Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dead Frontier

Dead Frontier was released back in 2008 by the developer Neil Yates (also the creator) and published by Creaky Corpse Ltd.  The genre of this particular game was considered survival horror and an MMORPG, providing both single player and multiplayer modes.  Dead Frontier is a browser based game so you can only play it online, no offline mode available.  Being of very simplistic concepts, this game was definitely a different type of survival horror and MMORPG: no pretty graphics when a zombie came after you and you killed it, no awesome box office quality music, and no pay to play or pay at all.

Overall, from the beginning of the game to the never ending aspect of the game, Dead Frontier is something not to be mistaken for poor quality.  A player has the option to play in the default 3D gameplay mode or, through some tweaks, play in 2D.  There was the typical MMORPG concept of interacting with other players so that one can trade in-game items and hold conversations with one another.  The methods of conversing with others was typical of a game such as private messaging and forums, but there was one additional method: a chat room which was referred to as the CB Radio.  Along with this, there are outposts found throughout the city, in which these were where players could take a short break safely (away from zombies that were trying to eat their face), living, dealing with business, and even had the option to barricade themselves in the building.  One of the downsides of this was the fact that it seemed hopeless at times when you needed an outpost and they were so few and far between.  A nice aspect of the game though, was the fact that a player can forage cars, bodies, and even mailboxes for items - a similar concept to the ever so popular Borderlands franchise. 

There was a decent variety of character selection for this type of game, which was pretty impressive.  The options are limitless on what a person can play - from a profession, a job, or just a simple class.  As the game went on, it seemed like the gameplay actually evolved.  Now, in saying this, one might think: how can a game evolve?  Well, this game did.  Whether it be engine based or general feeling, this game did it.  When you start playing, you have a safe place in which you eventually wander out of and into the zombie infested streets.  There isn't a lot of zombies at first, in fact there are NPCs that are killing the ones that do get close.  the game is on a fixed camera view so you can't scroll around, let alone worry about the tile type of map, which can be good and bad in the sense of "where are the zombies at".  As you progress, more zombies come out after you and surviving seems to be a bit harder.  Walking through the streets, pillaging abandoned cars and mailboxes (even the dead bodies mentioned earlier), you can find a smallish variety of guns and melee weapons to help defend yourself against the walking undead.  Once you gain a level, all of your health is restored which can be a sort of incentive of kill-all-of-the-enemies without taking much damage - but if you do, it's okay, just hope for a level.  When you do manage to get to an outpost, there can be a bank, a market, and of course - storage. 

The music was a hit and miss at the same time.  One could not turn down the volume easily (if at all because I never found it) but it wasn't super annoying to listen to.  Continuing on this idea, the learning curve was a bit steep, but was easily remedied by either consulting the forums or asking out loud for help.  This game seemed to be driven solely by players in regards to the marketplace, thus leaving prices dependent on what others felt was right (even if it didn't feel right to you in the end).  On the plus side, most of the roaming outside gave you plenty of drops in your inventory so you can easily play the market and put up what you thought was right.

As I come to a close on this game study, a few things still need to be mentioned.  When you were in an outpost, it felt like you were playing a Flash based game.  Then once you made it to the streets, it felt more like a Unity based game.  This was pretty interesting to me because the entire game was made in Unity, so to get that feel of Flash in there was pretty amazing in my opinion.  When the server experienced issues, everyone was kicked from the multiplayer realm and stuck on the single player realm.  This was good and bad at the same time because it would disrupt one's game time but at least one could continue playing near where they left off.  Finally, Dead Frontier steered away from the paid membership idea and went for something more conventional: gold membership - easily earned through the game mechanics of a credit system.  Overall, this game is something to check out, whether you're interested in zombies, Unity capabilities, MMORPGs with zombies, survival horror, or free to play.  The graphics are pretty well done, the music is decent and tolerable, and the game concept - all when put together - creates an impressive gameplay experience which will be talked about for years to come.

If you are interested in this game:

Dead Frontier