Left 4 Dead is a very popular online game with zombies. Counter Strike is an incredibly popular online game with police and army officers, put them together and what do you get- Killing Floor, a simple but deceptively fun shooter born of Valve's Steamworks program.

Recently released in retail packaging rather than digitally via Steam alone, Killing Floor's premise is simple- shoot, shoot and shoot some more.

The plot to the game involves a military experiment gone wrong which produces armies of vastly diverse 'specimins', ranging from the terrifying 'Fleshpound' (does exactly what it says on the armoured carapace) to various banshee-like monstrosities and huge mutated spiders.

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The setting is the streets of London, which makes a pleasant change to New York. Featured in-game are a variety of streets and roads, allowing for a decent variety of places to hole up and defend yourself from.

The game also takes a walk on the wild side, with a few levels set out in the fields and some even taking place at night- when your flashlight becomes the most essential tool in your inventory.

Speaking of inventory, the game offers a decent variety of weapons, ranging from the normal variety of pistols to shotguns, assault rifles and explosives. There is even a shoulder-fired rocket launcher, which I found to be practically useless as the splash damage was minimal.

Each of the available player skins can also be equipped with a 'perk'- sounds familiar? - Which could make a certain weapon cheaper or make healing quicker etc. I favoured the 'Commando' perk- which made rifles and sub-machine guns cheaper and increased the damage from all rifles in general.

The game is designed to allow players to team up with up to six others online, or on your own in single player mode. The objective is to battle through wave after wave of specimens before facing and (through a million rounds of .50 ammo) killing the Patriarch- a rocket launcher-armed monster with a mean temper.

In between waves the team, which consists of police or army personel, can stock up on weapons and ammo at the 'Trader'- a woman who spawns somewhere on the map and sells all sorts of guns and ammo- for a price.

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Money is earned through killing specimins or through charitable donations from your team-mates, who are a lot more generous than in Counter Strike - a friendly armed with just a pistol is useless at watching your back when the specimins are crawling up the walls all around you.

Each wave of the match typically takes about 10 minutes to complete, though the game does occasionally suffer problems spawning the last zombie in a decent position, leaving players to hunt all over the map to find "that last flipping zombie!"

Another problem is that, unlike in Left 4 Dead, players can't see each other's positions through walls. While this makes sense, owing to the immersion the developer no-doubt wants to inspire, there is nothing more annoying than being killed while trying to link up with your team-mates, and in the dark it is very easy to get lost.

Graphics-wise the game is nothing spectacular. While the detail on the guns and enemies is clear, the environment itself is a little rough around the edges, and a couple of graphical bugs are present when turning a corner in the middle of a firefight.

The game also features a slow-motion effect which is triggered when a player achieves a particularly gory kill. This feature- 'ZEDtime'- is pretty useful, and even works in multiplayer, making your shots seem all the more powerful as you blow the limbs off the next horde of scary fanged things running at you - and adding a movie-like feeling to the game at the same time.

This feeling is also respresented in the spawn screen. If you are killed you go to the ghost camera mode, and providing at least one player lives through the wave you respawn at the start of the next, but in the meantime you get to watch the action through a gritty horror-themed filter, making even waiting to get back into the battle a blast.

News Shopper: Killing Floor

Sound is a bit of a mixed bag. The guns sound about right, with the .50 pistols a particular stand out, and they all sound brilliant in ZEDtime.

Less impressive is the voice acting. While gamers can communicate through headsets, the game includes a voice for each of the playable characters, controlled through a pop-up menu. The voice actors clearly thought everyone who lives in England is a Cockney however, as the voices have a hilarious Cockney slant and often come out with the most hilarious comment at the worst time- "I'm up to my balls in money" when surrounded by enemies for example, plus my personal favourite- "Stop squirming, I'm not feeling you up", when you heal another player.

The gameplay itself is fast and furious. Each wave comes within moments of the last, so the rush to re-arm at the Trader is always a nightmare.

Teamwork is heavily encouraged however, as two guns are always better than one and using your healing tool on another player is twice as effective as using it on yourself. The tool is also not all that effective generally, so players can't just camp and constantly heal, making movement a priority and each wave a very different experience.


Killing Floor is a great little shooter if all you're looking for is buckets of gore and a bit of a laugh. The short waves of enemies, varied environments and fast action combine to make a game which is brilliant in a short sitting, and the nature of the gunplay makes it great for all-round fun. This is well worth a try.

Score: 7.5 / 10

Good stuff

- Fast pace
- Great variety of monsters
- Good teamwork aspects
- Nice use of slow motion
- Lots of possibilities for modding

Not so good stuff

- Graphics are a bit rough
- Can't see team-mates' positions through walls
- Little or no plot