Killing Floor 2 (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gareth F 02.02.2017

Review for Killing Floor 2 on PlayStation 4

An early incarnation of Killing Floor first emerged way back in 2005 as the by product of the fertile modding community that was centred around Unreal Tournament 2004. It was the first time that Epic Games had included a co-op component in its renowned arena shooter and as the name 'Invasion' might suggest, it involved fighting off increasingly larger and stronger waves of a hostile race of aliens with continued survival being the main objective. While it was fairly simplistic in execution it acted as an early precursor to the 'Horde' mode in their upcoming Gears of War series and provided the perfect skeleton for the original Killing Floor total conversion mod. Like most online games though UT2004's player population eventually dwindled so in the interests of preservation the Killing Floor mod found a new home in Tripwire Interactive's Red Orchestra series, which eventually led to a 2009 standalone release. Now fairly established, a second instalment utilising the Unreal Engine 3 landed on the PC in early 2015 (full release review here), a few months after the PlayStation Experience announcement that the series would finally make its console debut. Well, the time for PS4 users to catch a few Zeds has finally arrived.

Sometimes it's possible to determine exactly what a game is all about purely by its name and it's fair to say that Killing Floor 2 is one such title that sits very comfortably in this camp. So let's break it down. Killing. Floor. A fairly concise moniker that conjures up the mental image of grabbing a gun, shooting at everything that moves while simultaneously working hard to avoid certain death, which, by and large, is pretty much the gist of it. Devoid of any subtle nuance, character development or even a multi-layered narrative, it's an online co-operative first person shooter that goes back to the basics for some good old fashioned gun toting fun. There's a fairly clichéd story regarding a viral outbreak slowly wending its way across Europe like a malignant gap year student and how this man-made pathogen inadvertently unleashed by bio-tech company Horzine is proving to be impossible to contain. Like all the best videogame viral outbreaks it's leaving a fearsome army of Zeds (undead, zombie-like mutants) in its wake that need dealing with as violently and messily as possible. No further exposition required, time to tool up and get to work.

Killing Floor 2 operates in a similar vein to one of the earlier incarnations of the aforementioned Horde mode from Gears of War prior to its foray into tower defence territory. Doom looks to have had a fairly strong influence on the audio and visual aspects when taking the similarly gruesome character design employed on the various strains of Zed and the gnarly, cranked up, industrial metal soundtrack into consideration. While a direct comparison to the Call of Duty 'Zombies' does seem somewhat appropriate this does feel like a slightly more welcoming co-op experience than Activision's annual cash siphon. COD Zombies harbours a player base seemingly intent on scurrying off to do their own thing in isolation, that frequently get annoyed at any participant unaware of each precise step to activate an objective/Easter egg and more often than not, just won't bother reviving any downed teammate that isn't an immediate friend. In direct contrast Killing Floor 2 encourages camaraderie, applying first aid to those that need it and even lending a skint squad-mate a few quid in between rounds for a new weapons/ammo resupply.

Screenshot for Killing Floor 2 on PlayStation 4

While there are too many different variations to detail each single type, the Zeds themselves are a grisly bunch of mutated zombies that come in variety of shapes and sizes, share an innate instinct for homing in on the nearest potential meal (i.e. whichever survivor is within the closest proximity) and are seemingly devoid of inhibition given their propensity for walking around en masse completely butt-naked. The smaller Zeds have a tendency to swarm and overwhelm, ranging from the Crawler (think Jeff Goldblum in the Fly) to the translucent Stalker that is almost invisible at times. The Fleshpound is large in stature and looks a little like Iron Maiden's Eddie mascot, enjoys the occasional quiet walk in the park, spinning around and charging at non-Zeds while inflicting massive damage with his spiked metallic armbands. Similar in build is the Scrake, a slow moving lumberer with a chainsaw for an arm that can pick up the pace whenever he gets agitated. On the opposite side of the scales is the diminutive Siren whose terrifying screams are capable of paralysing anybody within earshot and let's not forget the Bloat, a waddling, obese Zed armed with a pair of meat cleavers and a terrible case of acid reflux that will temporarily obscure the vison of anybody unfortunate enough to get within projectile vomiting distance.

The final wave culminates in a boss battle, which is a randomised choice between one of two alpha Zeds, both considerably tougher than the horde that precedes them and both capable of regeneration and healing. There's the Patriarch, a scary looking brute who alternates between a heavy machine gun and a rocket launcher and is in the habit of cloaking himself whenever he's endangered. Alternatively it could be the slightly manic Dr Hans Volter, no doubt the person responsible for the outbreak and capable of shielding himself from damage as well as singling out a single squad member for some serious one on one time. This isn't Volter being friendly though as the unfortunate side effect of this uncomfortably intimate face to face is a health drain that's capable of prematurely ending the round for the recipient should the rest of the team not act quickly enough to break it off. Truth be told a few more boss characters wouldn't go amiss to mix it up a little but at least these two gruesome specimens make for a fun climax to a brutal and bloody tear up and are more than capable of wiping out any team that isn't prepared for their onslaught.

