Friday, August 08, 2008

The Last Stand 2

The Last Stand 2 is, as you might be able to guess, a sequel to The Last Stand, and tempted though I am again to do a one-sentence review, I'll give it the full treatment. But first, you might ask, how can you have a second last stand? It's supposed to be the last stand! The game actually does attempt to explain this. But in Last Stand 2, you don't actually stand. Unlike in the original, where time is your friend, here you have to evacuate the area by reaching Union City within 40 days, so the clock is against you. You move from city to city, mounting a defense through the night in each and looking during the day for weapons and fellow survivors.

The basic gameplay is nearly identical -- you have barricade, zombies approach barricade, you shoot zombies. However, some things have changed from the original. First of all, you can give your excess weapons to your survivors instead of them having to rely on their own dinky little pistols, which greatly increases your firepower (on the other hand, you can field fewer survivors total than in the first). Secondly, some zombies now carry weapons (actually, in the original Last Stand, zombies would sometimes carry weapons too, but they never used them; in theory, you could take them if you didn't already have one, but in practice they only showed up long after you already had one of your own, so that feature was pretty much completely worthless), and if they reach the barricade they can use those weapons to kill your fellow survivors, so you need to keep them away at all costs. A couple of weapons have also been added (and the chainsaw power reduced to make it more reasonable). But the most major change is the search interface. Instead of just dividing your 12 daylight hours among three options, you have a choice to search various buildings in your current town, with different buildings taking different amounts of time. Unfortunately, what's in what building is still pretty random. You can still spend time repairing your barricade, of course, but in addition to finding weapons and survivors, you can also find supplies and traps. Supplies allow you to move to another city, which takes time but brings you closer to your goal, and also gives you a brand-new barricade to start behind. (Any given weapon only appears in one specific city, so if you have your heart set on a specific weapon, you'll have to go to its appropriate location.) Traps can be used to slow down or blow up zombies approaching your barricade, but they're one use only, so you can't do too much with them.

The presentation is still nicely done, as in the first; the interface is crisp and clean (although the weapon selection is improved, it's still not great); there's now an assortment of different spooky background tunes to go with each different place you're in, along with well-rendered environments for each location; the sounds are still pretty much the same.

Like the first game, this is not terribly difficult, but it will probably pose a challenge the first time through simply because you're likely to run out of time. And also like the first game, it's an enjoyable game to play through once, since it is a well-crafted challenge, but because the genre is so familiar and it doesn't really do much beyond the basic, well-established conventions, it doesn't retain very much replay value.

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