“There’s been rumours of war and wars that have been, the meaning of life has been lost in the wind, and some people thinkin’ that the end is close by, ‘stead of learnin’ to live they are learnin’ to die.” – Bob Dylan
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Released: March 2019
Price: £29.99 (PC), £34.99 (Console)
Generation Zero is an open-world, survival FPS; set in a post-apocalyptic, 1980’s Sweden in which the government has been preparing itself and its citizens for the worst since the end of World War II. After being unexpectedly hit by explosives whilst on a boat trip the player washes ashore to find the local population missing and a variety of mechanical hostiles in their place.
Either alone or with up to three friends, the player must traverse the map, completing primary and secondary objectives, avoid and destroy enemies but also, figure out what has happened.
Generation Zero is primarily an FPS game, with minimal survival elements besides the threat of direct attacks, the character does not need food, shelter or batteries for a flashlight. There are a number of different weapons available, however, ammo is limited. Although readily found, it is usually in relatively small quantities, necessitating some level of exploration in between combat.
The player must also keep track of the character’s heart rate, via five bars that fill fairly quickly while sprinting; once full the character will slow down until their heart rate is lowered again. The base walking speed is very slow for this style of game and feels more akin to that found in a walking simulator making the heart rate mechanic mostly a nuisance.
The game features a variety of enemies, all mechanical in nature, but varying in styling, size and abilities. Hostiles range from the Tick, a small, agile, spider-like robot usually found in groups that boasts sharp talons and self destruct abilities to the Tank, which is a huge, heavily armoured machine complete with rockets. Players will also encounter Seekers, Runners, Hunters and Harvesters all with unique attacks and defence mechanisms.
Generation Zero is aesthetically pleasing, its art style is clean and lighting is executed well to add atmosphere to individual scenes. The game seems to visually portray both the eighties and Sweden accurately enough (to my uncultured eye at least) through the environment and objects within, such as wallpaper styles, cars models and other similar details.
Unfortunately, there was a lot of repetition of textures and assets which detracted from the overall feel. Similarly, the interior layout of buildings were often a bit too similar, even across distance, adding an undesired familiarity that detracted from the tension.
The soundtrack has a distinct eighties feel, heavily featuring synthesizers and keyboards, reminiscent of titles such as Stories Untold or Stranger Things and complimenting the aesthetics well. The sound effects, both ambient and in combat, were balanced and well-executed for the most part, helping to build excitement and a sense of danger. However, some, such as the player’s landing after a standard jump, seemed inconsistent and disproportionate at times which was often really jarring, breaking any immersion.
Overall, Generation Zero has a lot to offer, in particular, the unique setting and narrative, in addition to some fun missions and exciting combat, however, the game as a complete product is generally unpolished and has a somewhat unfinished feel to it. Unfortunately, the game has a number of flaws and bugs that ruin the experience as a whole and are a real detriment to a game that could otherwise be on a par with titles such as the Far Cry franchise.
Glitches such as enemies stopping dead in front of the character and instead of ripping them to shreds, simply waiting to get shot or leaves falling through multiple levels of roof and ceilings impact immersion as well as the gameplay itself making this game impossible to recommend at full price. However, it has an unusual premise, interesting enemies and a novel setting and fans of the FPS genre probably wouldn’t regret picking this up on sale – just don’t expect perfection!
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