The Clock Is Ticking
You don’t know when the outbreak happened, you don’t know what the source was, but what you do know is that now you and your friends are cut off from each other. The dead are knocking at your door, and if they aren’t a big enough danger there are other survivors out there treating anyone and everyone as a hostile, with extreme prejudice. The door breaks in, several shots are fired, and when all is said and done you are out of ammo and alive to draw breathe a little longer.
Making your way out of the bloodied hallways of the apartment complex, you find yourself in a downpour with gunshots nearby, and getting closer. You run, but to no avail as you are gunned down for what little supplies you were carrying, shot in the back; by your own friend no less. But don’t worry, you’ll have your revenge yet as you become one of the living dead, seeking only to feed on the flesh of the living...
This is one of many scenarios I encountered in my time with Contagion, a zombie FPS title with a focus on survival no matter what game type you’re playing. One mode really shined, while the others didn’t, and the same can be said about the general gameplay mechanics as well. Before I get into breaking the game down for you, I’d like to put heavy emphasis on a simple truth; this game is best played with a mix of friends and strangers, if you are playing by yourself with strangers you’re going to have a frustrating time and if you are playing with a full group of friends it’s going to be far too much of a breeze.
Variety Is The Spice Of Life... And Death
Contagion presents you with three modes; Hunted, Extraction, and Escape which are set across four maps; Aurora Estates, Barlowe Square, Cyprus Park, and Pioneer Express as well as one additional map which is exclusive to the Escape gametype called Roanoake PD.
Extraction and Escape are essentially the same, as survivors fight their way towards escaping the level while dealing with hordes of the undead. The main difference between the two, is that Escape has a series of more complex objectives like wire cutting through fences, finding alternative routes, etc. While Extraction is simply a mad dash to extraction points, hold off against a horde of zombies, rinse and repeat. Neither of these two modes are exciting in the slightest.
Where the game really shines is the Hunted gametype, the mode with the most true variety: Quite simply, every man is out for himself. Now sure, you might be able to group up with friends and survive just a little longer; but with zombies being attracted to the noise, as well as other players, you are still at risk even with a friend at your side.
The maps themselves unfortunately, are mostly lackluster. Aurora Estates leads you through a few bland suburban streets, with some enterable homes most of which are largely unfurnished, adding to the bland appearance. Cyprus Park has all the excitement of your typical walking trail, but with zombies. Pioneer Express’s eerie subway tunnels, access routes, sewers, and power substation lose their luster when you realize you are going in a circle, and a very small circle at that.
Barlowe Square is one of the best levels featured in a multiplayer game, Hunted is a very intense player versus player experience.
All of the other maps are bland, Extraction and Escape are both dull experiences, a myriad of technical shortcomings and poor design choices.