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Previews

State of Decay first look - Minecraft meets Dead Rising

Zombie survival to get your teeth into

Apparently the team at Undead Labs are taking their strategy for surviving a zombie apocalypse very seriously, because their new XBLA project will road test the strength of a contingency plan. State of Decay is a detailed survival sim, letting you see how you'd hold out in the face of grey, lurching death.

This isn't the frantic zombie shooter we're used to. It's all about long-term survival - days, weeks after an outbreak in isolated small-town America. Killing zombies is all part of that of course, but on a tactical level. Once you've established a main camp, plus outposts, how you keep them safe is up to you.

Zoom

Every choice you make shapes the open-play world. If you cause chaos you'll attract more zombies to your base. The undead nasties also investigate noises, so do you sacrifice speed to quietly sneak around them, or jump into a muscle car to outrun them? Looting too many resources leaves the area depleted, and these items won't regenerate - smash all the cars up, and you'll run out of cars for good.

With effort you can grow food in your garden, though there's always the option of scavenging further and further from home - but on a 16 km-square map, this can get very daunting. Weapons are also finite until you can craft your own, but if you don't keep zombie numbers down they'll start massing to attack. Luckily, you don't have to face them alone.

Along the way you can pick up survivors. It means more mouths to feed, but they'll bring valuable skills to your team - plus you can't build upgrades or defences if you don't have enough labour to do it. Defences are key, since characters can actually die - permanently. You can carry on leading as another member of the team, but that other guy? He's gone forever.

The two years this game has spent in development so far look well-spent. With a dynamic world and hundreds of tactics to live your own personal survival hell, it's time to barricade the windows and prepare yourself for a zombie invasion.

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