Steam Challenge: Contagion

Game: Contagion
Played: 11.2 Hours

Back over the Christmas holiday, my sister, who is one of my zombie hunting troop, saw Contagion up on Steam sale. So our team picked up a 4-pack for a little under $5 each. Not too bad of a cost, to be honest.

What is Contagion? It’s a zombie first person shooter game. I won’t say it’s a survival game, because it totally lacks the survival aspects of games like 7D2D or H1Z1. Aside from picking up hard-to-find ammo, weapons and med kits, there isn’t much scavenging to stay alive.

You can play single player, but most of the game takes place on player-hosted servers. Hosting your own server is like jumping through flaming hoops 20 feet over a zombie infested roadway. I managed to get it to work, but then I had trouble logging into my own server. Go figure.

Thankfully, the server selection search (which is somewhat obscure to read) tells you which servers your friends are playing on, so you can easily hop into their game. However, chances are high that you’ll end up playing with lots of other random people, so the experience is pretty much what you’d expect from a public-server FPS game. It varies from getting competent players to the downright crude and annoying. There is also built-in voice chat, which can be a blessing or a curse.

You can choose from different characters before you start a level. But aside from their (often crude) comments, I didn’t really feel a difference between any of them.

There are several different game levels to choose from, and different game types. You can go free-for-all PVP killing, co-op escape mode (where you need to complete objectives and live to escape the level), or extraction (where you have to complete objectives, live to escape the level and escort-mission NPCs as well).

It’s kinda nice that objectives are somewhat randomized when you play. Sometimes a certain door is blocked, changing the route you need to take, or a fire is blocking the way and you need to head through a different building. But overall, you are playing the same few maps over and over… and I never really felt like we made much progress at all. Most the time, about halfway through, all the survivors wiped, causing the game to start over. I’ve actually only see the survivors win twice.

I’m really not a fan of pure FPS, so there was that negative for me in this game. Ammo was way too hard to find, especially when you had a larger group of people to share it with. Melee weapons were so slow that they were not a viable alternative against one zombie, much less a hoard, in any way. Many times, when I died, it we because I was out of ammo and had no way to protect myself. Also, headshots are required to take out zombies… and they are frustratingly difficult to make. I don’t know if I was doing it wrong, but I swear when a zombie is facing me head-on, only two feet away, and I’m shooting it square in theĀ head, I hit something! The game seemed to register what looked like a headshot to me as flying over the zombie’s head way too often, resulting in using up ammo in stupid ways.

Zombie Vision! Rawr!

The one cool element of the game was zombie play. When you get attacked by a zombie, you have a chance to become infected. This makes the world blur and shift in really cool ways, and gives you a huge warning that you’re about to turn. When you do turn, you drop all your weapons and ammo, and become a player zombie that can chase down the survivors.

As a zombie, you get zombie vision, which allows you to track survivors by heat map footprints. You can also roar to gatherĀ a zombie hoard (up to 15 nearby zombies) that follow you like a school of fish. You can disguise yourself as a regular zombie, too, then shamble your hoard after the survivors, and unleash them upon the unsuspecting living. When all survivors die, the round restarts with everyone as survivors.

That’s pretty fun even though I don’t usually like PVP. I did my share of mauling faces, and took my share of bullets to the head in this game.

Anyhow, do I recommend it? It’s a pretty solid FPS, if you’re into this sort of thing. I heard there’s a large patch coming out for it soon that’s supposed to improve… stuff. I’m not really on top of the game news for this one, sorry.

So you might like it. But I think it’s an acquired taste.