Have you ever watched a film and wondered how the director delivered the original pitch and why on Earth anyone would take a chance on it?
While that’s the crux of the concept of Dead Living Zombies, the final DLC in the Far Cry 5 Season Pass, I also couldn’t help thinking similar things about the wider content.
Sure, it’s witty, humorous, and very much in the vein of a development studio who pulled off the tongue-in-cheek Blood Dragon. But in the same bad and fiery breath, it’s one of the most dull, frustrating, and forgettable pieces of content I’ve played in some long time.
But it’s got Zombies…
Honestly, that’s part of the problem. There are so many games about our brain-dead friends on the market today that before long Dead Living Zombies stops being enjoyable because it has no real substance.
There’s creativity here, undoubtedly, but it all stems from the narrative which continuously takes digs at itself. The idea of a director magically dropping gas tankers and narcissistic statues of himself out of the air during your playthrough is genius and great and quite often draws a chuckle, but it rarely does anything to evolve the gameplay or make the experience memorable.
These moments just keep beating the player across the head with the idea that Guy Marvel is an obnoxious, egotistical Hollywood type who thinks his audience are as mindless as his creations. Something we figured out in the very first cut-scene.
By level/pitch/scene 4, I was drawing deep, heavy sighs, after being told to kill an unlimited number of zombies for no real reason other than ‘just because’. At this point, it felt like the development team knew that the concept had already run its course and they were starting to run on empty. Sure, the set-pieces change and the reason for being there is always different, but the core gameplay remains the same.
And that focuses around the destruction of mutation chambers, killing zombies, fighting a boss, roll credits. Mutation Chambers that are, by the way, destroyed by aiming and firing at multiple tiny little vials. Ubisoft Montreal couldn’t have made an objective more infuriating if they tried.
Dead Living Zombies is not a conventional Far Cry experience like Hours of Darkness and Lost on Mars in that you have an open, sandbox environment to explore. You just follow the markers, listen to the direction, and fulfill the intended vision.
And just five minutes with the DLC, it becomes very clear where the effort went during development.
It wouldn’t be so bad if the gameplay was enjoyable, but in many respects the DLC exposes Far Cry as a shooter. The constant need to reload, the slow, tank-like weapons, the clunkiness of movement, and the constant need to heal. The arcade-like fluidity of a Left 4 Dead or COD Zombies is completely absent, even though the wealth of enemies headed in your direction would see you certainly benefit from it. Shotguns do satisfyingly take down enemies, though I was prone to misfiring more times than expected.
Ninety percent of the time playing Dead Living Zombies, I was forced to backpedal or strafe to the side and pepper enemies from a distance. Even then, they’d still find a way to get at me and attack from all angles. And if they didn’t, then I’d somehow find myself getting caught on scenery and munched to pieces, unable to get out of dodge.
Unquestionably, Dead Living Zombies works best as a multiplayer game and that’s self-evident with the Score Attack modes and leaderboard opportunities. As a solo experience, DLZ is about as frustrating a piece of content as you’ll ever find and is a far cry from the other two packs in the Season Pass which are pure solo experiences.
Dead Living Zombies is by no means terrible. In fact, it might even be the funniest DLC of the three with the witty backtalking, the ludicrous, over the top enemies and sequences that crop up, and the crazy weapon types like the Shovel Gun. But for every joke that landed, I spent more time grunting and growling about the gameplay.
The boss battles are also pretty epic at times, but very tense and challenging. And that’s certainly not helped by the fact that once you die, you have to start the scene all over again. Another example of Dead Living Zombies giving us something neat but detracting from it almost immediately, seemingly without meaning to.
One day we’ll look back on the Far Cry 5 Season Pass and wonder what might have been. The potential was clear for all to see. The execution has left a lot to be desired.
+ Cool cut-scenes and concepts with fun narrative
+ Some lovely visuals
+ Clever gun-types and multiplayer possibilities
+ Boss battles are tense
– It’s dull
– Death means a reset of a whole scene
– Far Cry doesn’t feel suited to this type of game at all
– So many better zombie games out there right now
Dead Living Zombies
6 out of 10
Tested on Xbox One
Code provided by the publisher