We’ve all played those games where you are found wandering around a modern location that has been decimated and abandoned, all thanks to some unforeseen apocalyptic event, leaving you alone to have the time of your life. It’s as familiar as collecting coins in a platformer or endlessly sorting out your inventory and deciding whether to throw away the magical stone of Amos or that x6 scope that you will never use.
Sometimes though these abandoned worlds are full of killer robots. Welcome to Generation Zero.
Set in Sweden in the 1980s, Generation Zero sees you playing as someone who is content to walk out across some islands to try and figure out what’s happened to, not just the population, but the country in general. It’s a FPS, exploration-heavy game that brings a survival story that tests your skills alone or across cooperative play. The gameplay is pretty much like every other first-person shooter you will ever have played; expect a number of guns to utilise on your adventure, but with a very limited ammo and resources set. It is that which is going to make it pretty tough, but the big question is this… who will you be shooting?
The world, well that of 1980s Sweden, has been overrun by robot mechs of all shapes and sizes. From the dog-like little scrappers which you encounter at the start, to the annoying little alien-like face huggers that just won’t stop jumping, Generation Zero is full of them and it’s not a better place for it. Taking them down is the name of the game, however when you attack one you’ll find yourself in for a hell of a battle, as not only are they very hard to kill, but when they shoot back, you’re going to feel it; your health can disappear very quickly indeed. When you’re fighting a whole host of them – which you’ll be doing a lot – then you’re for a hell of a lot of trouble and the only thing to do is run and hide, usually towards the nearest building.
The thing is, with Generation Zero, the robots very quickly become the worst thing about the game. You’re meant to take the stealthy approach – I think – but that doesn’t work half the time because they seem to be able to spot you if you even so dare move a blade of grass a mile away. And when I have managed to stealth on by, other times I’ve found the robots glitched in walls, unable to be hit – but of course, they could kill me.
Don’t get me started on the bunkers either. See, there are a number of bunkers (yep, I’ve started!) throughout the world where you have missions to collect, or information to be gained. They need clearing out and the power starting up again before you can utilise them as safe houses and as a checkpoint, allowing the chance to head back to a certain point when you next load the game up. The problem is when you start from these ‘safe houses’, the robots are back again and this time they are angry. Well they are in exactly the same mood as before, but having to put them down again instantly sees the game getting a bit dull.
Further to this, and whilst a bit of good old inventory management is my pet hate, the way this one is set up is a nightmare. It feels very old school, where guns don’t automatically use the ammo unless you reload the gun manually, and the quick slots feel really laborious to set up. The missions are good mind, usually running along a ‘go here and do this’ structure, but the marker system is very hit and miss and you will find yourself wandering around aimlessly.
I do however feel that the world itself is an interesting place to spend some time in and I would quite happily just wander around finding out what happened to this Swedish lifestyle, but could well do without the robots and terrible inventory management.
Generation Zero works well in co-op too, but there are hiccups. You see, when you attempt to start things off again, making the most of an old save point for example, and a friend joins your game they will spawn at the location where the adventure originally began. It’s okay because there are fast travel points, but it doesn’t allow for a great start to a session. The mission progression for your colleague isn’t that clear either, as you will, at times, have a different set of quests. Thankfully teaming up with a friend is appreciated over the single player option, because battling robot foes without a buddy can be a nightmare. Especially if you like to be carried by a useful chum.
The game looks brilliant though with its beautiful terrain, sweeping sunrises and hodgepodge collection of military bases, villages, and sprawling countryside. The weather systems look great and the little details you might find in a house – from an ‘80s poster for a band, to some tapestry quotes on the walls – are really pleasing on the eye. Once again I have to stress that Generation Zero delivers a great world to explore and spend some time in. The robots look great as well and the lighting employed is of a very high standard, whilst sound-wise it is all extremely well designed through the soundtrack used, the loud gunfire, and audio tapes littered around.
Generation Zero on Xbox One is a game that I dearly wanted to love from the very first moment I saw the trailer. The world, concept, and exploration elements are fantastic, beautiful and enticing. But in reality, the game itself, and the gameplay as a whole, are a completely different matter. Hard to use inventory systems, and uninteresting battles with what seems like hundreds of robots appearing out of nowhere, do nothing to entice you in further. And if you do try to stealth it, 9 times out of 10 you will be spotted, no matter what you are trying. It also doesn’t help that the mission structure is confusing and unwieldy, and there are a few bugs and respawn issues.
I really do want to love this game, but at the end of the day, I just haven’t enjoyed playing it. If it was cheaper I would say give it a go with a mate to see the world, as there’s a great game laying underneath the issues. You never know, you may just find it.