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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Review: State of Decay - Lifeline

State of Decay: Lifeline (2014)
Developer: Undead Labs
Platforms: Personal Computer (Reviewed), X-Box 360
Induction Date: 05/30/2014

State of Decay is an interesting but somewhat flawed zombie survival game that has been made better with the arrival of its first expansion, Breakdown, that provided the game with endless replayability by abandoning the story-focused limitation of the vanilla release and turning it into one mean game where raw survival becomes the story of the game. With this Lifeline expansion, the game returns to its roots by presenting a new perspective on its vision of the zombie apocalypse: you are now in control of a small group of soldiers who are tasked to locate important survivors in Danforth, a devastated metropolis still located in the Trumbull County area. The game's best asset has never been its storytelling and that problem still remains in this latest expansion.

This is going to happen. A lot.

The core of Lifeline is similar to the original game where you recruit more members to your crew, scavenge resources, saving survivors, and complete tasks given to you from the radio, all the while trying to survive encounters with the never ending supply of zombies that will always be there while you are trying to accomplish those aforementioned things. The main difference here is that your base, this time its placement is permanent, will now experience frequent sieges from those bloodthirsty zombies. These sieges work like the ones in the original game where you help other survivor groups protect their properties from a focused zombie attack, only that they happen very frequently and they are not optional. These sieges can be fun but soon, they become more of an annoyance. During the siege, VIP survivors would stand right at the landing zone in the middle of the base, ready to be eviscerated by the rampaging zombies, when logically, they should be hidden inside the building since they are not lifted up until the siege actually ended. It's the lapse in logic like this and your seriously flawed AI partners that normally drag this game down. Whether defending your base or running around the map, it often feels like you are baby sitting everyone. Even though most of your crew are military grade, they still get stranded when scavenging for supplies. And what are they doing looking for special zombies on the opposite side of the map? How is that beneficial to the crew's survival? Also, building outposts around the base like crazy doesn't even help stop sieges from coming since they just have to happen to accompany extractions.

The siege is on? Time to rush home and babysit...

Lifeline definitely ramps up the difficulty meter but sometimes, it accomplishes that unfairly. It is cool when the military tasks you to save a VIP and at the same time you hear from the local radio that a civilian needs help. It is cooler when you realize that sometimes, you can't get to both of them because people die harder and faster in this expansion. But it is not cool when you try to save the civilian only to find that person scavenging close to or on an infestation site! Since the game emphasizes heavily on the rescue missions and sieges, it does balance itself out with giving you the ability to request supplies from the HQ. There are times that I wished the game would slow down a bit and allow a bit more exploration on the player's part. Speaking of which, the map of Danforth is smaller than Trumbull Valley and despite the urban setting, the game missed the opportunity to allow the players to explore the inner city, which would have made for a very interesting and terrifying experience.

The mind-reading zombies will attack without fail before an extraction.

If you are new to the game and looking to expand your State of Decay horizon, the Breakdown expansion is a must since it elevates the game into something much more. Lifeline on the other hand inherits a lot of the problems from the base game without giving us anything substantially different from it. Still, it is good addition to State of Decay that brings at least some variety in terms of its gameplay structure and you get a new map layout. Your performance in Lifeline is scored so if you are sadistic enough, that adds to the expansion's replay value. Now if only the new Danforth map can be added into the Breakdown expansion... That would certainly make Lifeline a lot more valuable.

RATING: 3 out of 5

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