world will treat you differently based on how much they like you.
You don’t need to follow any sort of storyline however (although, if you want to escape the city, you will have to at some point), and there are plenty of things to do. You can simply explore: looting bodies as you go around the randomly-generated city, or even venture into the dark sewers and try to flush out the zombie invasion. Or you can run a personal trade-route: purchasing supplies for cheap at one stronghold, and then traveling to another where they will fetch a better price. You can use any money you get to purchase new weapons, supplies, or training. Yes, I said training. SCZ has a rpg-like system of several skills that you can develop. From personal healing to bomb-making, these skills can then be used in numerous ways to your advantage.
During all your travels throughout the city, you’ll even begin to pick up other lone survivors like yourself, who will travel along with you and even fight alongside. You’ll have to keep an eye on their health however: if they are bitten and not treated within a few hours, they might turn on you and attack.
The zombies of the game range from the fast, newly-infected variant from 28 Days Later, to the slow, shambling-yet-hard-to-kill version from the Zombie films of old. There exploding zombies, child zombies, dog zombies, giant zombies, and of course zombies that you always think you’ve killed, and then they get back up and attack again (much like those damn “magic” birthday candles).
Another fun aspect of the game is that you (and any “crew” that you have collected) can attempt to take over other stronghold for yourself. Sometimes this entails protecting it against a massive flood of the infected, and sometimes you must kill the current owners who are less than pleased to be evicted…
There are three “campaign/levels” in the game, and each is progressively harder than the last. So if you want an awesome survival-horror game for free, and you’re not a fool with Vista such as myself, look no further than Survival Crisis Z (or if you have Vista, do as I do and throw SCZ on a thumb-drive and play it on a friend’s computer with XP).
Also, although this version of SCZ doesn’t have multiplayer, who knows what lies around the corner…?
EDIT: for Vista users, there is a supposed fix, although it has only worked for some of those who have tried it. See the comments for this post if you want to try it for yourself.
TIGdb: Entry for Survival Crisis Z