Video Gamer Play // State of Decay 2 review – a soggy open-world loot...
State of Decay 2 review – a soggy open-world loot-’em-up with catastrophic bugs
There are times when State of Decay 2 is so buggy that it stops being a stodgy post-apocalyptic looting game and transforms into metatextual horror theatre. At one point during a fight outside a barn, a juggernaut zombie hits me so hard that the UI vanishes, as though punched clean out of my character’s skull. I try to speak to another human faction leader later, selecting unseen dialogue options at random, and accidentally trigger a civil war. The game features an extravagant array of injury types, from torn discs to punctured organs, and I half-wonder whether the developer is actually simulating the effects of a head wound through the very interface. How long will it last? Is this some unlockable hardcore option I’m not aware of?
I reload the save and, thank goodness, there’s the aiming cursor, but I have other problems to worry about. Doors that seem open won’t let me enter. Zombies keep falling out of midair in the distance, as though the Hand of God were literally sowing a wayward planet with the seeds of annihilation. I jump into a car to go clear out a nearby infestation, and the camera develops a Velma Dinkley complex, standing in confusion while I disappear into the sunset. Is the camera, too, falling prey to the zombie curse? Another reloaded save, and now my AI companion has become a ghost – he’s visible only on the game’s minimap as a teleporting icon who yells in my ear, shaking my nerve far more efficiently than the ghouls that roam the hillsides. I fire up online co-op to escape and, oh crikey, now the audio has caught the gremlins too – I can hear the twangy country soundtrack but when I clobber somebody it sounds like I’m beating a snowman. A plague of silence! Isn’t there something in the Bible about that? I quit the session to look it up and, perhaps mercifully, the game crashes.
All this on top of more continuous, less dramatic flaws – cars that occasionally jump skyward like startled cats when you nudge anything at greater than walking speed, vicious online latency, lighting glitches and a tendency for characters to get stuck on objects that has obliged the presence of an actual “free rewind” option. There’s something almost exhilarating about State of Decay 2’s sheer brokenness, the way it limbos under the launch-window bar set by Mass Effect: Andromeda – but alas, sooner or later the clouds part and you’re left with the mere tedium of the game within.
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