Posted on 02 Mar 2017 by Kyle Johnson

Killing Floor 2

The Defence

Developer: Tripwire Interactive
Publisher: Tripwire Interactive
Genre: Shooter
Platform: PC
Review copy: Yes
Release date: 18 Nov 2016

The Prosecution

Minimum
Recommended
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.6 GHz
AMD Phenom II 3.0 GHz
VGA: Nvidia GeForce 250
AMD Radeon HD 4830
RAM: 3 GB
HDD: 20 GB
DirectX: 10
Controller: Full
Mod Support: Yes
VR: No
FOV Slider: Yes
FPS Lock: 120+
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad 2.8 GHz
AMD Phenom II 3.2 GHz
VGA: Nvidia GeForce 560
AMD Radeon HD 6950
RAM: 4 GB
HDD: 20 GB
DirectX: 11
Controller: Full
Mod Support: Yes
VR: No
FOV Slider: Yes
FPS Lock: 120+

The Case

The follow-up to the original released in 2009, Killing Floor 2 sees enhanced graphics, more money, and a higher pedigree combine in a hopefully worthwhile sequel to one of the most beloved zombie-slaughtering games of all time. No longer “just” a poor man’s Left 4 Dead, with 15 months spent in Early Access, does Killing Floor 2 live up to the success and acclaim of the original, or will it stand to be slaughtered by the angry masses?

The Trial

As a direct sequel to the campy Zed-blasting original, Killing Floor 2 adds to the mayhem suitably, while suffering from a severe lack of content. Offering just over half the maps and weapons compared to the original, Killing Floor 2 had quite the shoes to fill, but its malnourished feet never fit quite right.

Dem gibs.

Another obvious improvement made on Killing Floor is the updated graphics, and overall sound design of the game. When the Zeds start crawling and the bullets start flying, Killing Floor 2 stands head and shoulders above KF1 in providing a very visceral experience. Blood, guts and gore fly out of Specimens at an impressive clip, splattering all over walls and painting Europe red with ludicrous efficiency. The round music too is delightfully crunchy, and while it may not be something that anyone might listen to outside of the game, for what it’s worth, it does the job well.

When Zed time builds in later rounds, slow-motion headshots and the shrapnel from grenades combines in a beautiful, if gory display of warfare. The meaty blast of shotguns or punchy sound of explosives is also vastly improved on the original, and overall, the weapon sounds and Zed cries are far more distinct than their earlier attempts.

The most important part of Killing Floor, however, is the “feel.” Not just the atmosphere of the game, Killing Floor scratched a head-exploding itch with all the lovable charm of an 80’s B-movie. Unfortunately, I am unable to find that same gleeful joy in its sequel. Gone is the mediocre voice acting singing about Zeds and medkits, gone is the female trader who subtly jeers at you over the radio, and seemingly, gone is lackadaisical fun. In its place is an overly serious, overly dark, overproduced shadow of the original.

How about a dance-off?

Characters will instead bark out dull, uninspired voice lines, the trader has been replaced with an inanimate blue kiosk, each map takes place in the dead of night, and even the excessive gore stops being exciting after a while. Instead of conveying a sense of thoughtful design, Tripwire must have stumbled upon a runaway hit in the first game, and Killing Floor 2 feels as though it’s an incredibly safe offering, capitalizing on little of what made the original great.

Maybe this is due in part to the severe lack of content. As I stated earlier, Killing Floor 2 offers just 13 maps, compared to the 21 found in the original. This may not necessarily seem like an apt comparison, but there are few standout maps to be found in Killing Floor 2’s selection, with many community members and servers voting for the same four or five maps, compared to the wide variety of servers and maps found in the first game. By and large, many of the maps are just simply too dark at the base gamma settings, requiring tweaking from round to round to squeeze any enjoyment out of them.

In addition, the overall offering of weapons and equipment is much lower than the prior game as well. Even subtracting the DLC weaponry, classes have roughly double the guns/melee weapons for purchase in Killing Floor over KF2. Tripwire expanded upon the weapon offerings in the first game by selling weapon packs as somewhat pricey DLC. One can only presume that Tripwire intends to continue this practice, but even if they do, there is a lot of ground to be made up between the two games.

