A look at some of the zombie mods to grace the Source engine.
Posted by SteveUK on May 5th, 2009
Over the last few years zombie mods have gained popularity. Zombie mods usually have similar gameplay mechanics and some have their own unique quirks; for example, Zombie Master: Source has an RTS element where a player has control over the zombies.
Garry's Mod itself has resulted in a few gamemodes of its own, like a mod of a mod. The most popular of these is Zombie Survival, which is actually very simple. One player spawns as the zombies, the rest have guns. The zombie player must kill all the other players and there's no real way to "win". Most of the time the zombies will win, but in fact, you really have lost.
The developer of an old gamemode ReDead, which as far as I can tell is a buggy and laggy zombie gamemode, has decided to make a new gamemode for the upcoming Fretta Gamemode Base which I mentioned in a previous blog post. This is a lot like ZS in ways, that being if you die you become a human-controllable zombie, and that kills upgrade your weapons; but unlike ZS it has AI zombies to watch out for which I most definitely welcome.
SNPCs (scripted NPCs) are extremely hard to get to work properly 70% of the time due to there being little-to-no documentation on them. However, despite these possible shortcomings this in-development gamemode has done well. You can preview it by getting the Garry's Mod beta (see the Fretta post) or joining game1.facepunch.com from within Garry's Mod.
It's not really fair to critically analyse gamemodes since there's only so much you can do with the Lua scripting implementation inside of Garry's Mod which really does limit how well you can do things. So I'll leave that up to you to decide whether you like them or not.
Zombie Panic is one of the few mods that have been released on Steam, and to be honest I don't see how. Well, now that I think about, a mod with Steamworks should not be an indication of mod quality. The mod is quite reminiscent of the Garry's Mod gamemode Zombie Survival which I got bored of extremely quickly, the entire gameplay is a random player spawning as a zombie while the others get guns and try and kill the other zombies and survive in the process.
This game seems extremely easy when you're on the human side, and as you'd expect it's extremely hard when you're the only zombie. As soon as I typed that sentence I can imagine a million 13 year olds commenting on this telling me I'm a n00b and I suck, well unfortunately it's what makes this game hard to get into. Zombies seem to make a lot of noise, a lot more than humans do which I think makes it little bit harder for zombies seeing as soon as a human hears you they'll turn around and pound you with bullets. It's a sight you get used to.
On humans, it still has its fair share of frustrations. The more experienced players will know as soon as they spawn where the uber powerful guns are whilst you're limited to a low powered pistol which requires a couple of magazines to kill a zombie. So, unless you play the game enough you're not going to have much fun at all, once you've played for a few hours you might get used to it but I lost patience.
Final Verdict: 5/10. It has some very nice levels and textures, gameplay needs sorting though.
Zombie Master is the mod I mentioned above with the strategy elements. These RTS elements are pretty basic and don't really affect the gameplay that much, it would be the same if it was entirely controlled with the AI that already exists in the Source engine; the exact thing that's meant to make it different really doesn't make it feel different unless you're the one in charge.
When I first connected to a server it asks you which genre of game you prefer, if you were primarily a RTS or an FPS gamer. I'm sure if you click RTS you have a chance of becoming one next round, but being the FPS player I am, I clicked the FPS option making it so I would focus on the FPS elements. Though, from here it seems that they focused mainly on the RTS element of the game.
Other than the RTS elements the game is very bland and the rarity of ammo is painfully excruciating at best. If you find a pistol, it's only gonna come with a single loaded mag. Sure it's "realistic" but it sure isn't "fun" is it? On discovering the lack of ammo, you try and find more but none is to be found, which purposely puts the game in favour of the zombies, unless you're brave enough to face a horde of zombies with whatever melee weapon you have available.
I got bored of this in less than a map's time, it really doesn't appeal to me at all as an FPS fan. Sorry guys.
Final Verdict: 3.5/10. That's just for the RTS part.
ZombieMod is in its youth, and has a lot of problems; unlike the rest of the bunch it's the one I believe has the most promise. The reason I believe it has promise is from the fact it is very simple, and simplicity works.
It has two gamemodes, survival and infection. Both are just as simple as each other.
Infection is the zombie gamemode everyone's used to from the other mods where one player is the zombie and must infect the rest of the populace. However, this does one thing differently, instead of dying then respawning as a zombie you instantaneously become a zombie at the spot which is an interesting twist but on near-empty servers this can result in very short rounds, and as soon as the first zombie is dead and they don't infect anyone, the round restarts – this is a bit annoying.
Now, survival, it's exactly what you would expect; constantly respawning waves of zombies rather dimly walking towards you with the objective of killing you. This mode is very, very easy indeed. You can just aim your automatic assault rifle into the abyss and you're racking up lots of kills in no time, and with kills comes money so you can always get more ammo. If it was a bit harder it would be a lot more fun to play, and maybe with a few teamplay elements (healing teammates and such) it should be very promising.
It's not to say that survival will be on-par with what you get from Left 4 Dead, but it has a lot of potential to be a good mod, and with the release soon, release often model and in addition to that it's doing pretty much everything right so far. It just needs to get from the state its in now with no models of their own (they're borrowed, with permission from FPSBanana
skin authors) and many bugs to the perfect third party modification.
Final Verdict: 5/10, that said this one needs to be watched as it evolves.
So in conclusion, mods on the Source engine are currently not very inspired and only one I think has any hope amongst the likes of Left 4 Dead. I think this is a shame, back in the old Half-Life/Goldsrc days there were a lot of mods and many of them experimenting with new game ideas and different tastes on the ones that already exist, why isn't there any more than they are? Is modding getting too difficult or are people just running out of creativity?
A lot of mods are dying within weeks, and it's very annoying to see when some great ideas just get thrown in the trash.
This is an article I originally wrote for my personal blog.