My biggest love-hate relationship with Killing Floor is its heavily modified Unreal Engine 2.5 base. The engine can be highly unstable at times, leading to critical errors, SDK crashes, and random shutdowns to desktop. This doesn’t happen frequently, but you have a very good chance of experiencing it if you ALT + TAB from game to desktop frequently. The first time will be fine; second time will yield a few performance stutters as the game tries to awake from being minimiZED. The third time is when you’re really pushing it, and if you don’t crash immediately, you will almost always experience a critical error somewhere during the match.
Killing Floor does have a ton of tweaking options, including windowed mode to counteract something like this…but it suffers from the same thing. If you ALT + TAB windowed mode, the Killing Floor screen will go black as if it’s in fullscreen, and do identical functions, even though it shouldn’t in windowed. It’s perhaps the most annoying downside about Killing Floor. You are restricted to having the game window as the only thing on your screen. People who join late or die, and want to switch their song, check email, or search the web will really be playing the odds. No one wants to sit there and watch their teammates kill 300+ ZEDs without contributing anything.
Let me be straight…Killing Floor has a TERRIBLE user interface, especially when searching for games. Adding and removing filters, refreshing, joining a full game, and/or getting disconnected will result in the entire of list of available servers to disappear and reappear. This is the same system Team Fortress 2 uses for querying the master server, and I hate it. Instead of updating player stats like ping, map, or amount of players, the entire list is refreshed so you have to wait for it to list every server again. Maybe I’m being picky, but when you’re trying to join a game with 5/6 players, and others beat you to the one spot, having to wait for the entire server list to populate gets very bothersome very quickly.
UPDATES AND DEVELOPER SUPPORT
Killing Floor has seen massive overhauls since it was first released in 2009. Perks and weapons have been nerfed, AI has been buffed with extra tweaks, new maps and easier mod support tools have been added, and advanced tactics have been invented and taken away to keep the game fresh after all this time. Where once you could surround and kill the Patriarch with chainsaws (even on hell on earth), the most recent update has given him a 360 knockback swing. Pipe bombs have been nerfed and increased in price to avoid spam, objects and exploits have been removed, and the game even despawns ZEDs when it knows you are trying to cover the distance to the Trader.
“Oh, come on. Keep up, mate, will ya’?”
As you can see, there are a ton of achievements. New ones are added during every event to make sure veteran players have something to strive for. It takes a huge chunk of time and dedication to get most of these, as there are only about 30% of them which can be classified as easy to get. The rest you will have to work diligently for, and keep hammering away.
So what is the cost of all of these updates? Nothing. They are all free. Maps, skins, new weapons, community made items, game updates, events (like the Summer Sideshow Event, Halloween Outbreak, and Twisted Christmas) are all complimentary. The only things you pay for (if you wish) are DLC costumes to change the look of your character, which have zero impact on gameplay, and are 100% cosmetic. This is how you do DLC people.
“I’d rather kiss a pig!”
Tripwire and VALVe typically hold events and promotions together, and one of the best crossovers was during the Potato ARG event which took place a few weeks prior to the release of Portal 2. Tripwire created an Aperture map with new achievements, and the Trader reskinned to GLaDOS, with a£70,000 potato added into the game.
At the time of writing, Killing Floor is hosting the Summer Sideshow Event yet again, which is why all of the ZEDs look like something out of a carnival. The first ever playable female character named Ash Harding was also released during this time featuring a new female voice and unique quotes only spoken by her (the rest of the male cast talks in the exact same voice and manner, with the same lines).
When it comes to developer support, rest assured Tripwire will be watching and listening to the community. You don’t become one of the last few respected and love gaming developers overnight, and continually supporting a game (which by all accounts can be classified as an indie game) three years after release with free content is the way to do it. Just like VALVe supports TF2, so does Tripwire with KF.
If you have made it this far, congratulations, you now know the essentials of Killing Floor. Yes it is extremely long, but a game like this can’t be reviewed in a week, especially considering its all based around online multiplayer. Since it was released on Steam in 2009, the game has undergone massive changes in virtually every aspect. Tactics and strategies change almost monthly, and content is added at least three times a year to keep it fresh (not to mention mod content created by the community). In my opinion, a review only matters if you play the game thoroughly, and I wholeheartedly believe I have done that (my Steam stats sure agree with me!).
All that is left is for you to go and buy the game. Unfortunately it doesn’t have a demo, but the best game I can compare it too is Payday: The Heist (another great coop shooter). The only real difference is that instead of cops you shoot ZEDS, and instead of four perks, there are seven.
The time couldn’t be better, as the Steam Summer Sale is going on right now. Get a few copies, gather your friends, and shoot you way clear of a ZED outbreak.
During release I would’ve given Killing Floor a 7.5/10 at best. Now it’s a solid 9. Hands down one of the best coop games I have ever played and will continue to play, a rarity in itself. Bravo Tripwire!
“‘Scuse me, mate…let’s dig in, right here!”