Yeeehaaa!

One of the more curious and divisive choices in KF2’s development was the “Zedconomy” update, an update that introduced weapon and cosmetic skins, sometimes obtained in random drops, but mostly found in crates. Crates that needed to be opened with keys bought with real money. Personally, I’ve got nothing against microtransactions, but adding in a loot crate system to a game in Early Access feels and sounds scummy. Cosmetics are fine, yes, but at least wait a few weeks at the very least to add them to your game, not in an update in the midst of the Early Access cycle.

All told, Killing Floor 2 runs well. The framerate and graphical issues that beleaguered the game early in development are nowhere to be seen now, though they have been supplanted with extensive load times and network issues. I did encounter a number of unknown crashes during my playtime, both on official and community-made maps. For what it’s worth, Tripwire have taken great care in improving the technical aspects of the game, and it definitely shows.

The Verdict

Maybe I expected too much from Tripwire out of Killing Floor 2. Maybe, after seeing the success of Red Orchestra 2 and the universal appeal and acclaim that the first title garnered, I expected that Tripwire would at least add more substance to the game, and hopefully learn from nickel-and-diming their playerbase with no less than 21 pieces of paid DLC for the first game. Maybe I hoped for a more complete title after 18 months of development. Maybe I hoped for something that wouldn’t disappoint me.

Case Review

  • Paint it Red: The action and gore have never looked better.

  • Force Feedback: The pure gameplay loop is fun, making for tense round-to-round survival.

  • Midnight in Europe: What good maps there are drive the replayability.

  • Microscopic Europe: But very few good maps to be found, and few maps overall.

  • Cost of Entry: Microtransactions prior to official release do not bode well for future development.

  • A Scarce Armory: Very limited array of weapons for classes.

3 Score: 3/5
A disappointing turn for the series.

Evidence

  • Graphics: Various array of options for godrays, ambient occlusion, real-time reflections, and more. One slider for film grain effect, plus bonus graphical options for Nvidia GPU owners.
  • Audio: Standard array of sliders for music, sound effects and chatter from the characters. Interestingly, there is also the option to enable vocals for the songs that play during rounds. Music is incredibly loud though, and there’s no suppression during VoIP activity.
  • Controls: No tutorial means that you’ll be checking this menu fairly frequently to remember little-used commands. Otherwise, mouse smoothing can be turned off, and all keys can be rebound.
  • Gameplay: FOV slider, but no real values, gore slider, HUD scale, and other options are found in here. Some options, such as fast weapon switching and boss health bar displays, are essential.
4 Score: 4/5

In today’s gaming industry – where juggernauts like Ubisoft and EA desperately try to one-up each other in who can make the most generic run-of-the-mill “please them all” video games in existence, Killing Floor 2 feels like a slightly ironic breath of fresh air. It’s rare to see a developer so fully devoted to realizing their artistic dream. Killing Floor 2 is a horde shooter, and that’s all it is. It’s a niche game and it refuses to appeal to the masses for the sake of appealing to the masses. All its features are well fleshed out and are right at home within the game, very few things feel tacked on – only the CS:GO-style case drops stick out. KF2 nevertheless does what a sequel should; it adds and improves on the foundation set by its predecessor without going too far off base.

The most obvious improvements over the now seven year old retail version of Killing Floor, are the much improved graphics, the hilarious gore system, better sound effects and everything else technical. Weapon animations are rendered at 200 frames per second, giving them that little extra point of authenticity for the gun-nuts among you. There’s now also a Versus gamemode á la what Left 4 Dead 2 first brought upon the world in 2009, where half the players on the server take the form of disgusting Zeds trying to ruin the human players’ day. Furthermore, a lot of small but important changes reveal themselves to you once you actually start logging a few hours with the game. Things like how, when you crank the difficulty up, enemies don’t turn into bullet sponges but instead move faster, hit harder and are given brand new abilities. Thus your weapons never become ineffective, preventing the gameplay from getting bogged down or frustrating. Tougher versions of each enemy type also have a better chance of spawning at higher difficulty settings – enemies you might never even know exist if you only stick with Normal. The new progression system adds more choices for the player rather than passive stats boosts alone, but I do wish there were more skill choices than only once every fifth level-up. Giving you a choice of skills already at Level 1 would help.