Screenshot for Killing Floor 2 on PlayStation 4

It's fair to say that Killing Floor 2 embraces and even celebrates its gory attributes via the inclusion of Zed time, which, for the uninitiated, is a brief temporal distortion activated whenever somebody pulls off a particularly sweet headshot. This manifests itself as a shared slow motion bullet time effect that provides a brief moment of clarity to reflect upon and appreciate all the blood being spilt in the immediate vicinity. Delightful stuff. It's not all about the weapons though as each squad member is also equipped with a flashlight as Zeds normally come out at night, a medical syringe (with a cooldown) for self-medicating on the go and a spot welder. A spot welder? Yep, it comes in very handy for welding doors shut to either slow down or direct the Zed flow to a particular area or, for anybody feeling particularly mischievous, sealing a less attentive team mate in one of the rooms. We all laughed.

While the co-op Survival mode supports up to six players working in unison the option of a 5 vs 5 game type adds a fun twist to proceedings as both teams get to take turns playing as the Zeds, with death forcing a quick zip to the next available specimen that's already out in the field causing havoc. For the benefit of the 4 or 5 people that might be familiar with the vaguely obscure last-gen Activision title Singularity it plays out in a similar fashion to the multiplayer in this, with the Zed characters being controlled and viewed in the third person to assist with individual speciality attacks. It's a shame that there are currently a couple of minor technical issues with this mode but that will get expanded upon later on in the review. Anti-social type? It can all be played solo if that's your thing but Killing Floor 2 really is designed as more of social game so skipping out on this aspect is to miss out on one of its strongest selling points


 
Tripwire has provided a good variety of slaughter-tastic locales splattered across twelve sprawling maps in a bid to provide the perfect environment for a Zed maiming session. Fans of John Carpenter's 'The Thing' might enjoy the opportunity to spill a little blood upon the ice in a remote Arctic outpost in the same way that anybody familiar with 'Signs' will get to experience the sheer terror of seeing legions of Zed spilling through the surrounding ten foot corn stalks in the remote Farmhouse level. There are suitably dank catacombs, Biotic labs and mansions to fight through not to mention a dilapidated prison, a creepy forest and even a plague stricken Paris, all of which get liberally coated with a persistent layer of blood courtesy of the delightfully named M.E.A.T (Massive Evisceration And Trauma) system.

Currency and XP is earned with each Zed taken out of the equation and between rounds one of the numerous shop pods scattered about the level will open up for a brief period to enable the refill of ammo, shields as well as the purchase of new weapons. There are ten different classes to choose from, which relate to XP earning potential tied to a particular set of weapons, but what is particularly nice is that none of the arms are exclusive to any class, so should another gun be picked up and used during a match it will passively level up the relevant class. Every fifth level provides two new equip-able class loadout options meaning that continued levelling up will eventually increases damage capacity and chance of survival.

Screenshot for Killing Floor 2 on PlayStation 4

While Killing Floor 2's core strength lies in its simplicity there are a few minor technical issues that mar the experience somewhat. The main bone of contention is the matchmaking, which can be problematic on certain modes when the 'Join a game in progress' setting is enabled as this more often than not results in the game locking up entirely whenever a match is joined and can only be countered by resetting back to the dashboard for a re-boot. While it's not an issue that impacts on the 'Survival' mode at all it does make finding a 5 vs 5 match a fairly tricky exercise in good timing as more often than not the game will just create an empty lobby then throw you into it in the blind hope that a few other stragglers might join (they rarely do). This in itself wouldn't be such a bad thing if it actually set up a match on the nominated preferred map specified in the settings (a seemingly redundant feature) prior to jumping into the matchmaking rather than the default one that has already been played umpteen times before and milked of all its collectibles.

Should a populated 5 vs 5 pre-match lobby actually be stumbled upon, the participants wisely wait until it fills up before commencing play knowing full well that the 'drop in, drop out' functionality isn't operating as it should. Patience is a virtue when there's killing to be done. It's a problem Tripwire does seem to be aware of and indeed, has attempted to patch in a fix; however, speaking from personal experience, access to this adversarial mode remains hindered until the 'Join game in progress' option is disabled. It's not a game breaking issue by any stretch, but it does feel like something that needs addressing sooner rather than later as all that waiting around when initially looking for a 5 vs 5 match starts to sap the enthusiasm after a while.

'Micro' and 'Transaction' are two words that, when combined, strike fear into the hearts of gamers globally and while they do make an appearance in Killing Floor 2 it's purely for cosmetic items, far from essential in a game that is played in the first person. With that said, Tripwire is to be commended for ensuring that the continued flow of content DLC will be provided free of charge to ensure the player base doesn't get fragmented. It's a promise they've already followed up on with the recent release of the Tropical Bash pack, which, besides the inclusion of a pair of new melee weapons and a hitherto unseen Zed mutation (the Gorefiend), is a new map called Zed Landing. Set on a verdant tropical island complete with an active volcano and crashed passenger jet on the beach (Lost?), it actually makes for a pleasant change to take out a few festering virals while the sun is shining.

Screenshot for Killing Floor 2 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Every now and again, it's nice to have the option to play something that doesn't crave a great deal of emotional investment and can be enjoyed with the barest minimum of cerebral input. Killing Floor 2 confidently ticks both boxes and thrusts itself forward as the perfect vehicle for the mindless slaughter of the digitally infected and does so in a true gore-heavy fashion. There's maybe a slight concern about its longevity when taking its repetitive, shallow(ish) gameplay and lack of modes/bosses into consideration, although regular free DLC updates should be more than enough to guarantee frequent returns for Zed duty when the mood suits.

Developer

Tripwire Interactive

Publisher

Tripwire Interactive

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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