2URVIVE is the definition of a “meh” game. Neither interesting, nor dull. Neither exciting, nor boring. Neither captivating, nor haphazard. It’s just so, meh. The game’s developer quit his job three years back to open his studio, 2Bad Games. This much is apparent via checking out the game’s credits (there’s an achievement for it too), in which you’ll learn that the release of this game on console has been the developer’s dream come true. Now, I hate to step on dreams, I truly, truly, truly do, but I feel no need to dance around the facts here.
Everything from the ground up, despite how varied the content within is, is merely mediocre. There’s not a single element of the game that provides much excitement; from its basic set of weapons, right the way through to its standard cookie-cutter story. We’ll start with the latter. The game serves itself as a top-down zombie shooter with a few light tactical aspects thrown in for good measure. If you’re here for the plot, you’re going to be disappointed. Here, you’ll witness the same tried and tested premise we’ve seen a thousand times before.
You take on the role of a handful of people that have found themselves at the mercy of the zombie apocalypse. Your only goal? Survive the hordes of undead that are gunning for you from all angles. That’s about as interesting as things get here. Sure, there’s some dialogue present, but it’s so hit-and-miss, so under-baked, so bland, you can overlook it entirely and not miss a thing. The game’s plot is spread across two of the game’s three main modes; 2URVIVE, and 28 Days Before – the former being the main event, the latter being a prequel.
Each story mode is compiled of short, quick-fire episodes that take roughly a minute or two to overcome, making for a campaign that takes less than thirty minutes to run through in its entirety. You’re free to play the game (across all of its content) either solo, or with another local player. However you play, it’s a relatively easy trek that never really demands much focus or skill. I ran it through alone and only failed a mission once. The crux of play, despite the occasional change in theme and objective, tends to remain the same from beginning to end.
You’ll start each level via being spawned onto a small, confined map. You’ll be given a mundane objective before being warned that the dead are coming for you. Objectives vary the likes of guarding property, destroying objects, and other similar additions. Zombies attack in waves, and between waves, you’re free to spend any money you’ve gathered on new weaponry, ammo refills, health replenishment, and turret placement. You’ll only have limited time to get your shit together before the next wave kicks in, so it pays off to get your goods fast.
There’s a decent variation of weapons to select from; assault rifles, shotguns, rocket launchers, and so forth. The problem, however, is that none of them feel all that pleasing to wield. They come across very samey-samey in regards to both damage output and handling, and the only distinct weapon, the sniper rifle, is useless and somewhat clunky. Still, I suppose variety should be welcomed, but, it would have been nice to have seen more effort spared for the very tools that should make you feel like a walker slaying bad-ass. Instead, they’re just too generic.
Naturally, the cost of each weapon varies, but due to how much money you’ll gather on even a moderate run, the price of each is never really an issue. I was able to buy most things between waves, and still have cash left over. There’s more than just weapons to buy, mind. You’re also free to buy medikits and various frags, as well as a repair kit to repair your turrets. Each level houses a number of turrets that you can buy in multiple flavors, all of which will auto-fire at the hordes of undead whenever they get within close proximity.
When a wave commences, zombies will move towards you from all edges of the screen. You’ll simply stand and shoot until all are dead, only occasionally needing to move when a quick jogging zombie breaks through your fire and descends upon you. Infrequently, you’ll find yourselves located in a moving car for some levels, shooting at whatever stands between you and the level’s end. The gameplay here is, once again, mediocre. You’ll mindlessly move side to side whilst shooting at your foes until you’re swiftly pushed onto the next level in the queue.
Should you die, you’ll restart the level from the beginning with nothing carrying over. The same is true should you let your companion die, and due to how stupid they can be, this tends to be where failure is pulled from. That being said, because each level takes less than a few minutes to run through, failure never feels all that taxing. I don’t want to be too hard on the game, because this is certainly going to please some fans of the concept, but I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that you can get much better experiences elsewhere for a similar cost.
That, ladies and gents, is pretty much the sum of the campaign. You’ll start a level, shoot at the game’s very few enemy variations, buy stuff, repeat waves, kill the game’s singular boss, and watch the credits. Should you fancy more of a challenge, you can up the game’s difficulty from medium to hard, but this merely makes enemies faster and more resistant to damage. Whatever the case, when you’ve spent half of your lunch hour completing the rinse and repeat campaign, the game’s better half awaits you in the mercenaries mode.
The mercenaries mode is a combination of gameplay modes that sees you doing everything you did in the campaign, but here, it feels more grounded and better suited. In fact, I daresay that 2URVIVE would have been much better off dropping its campaign entirely, and just releasing as a bundle of short bouts of carnage. I say this because I found mercenaries to be more alluring and better defined, despite its silly, needless progression system that has you mindlessly working through level-ups until you hit the max rank.
That being said, working through the progression system is the only way to unlock more content in mercenaries; both new modes and new playable characters. The game’s playable characters offer their own unique loadouts, though, this means very little seeing as how you can just buy whatever the hell you want between waves anyway. The modes within tend to consist of the gameplay’s general framework, but with a few twists thrown into the mix; protect the president, cure your own infection on the fly, and other similar functionalities.
The game plays at its best here, because it embraces its daft characteristics. I found more tension playing a mode that saw my health depleting at an alarming rate, forcing me to clear waves so that I could access a medikit. I found more excitement protecting an NPC as the dead came in from all angles, encouraging me to think more carefully about placement. I found more meaning in playing the wave-based mode, simply because it lasted much longer, and the difficulty curve was more structured, and, as a result, more engaging.
If 2URVIVE has one saving grace, its mercenaries. Granted, you’ll need to move through that annoying progression system to access everything, but nevertheless, this mode is what makes the game (albeit, just about) recommendable. The game’s visual and audio presentation is quite hit and miss across the board. There’s not much detail present throughout play, and the game makes a habit of constantly recycling its assets. Don’t get me wrong, it gets the job done, but only marginally. Less is not always more, as is the case here.
I can say the same about the audio work. The game’s soundtrack, together with its cues, are little more than serviceable. The bottom line in all of this is that if you’re looking for the next best top-down shooter, you wont find that here. 2URVIVE is, at best, passable, and even then I feel like that’s a bit of a stretch. Indeed, it functions as intended and performs well across solo and co-op play. Just, don’t come into this with any high-set expectations. Do that, and you’re unlikely to feel too burnt by the reality that this is just all so freaking… meh.
Neither interesting, nor dull. Neither exciting, nor boring. 2URVIVE is simply mediocre. The game’s campaign is its weakest link, offering very little depth and play variety throughout. The mercenaries mode, on the other hand, is better structured, better refined, and a lot more engaging. Still, even when it’s playing at its best, the whole ordeal comes off as relatively average in regards to its overall quality and functionality.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.