The list of improvements is extensive, but the core gameplay loop of Killing Floor 2 remains largely unchanged. Kill Zeds with guns, buy bigger guns, kill more Zeds. If this didn’t appeal to you before, then it likely won’t appeal to you now. Some have also raised concerns about the amount of weapons and maps available in the game at this point compared to the original KF, but that’s not really a fair complaint considering how most of Killing Floor’s content was added post-launch. Besides, developer Tripwire Interactive have quite a reputable record for adding new content for their games – free of charge – several years after release. Hell, they even released a content update with a new map, weapon and more just few week ago. And clever implementation of Steam Workshop during the game’s beta days has already spawned a large library of quality content from the community. Killing Floor 2 is not for everyone, sure, and it could always use a little more content – a couple of extra bosses would certainly be nice. But, you can be sure that the content will come, and you won’t have to pay a dime extra for any of it. For the price they ask, you get the best horde shooter on the market today.

4.5 Score: 4.5/5

Being someone who’s put over 250 hours into the first Killing Floor, I have to admit that its sequel has gone above and beyond expectations and vastly improved upon virtually every aspect of the franchise. The visuals are cranked to 11, the controls are finely polished, the music is absolutely perfect at setting the proper ‘Zed’ killing mood, the monsters are back and better than ever, oh…and did I mention the massive amounts of blood and gore!? Seriously, if you got the rig to run NVIDIA Flex gibs and fluids, do yourself the favor and flick that baby on and enjoy the carnage!

As with the previous game, achievement hunters like myself will be quickly inundated by the sheer amount to collect. Speaking of collecting, those special level specific collectibles find themselves returning to KF2, which is always exciting to discover with some good mates, all while slaughtering waves n’ waves of Zeds. Coming with official Steam Workshop mod support and of course, with all the special events that Tripwire loves to indulge us with, both combined should allow Killing Floor 2 to stay fresh for the conceivable future.

With plenty of classes, weapons, various Zeds, maps and “oh shit!” moments, and hours upon hours of fun with your best mates, or strangers alike. The perfect game that’ll scratch that “I want to paint the town red with blood” feeling; you can’t go wrong with ample amounts of digital violence, and Killing Floor 2 has that in spades!

Comments (5)


Posts: 11
Kyle Johnson
Posted 03 Mar 2017, 05:15
I think the variance in review scores here showcase the sheer difficulty in reviewing a multiplayer-only title like Killing Floor 2, or Rainbow Six: Siege or Overwatch. People appreciate games differently, and some of us can't really rectify poor business practices and the fact that it's just a very different game, like what Tripwire has done with Killing Floor 2. Of course, you turn this around, and I'm still playing Rainbow Six over a year and a half after release, whereas I couldn't wait to delete Killing Floor 2 off my HDD post-review.

It's hard to express the sense of "magic" you feel in a game, really.

Posts: 218
L Coulsen
Posted 03 Mar 2017, 13:17
That's precisely why we have the three scores over one. This is a clear example of that system doing what it was intended for

Posts: 128
David Pink
Posted 03 Mar 2017, 14:36
This, exactly this.

Posts: 128
David Pink
Posted 03 Mar 2017, 14:37
I wasn't hung up on anything other then the game itself, was it fun, how it looked, how it ran, the politics behind the game I paid no attention to, nor was aware of, it just is what it is, if I shat on every game because of what the developers or someone attached to the game does, thinks, believes etc. I'd hate everything :P

Posts: 218
L Coulsen
Posted 03 Mar 2017, 00:15
I'm trying to heal you, not shag you!

I was really lukewarm about this,m during the beta testing phases. Pretty much wrote it off completely, truth be told. But then it was only sale, and I was like "eh, what the hell?" and a friend bought it for me. And now, I've done a complete u-turn. Though, it is starting to, seriously, fuck me off, that I only EVER get fucking Hans Volter as the final enemy.

Every. Single. Time!