Mass State Of Decay Effect

Happy Weekend TAY!

It was summer-like a few days ago around here and now the weather has turned a little chilly again. My wife and I rushed to get the pool open but now it is too cold to swim comfortably.

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We also had a crazy storm here last Thursday which decided to kill a large section of our fence in the backyard. It was only a three-minute storm, but it packed a HUGE punch. I thought maybe it was a tornado (but it wasn’t). Sucks we have to now spend money to fix the fence, but at least that was the only thing damaged.

I started and finished State Of Decay: Year-One Survival Edition last week on PC. It is a better concept than an actual game but I *loved* the concept, even if the execution is a little off.

For those who haven’t played State Of Decay, it is trying to be a zombie survival game inside something that feels a bit like Grand Theft Auto.

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It isn’t a pretty game, it doesn’t handle particularly well, and it is somewhat buggy, but State Of Decay offers a distinctly different open-world than most. I was pleased with the simulation underneath. Most importantly, I was happy with the game’s concept of time.

So few video games put actual time constraints on players. Sure, they’ll talk big about needing to rush off to some goal or the game will use other devices like alarms and sirens to make the player think that things are coming to an end, except, we all know they are not. Unless you are doing a chase sequence, a timed puzzle, or there is actually a countdown happening, most video game players have learned to ignore the prodding in games to pick up the pace. We all know the apocalypse will only happen exactly when you get there.

State of Decay uses time more realistically and missions have time limits to them. If you miss helping out a neighbour fight off a horde of zombies, you will likely lose morale for your community and often lose the neighbours themselves. While the main story missions don’t have time constraints, it was still nice to see the world going on and falling apart without me being there. I felt more connected to the world because I had to choose who to help and who to ignore and this had more consequences than most games in this vein.

The big problem with State of Decay is the difficulty (yeah, yeah...go figure, Datacide complaining about difficulty). If anything needs a “hardcore” mode it is State of Decay. I was never short on supplies, I never used the upgrades at my base to increase my gear and abilities, I never used silencers (to avoid zombies hearing you), and I never took companions with me to help. Most importantly, I never had issues with morale at my base and we were always well stocked with materials. I felt not so much like a survivor but a hoarder. Hell, I only lost one of my community members through my direct (in)actions and that was because of an extremely unlucky convergence of three hordes of zombies and two juggernauts (giant zombies).

Without the difficulty and struggle, the idea of survival is wasted. The easiest thing to improve the game would be to remove three-quarters of the supplies in the world and to tighten up the time limits. I would have absolutely loved if the game had felt as desperate as the situation would have warranted, but that never happened.

Still, State of Decay: Year-One Survival Edition was generally fun and kept me hooked the whole way along. Just as I was starting to feel burnt out on the game, it ended. The game is much shorter than I would have thought and this is a good thing. Once you have the biggest base and it is fully upgraded, the wind goes out of the sails. State Of Decay is far from perfect, but it is unique and interesting enough to try out. The best part of State of Decay is the promise of what might be realized in the coming sequel. I’m much more interested in State Of Decay 2 now that I’ve seen the vision of the first game.

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After State Of Decay was put down (and not to rise again), I finally decided to play Mass Effect.

Yes, I’ve never played any of the Mass Effect games. I have a general dislike for RPGs and prefer action games to being part of a long and sprawling interactive story. It is just so hard to ignore the love the Mass Effect series gets around here and I was heartened to see the progression of the action portion of the game through the sequels. I’m hoping by the end of the series that I will be seeing a fairly intense action game.

I’ve been warned, by several people around here, that the first game looks and plays a little rough now but I wanted a full grounding in the lore, so what better place to start than at the beginning.

I’m still in the tweaking stage of the game and, at the time of writing, have now installed the Steam version instead of the Origin version in hopes of getting better mod support. The nice graphical mods for the PC version need the game to handle memory addresses larger than 2GB. Currently, the various programs to modify the game to access more memory are not working for the Origin edition. [Edit: Just before posting this I was able to get the mods working with the Steam version. All of these Mass Effect screenshots have the improved texture mod applied.]

I played a little of the game while testing the controller mod which enables the game to control like the console versions of Mass Effect (unlike the shoddy controller support included in the vanilla PC port). The game seems alright with the little I’ve seen. The story and acting are well done (the voice cast is already extremely impressive), though I am a little disheartened by the amount of loot I am finding already. I hate inventory management (likely the main reason I don’t play a lot of RPGs) but I’ll suck it up as I realize this is part of the genre.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to get the other mods working with the Steam version of Mass Effect and then I can properly dive into the game. My son is off for four days this weekend (Monday is a holiday in Canada and Friday was a P.A. day from school). I am hoping I’ll be able to hit him up for some Halo CE between all his homework.

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So, what are you playing this weekend?