Killing Floor was released on May 14th 2009, and has become one of the most popular co-operative shooters available for PC. Originally released in 2005 as a mod for the Unreal Tournament 2004, Killing Floor received so much acclaim that they re-released it as a full game a few years later.
This game is set in London, which has been overrun by horrific creatures known as Specimens or Zed’s. These creatures originate from the Horzine Biotechnology Company, who previously were tasked with conducting experiments for the military using cloning technology. As all horror-based scientific experiments go, it fails horribly, and the subjects undergo horrifying mutations. The subjects then manage to overrun the Horzine facility and eventually escape into the streets of London.
There are seven different classes of characters to choose from, with each suited towards a certain weapon type, such as shotguns, assault rifles or explosives. There are an amazing range of weapons to choose from. Each class offers certain perks when you use said weapons, and you level up your class by the quantity of kills, damage that is dealt, and fulfilling additional goals, such as achieving head-shots for the Sharpshooter class. Each kill earns you cash, which you can then use after each wave of mutants to purchase upgraded equipment and weapons. Once you have selected your class, you are required to fight your way through a map of your choosing and survive multiple waves of mutants, until you ultimately engage and destroy the boss, known as the Patriarch.
This game has multiple methods of challenging the player. There is a range of five difficulties on offer being; Beginner; Normal; Hard; Suicidal and Hell on Earth. You can also choose the length of your game, with short, medium or long options available. With the longer game option, there is the opportunity to earn more money, which in turn offers the opportunity to purchase better equipment, essentially making it easier. Lastly, the number of players within your co-op team will directly affect how many enemies spawn in each wave. So if you create a full team of six players, you will encounter the largest quantity of creatures when compared to a solo or dual team. There is an extensive range of customisation offered within Killing Floor, allowing you to modify the game to the way you most prefer, from changing the wave limit, to fighting only one class of enemy. There are also mutators that impact upon your game in others ways, such as removing the trader. The extensive freedom on offer to create your game is staggering, allowing players to create completely unique game-play experiences.
The developers opened Killing Floor to the community, allowing for an immense influx of mods that were created and uploaded. Players have created amazing mods, from new weapons, maps, game modes, and even a game mode in which you find a vehicle on the map that you can use to take great pleasure in plowing straight through your enemies. It really provides this game with a huge amount of playability, and offers a vast amount of variety for game-play. Along with the extensive game customisation, Killing Floor relies on the mods in order to combat any repetitiveness and boredom, retaining a fresh feel each time you play.
There are 10 different classes of mutant in total, each with their own special actions and abilities, such as the “Clot’s” ability to grab and stop you from moving, or the Stalker with a stealth approach in their attacks. Thankfully though, almost every enemy can have their abilities nullified simply by removing their heads. While this doesn’t kill them immediately, after being headless for a short time they will drop. The variety of enemies is great, making for a challenging game in which you cannot simply rely on one method of approach. You will constantly have to change up your tactics in response to the different types of enemies that have spawned. Once you finally encounter a “Fleshpound”, you had better be prepared to fight, or to run for your life. A Fleshpound is a massive creature with spiky meat pulverizers for hands, who will rage, sprint at you and you will then end up beaten to a bloody pulp. You need to either be equipped with the highest tier gear, or work together with your co-op to deal with this beast, for they are not to be trifled with.
As this is a wave survival game, if someone dies, they must wait until the entire current wave is finished by those remaining in order to re-join. Once you have re-joined, you are reverted back to the basic weapon set you started with. While this can be disheartening, there is the option to return to the area where you were killed to pick up the weapon you were holding at your time of death, so long as another player hasn’t stolen it.
The co-op is where this game truly shines, as long as you are linked with a solid team. You can drop your obsolete weapons and money for the lesser equipped. If you are looking for a good co-op experience, you are better off organising a group of friends together, as you can encounter some people online who only care for themselves. As teamwork is essential, teaming up with lone ranger players greatly increases the chance of failure.
The multi-player works well most of the time, with a search option to find the type of game specifics you want, such as player limit or map, and then hit “join”. Most of the time it will work; you will join a game and play without encountering any problems. When it doesn’t work though is where it becomes really frustrating, by not letting you join without a specific reason, freezing or horrible lag, to the point where you will die without knowing how it happened. You will need a fast internet connection to play this game online, as the smallest lag interference makes it pretty much unplayable. This is due to needing every ounce of precision and time on offer. It is sometimes a coin toss to see whether your LAN game will work. While sometimes you will instantly see a friend’s game, join and everyone can play un-interrupted, at other times you won’t see it any game at all, and nothing you do will restore it.
This game is going to receive an 8/10. A truly amazing co-operative and/or single player experience, which is let down only by the frustrating multi-player connections at times. The graphics are slightly outdated now, but that matters little when the game is this much fun. For a game that has been out for six years, some may see the USD 20.00 (AUD 27.89) price tag as too expensive, but if you enjoy co-operative play on top of some solid game-play, then it is well worth the money. Even though the sequel is currently available for early access, Killing Floor has retained its enjoyment and popularity, and deserves the overwhelmingly positive user reviews on Steam. It has soaked up 122 hours of my time, and that is definitely not the last it will be seeing of me.