This one’s a tricky one to recommend. It’s good in that the melee combat feels like a massive focus, but it has some fairly large issues.
Yeah, the melee is clever in the localised damage, limb-removal and headshots. But the weapons degrade really quickly and the repairing system is arbitrary as hell; $2000 to fix a broken sword? What sense does that make when you’re alone in a sewer? Also, small thing, but it bugged me; when you pick up any ‘weapon’, including alcohol as a crafting ingredient, there’s a chance it’ll replace your equipped weapon. Sucks when you accidentally pick up a bottle of whiskey and down it instead of hitting a zombie.
Later in the game you get guns and let me tell you, they are utter sh*te. Without modding the game (or maybe choosing the gun-focussed character), guns are NOT worth using against zombies. A good fatal headshot mod fixes this, but makes special infected too easy. Weigh it up before using.
The Human Element
A note about the human enemies; they’re basically zombies with guns. 5 magnum rounds to the chest doesn’t slow them until the 6th kills them. They use cover and have unerring accuracy even when you’re running. Overall they suck.
The crafting upgrades are very specific – you need to use the right one for your character, or it’s almost useless – and the right ones make the game very easy to tank, even with weaker characters. Collect every loose item you can and don’t sell them unless you REALLY need money. As soon as you do, you’ll need one of the bits for a recipe, guaranteed.
Dancing Around The Point
It may sound like I’m complaining a lot, but these things are all peripherals to a remarkably solid close combat system. I’ve not tried the ‘analog’ controls, but even the keyboard ones allow a very fluid fighting style with minimalist controls; dodging, jumping and crippling hits are all easy to learn and tricky to master meaning that you can spend hours on end practising against the infinitely-respawning enemies.
Choose your character carefully as it will completely dictate your playstyle; a bold move for a co-op game like this, but it adds replayability enough to try all 4.
Single player can get a bit grating at times, not for difficulty, just because it is made as a co-op. Cutscenes, dialogue and even the death system are all geared for multiple players. A lot of these things should have been tweaked to make single player seem as legitimate as co-op, but it’s not deal-breaking.
Give this a go, especially with a friend or three.