Please note that this is a review of a game in its Early Access stage. Features can and will change over time, for better or for worse. Its purpose is simply to determine if it’s worth keeping an eye on. Only purchase a game in Early Access if it’s from a developer with already published games to avoid getting scammed and non-rad stuff like that.
Being a pretty big fan of Tripwire Interactive, it’s no surprise that I was particularly excited for a new game from them. When I discovered that it was a sequel to one of the most fun co-op games ever made, I’d be lying if I said my pants were perfectly intact. After all, Killing Floor is a game that has quite a lot of fans, and one that’s certainly earned its reputation since its original incarnation as an Unreal Tournament mod back in 2005. Now, with its sequel available in Early Access, people are gathering from near and far to rediscover the sheer madness of arguably Tripwire’s most iconic game. But has the formula stood the test of time, and has the sequel changed enough to warrant a look…or a purchase?
First things first: This game’s gory. It makes 80s horror moves look like a season of My Little Pony by comparison, that’s the kind of violence we’re talking. If you don’t like violence, what the heck are you doing playing video games? Didn’t Jack Thompson teach you anything!? Yes, the pseudo-horror is strong with this one but it’s not to be taken seriously. The industrial metal soundtrack, ridiculous weapons, and characters straight out of one of them newfangled scary movies make sure of that. The graphical fidelity is nothing to snort at, either: It’s a very pretty game and a considerable step-up graphically from the previous entry. The game still performs pretty smoothly on my middle-tier PC, but lower-end systems may have some trouble. But that doesn’t mean that Tripwire have slacked off when it comes to video settings. There’s certainly a lot of room in the settings to explore for the sake of your framerate. This is an early access phase, however, so the game may be even more optimized by its full launch date.
Following on from the story of the first game that nobody really paid any attention to, this sequel is set in a continental Europe under attack by the grotesque “Zeds”. These super-soldier experiments decided to break out of their containment one day and take a human flesh picnic one day, and have rendered the United Kingdom into something resembling a nuclear soccer riot. As with the previous game, you and five other killing machines (not literally, although that would be pretty cool) are tasked with slaughtering these freaks of morbid science, and you’re paid handsomely for this effort, with each kill landing you a certain amount of cash and experience. With this money you purchase various progressively more bad-ass weaponry. At the end of each wave (the number and difficulty of which can be modified when you start the game), a mad rush to an unmanned trader pod (replacing the kiosk-type deal from the last game) containing guns, grenades, ammo, and armor awaits you. But be quick, because that French mechanical vixen isn’t staying for very long before it’s killing time once again. And oh boy, do the weapons deliver on the awesome. Buzzsaw launchers that can double up as a petrol-powered slicer and dicer, medical guns that can heal your friends and spray enemies with lead-laced pain at the same time, double-barrel shotguns that can straight-up remove every limb from a Zed’s body with a single both-barrels bonanza, sledgehammers with miniature shotguns inside the head, the list just goes on. Keep in mind, this is just the early access; there are still plenty of weapons that we haven’t seen yet! I’m getting tingly just thinking about it!
Another prominent feature of the Killing Floor series is the monstrous Zeds themselves: Grotesque unions of flesh and metal, each one different from the last. Personal favorites include the Siren, a banshee-like monster that hits right past your armor (Pow! Right in the health bar kisser) and disorients your vision, and the Skrake, a giant bezerker with a goddamn chainsaw for an arm. Other Zeds include an acid-spewing (literally) landwhale of a beast (think the Boomer from Left 4 Dead but with a couple of cleavers and a whole lot less clothing), an invisible stalker that can come out of nowhere, and a crawling Gollum-like creature with four more arms on its back. And you can expect hordes of these Tim Burton rejects in every wave. But the real test comes at the end: When every wave is defeated, a boss character appears with small Zed support. But it’s not The Patriarch from the last game. Instead, we get a raving lunatic with an indeterminable accent (I’ve got a fiver on German) who throws various kinds of grenades, dual-welds assault rifles, cuts into your flesh with his protruding artificial fingers, and even drains the very life from you and your teammates. Needless to say, newcomers will find him difficult. But stick with veterans, and you’ll probably survive his onslaught. Probably.
At the time of writing players choose between four classes (or ‘Perks’, as the game refers to them), with a further six promised by the developer. You’ll also choose between seven different characters, each distinct in their own way. Like the first game, each class uses different kind of weapon: The Bezerker class specializes in melee combat, the Combat Medic is equipped with guns that can shoot healing darts, the Commando uses military hardware, and the Support gets some good ol’ fashioned boomsticks. Each class has access to a different type of grenade as well, giving them all pretty unique playstyles. In addition, the perk system has been changed from the previous game: your general resistances and weapon power still increases with each rank, but now these levels come with abilities. Each ability level (unlocking every five levels, up to level 25) contains a choice between two, which can be swapped out on the fly. The game also currently contains three maps, with many more promised by Tripwire. It’ll also be mod-friendly, with a server mod that allows fifty players to play already a popular choice.
In summary, Killing Floor 2 is definitely an early access game that’s worth keeping an eye on. It’s already more polished than most full AAA releases in the last few years, and it comes from a trusted and competent developer that’s very good at crafting wicked sick shooters. Sure, not much has changed, but what else could you ask for in a sequel? Everything’s just as it should be, but made better. Personally, I’m looking forward to many blood-soaked hours slaughtering the Zed hordes, and even more mindless violence when the game is fully released sometime by the end of this year. As a great man once said, it’s time to save the world and spend dosh…and I’m all out of dosh.