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Fort Zombie Review

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How does something like Fort Zombie pass inspection? How does someone playtest something like this and say to themselves “yes, this game has reached the appropriate level of polish necessary for me to say that this game is fit for public consumption”? I want to know how it's possible, and who made it possible for a game like Fort Zombie to get made. But beyond that I want to know how the game can even begin to think it's living up to it's own hype. Just read this description...

“Targeted directly at the after-work gamer, with gameplay similar to Dungeon Master meets Fallout, players take control of a particular building in town, and begin gathering the supplies and survivors needed to build it up by day and help defend it by night.”

Now I don't know about you, but I happen to like Dungeon Master, and Fallout quite a bit. The latter even more so. So when Fort Zombie compares itself to these two titles, it's a lofty thing, and some very big shoes to fill indeed. I stupidly filled my head with visions of the game I wanted to play. Visions of ransacking the burned out remains of a zombie ravaged town, while moonlight crept in through the cracked windows... always just barely escaping the undead, taking my supplies back to my base to further strengthen my fortress of certain zombie death.

I don't know what this game can be compared to in terms of what it is, because I'm not certain I can remember a game that has lacked this much luster, but I can tell you what the game is not. It is certainly not reminiscent of either Dungeon Master, or Fallout. And to quote those games as inspiration unfairly handicaps Fort Zombie right out the gate. The other thing, is that what game is here, is terribly broken. I'm not a big stickler when it comes to things like graphics, but this game is phoning it in from the outset. The character creation is very simplistic, and none of the statistics aside from stamina seem to have any outward effect on the character. And the stamina thing is important, because if you manage to play for more than a few minutes, you will find yourself running constantly.

The opening tutorial gives you a quick glimpse of the pain you're in for, with simple things like grabbing items out of a chest, and equipping weapons either working in a very clunky way, or just simply not working at all. When you find yourself finally wandering through the streets in an effort to find some better weapons, supplies or guns, you'll confront your first enemy. The movement controls, and camera. The character moves with all the skill and grace of Gabriel Logan from the first Syphon Filter game if he had decided to swap his shoes for concrete blocks. And the camera is some odd amalgamation of Diablo, and Black and White in terms of ease to use. It's not very flattering to the game at all. A more traditional third person perspective would have suited something like this, and done the game a lot more justice.

Predictably combat fares no better, a quick swing of your crowbar lets you know right away that you're in for trouble. With no turn based combat to speak of, the game has decided to rip a page out of Morrowind's design ethos, and make every hit depend on an invisible roll of the dice. Which means your attacks can do varying amounts of damage, or just plain miss depending on your melee skill. And even though that's not the smartest choice when it comes to a real time combat based RPG in my opinion, I was willing to give that a chance, until I realized that the hit system was going to coupled with some of the worst hit detection I have ever seen in a game. The end result is that you'll miss almost all the time, but you won't ever know if it's the fault of the engine, or the character's stats that are responsible. And if you think for a second that the guns are much better, you are sorely mistaken, though finding a gun is an almost equally impossible task in and of itself.

Insofar as the Fort portion of the game Fort Zombie is concerned, the fort building is a misnomer. If you have the idea that you'll be boarding up windows, and giving other NPC characters orders, then get ready to board the first train leaving for disappointment city. If you do manage to survive the ordeal of the mechanics of the game working against you long enough to reach your destination.. you'll find that it's mostly worthless. At least for me it was. The game did such a poor job of even telling me what to do, that by the time I had reached the Police Station, the Prison, or the School I had no idea what to do. I would just wander the hallways of each building trying to find something semi strategic to do, but always coming up empty handed. I would end up at the “fort” of my choosing with hordes of zombies that I couldn't kill thanks to the game's wonky mechanics, in tow. I would then try to close shop behind me, so I could scramble some weapons together, and fortify my location. Within minutes the doors would collapse, letting dozens or poorly rendered zombies swarming in to chew on my poorly rendered face.

A terrific idea for a game coupled with a complete lack of competence when it comes to execution is a recipe for disaster. Fort Zombie is a testament to that statement, and should be avoided like the undead.

This review was made possible by

Steve Sawyer
Editor in Chief

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