Ikea, Death, & Robots


If you’ve ever watched an 80’s sci-fi movie, do you remember all those robots and mechs? Not the flashy kind like Gundam, but more like Metal Gear. The ones where machines resemble humans or animals, but clearly robotic with their metal plating and circuitry. They varied in size: small as a crab to as big as a house. Well this game has some, and these robots are out for blood. 

Generation Zero is like most sandbox games. It’s open world, there’s sidequests, and it’s got online co-op (up to 4 people). And like most sandbox games, the story is usually stale. So unfortunately, it doesn’t hit the mark on having a good story.

The gameplay is the primary focus of Generation Zero, and Avalanche Studios is no stranger to that. The team behind the Just Cause series is the leading example of “gameplay over story”, and I’m alright with that. Not every game needs to wow me with its plot. It’s alright to only have good gameplay and not story. That’s what it is after all, a game. 

Image result for it's just a game gif

In Generation Zero you play as a teenager in Sweden in 1989. The game is a first-person shooter with some survival elements. You don’t have to worry about food or water, just your health bar. If you’re wondering about the plot, it’s about these teenagers coming back from a camping trip to find their home infested with robots and mechs. Everyone on the island has evacuated and it’s up to you to find out what’s going on and how to stop the machines. Pretty simple and there’s no cutscenes as far as I’m aware of. I still haven’t beat the game and let me explain why. 

No I didn’t quit. This game is brutal. There’s three difficulties: exploration (easy), skirmish (medium), and guerilla (hard). I’m playing on skirmish currently, and the terms “easy, medium, and hard” are the game’s way of saying how frequently you will fight the machines. Skirmish feels like the right pick because I wanted to explore and smell the roses without being shot at every 5 seconds. So why is this game brutal?

The AI can be terrifying.

You know how normally, AI’s in games typically have low fields of vision? In Generation Zero, if you can see them then they can most likely see you. There have been so many times where a friend and I will encounter a small party of robots only to be spotted within seconds, from a far range. Oh and by the way, these robots move quickly and quietly. They’re also armed to their metal teeth. And you know what? I like it! There’s a challenge and you’ve got to play smart.

I mentioned some robots are as small as a crab and, if you’ve noticed, the game’s cover shows off a giant mech (I’ll get to that later). There’s also these dog-like robots and slightly bigger mechs that run on two legs. Did I mention they’re silent when moving? Sure they’ll make robot noises time to time, but when you’re in a fight all you’ll hear is gunshots. But that giant mech…it has machine guns and rocket launchers and, from what I know, there’s probably an even bigger one.

One thing that I appreciate in Generation Zero is the flashlight. The game has a night and day sequence plus you explore bunkers in darkness. Having a flashlight is helpful and it’s battery lasts forever. You don’t have to worry about finding batteries and the best part, not having your flashlight die every 5 minutes. Why do so many games limit the flashlight? Why not have the flashlight be dim or just shitty with the ability to find a better flashlight later on? Also flashlights don’t die in 5 minutes!!! 

Moving on; the sound design in the game really helps build immersion. Your starting pistol quickly becomes overshadowed by rifles and shotguns (especially shotguns). These things roar like thunder and you worry whether or not the machines heard it (spoiler alert: they did). You can really feel and hear the power with stronger firearms, which is pretty neat. 

Image result for gun gif

Now as I mentioned earlier, the story is its weakest point. However, there are other additional issues. The game can get pretty repetitive with its quests. The game continually forces you to go to an area, search a building, and pick up a clue to progress the plot. At least you can find new weapons or gear if you’re lucky. The AI is also imperfect. While impressive, the AI can sometimes just be plain dumb. Their spawns can get pretty annoying too, like spawning directly in front of me!

Oh, and the architecture. I get that it takes place in Sweden, but apparently the majority of the homes looked nearly identical.

Ikea I guess.

This is one of the things that makes the game feel so damn repetitive. Thankfully, the environment and backgrounds are GORGEOUS. Overall, the environment is not the worst thing, but the identical housing is still a peeve of mine. There is also a level-up feature in the game with skill acquisition, but the level scaling is questionable. I play Gen-Z with a friend of mine, and somehow I out-level him by a few levels even though we’ve killed the same amount of robots. I also only play co-op so I really don’t know what’s going on with that. 

Overall, Generation Zero is a neat experience. Definitely try it out with friends, although I recommend waiting ’til it’s on sale. Good luck and skål!


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