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Pandemic Express: Zombie Escape First Impressions

Pandemic Express: Zombie Escape is new to Early Access on Steam. Part zombie escape, part first person shooter, this quirky game has a lot of potential.

You start off in a crowded train station, with 29 other players. Once the match begins there is a countdown and then the lights go out.

One player in the lobby becomes infected the second the clock hits zero. They then have to infect as many of the humans around them as possible, before the doors open and everyone runs.

Any humans who are bitten by the infected will respawn as zombies.

The surviving humans must get to the train and follow it to safety, using any weapons they find to dispatch the zombies following them.

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How It Plays

Once the station doors are open any humans who managed to escape uninfected must grab as many weapons as they can lay their hands on and get to the train. This can be problematic though as there just aren’t as many weapons close by as I expected.

Once the humans reach the train it will begin to move, stopping off at stations along the way. Keeping zombies away from the train ensures it moves on as quickly as possible. You should stick close to the train, following it to safety while dispatching the zombies.

There is also a safety zone to stay inside.

This starts off large and shrinks to the size of the train as it progresses along the track. If the train makes it to the end of the line with humans on it they win, otherwise the zombies take the victory.

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Playing as a zombie gives you more utility and infinite respawns. When zombies respawn they also have a chance of becoming either a bomber or a phantom. Bombers explode when killed and Phantoms can become invisible for short periods of time.

Humans have weapons and can use these to knock-back and dispatch zombies. You can also aim your weapon at the floor to use the knock-back on yourself, quickly putting distance between you and the advancing zombie horde.

Very Early Stages

While the open world map is quite large, the graphics and music could use some polish. When you get close to the train an extract from Dance Macabre plays on a loop, which I turned off pretty quickly. The graphics themselves are reasonable, but feel a little unfinished. They are also glitchy in places, although I'd expect this for Early Access.

I was also slightly confused by the zombies' appearance. They wear black suits and have green glowing eyes, reminding me more of aliens than zombies.

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The other thing I’d like to see developed is the “warm up” mode. I thought this was a tutorial but it simply allowed me to run around the map chasing a train. I’d like to see some guidance, explaining the basic controls and the train and ring mechanics, as well as what the different zombies do.

Old-School Unreal Tournament Physics

The physics in this game are crazy, which I love. It reminds me very much of Unreal Tournament, but with a boost. You can run, jump and throw yourself pretty much anywhere you like.

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You don’t have to think about health and fall damage. Nor do you have to think about gravity or physics. Half the enjoyment of this game is trying to pull off some crazy stunt where you use launchpads and weapons to scale a cliff in seconds.

Can The Zombies Be Beaten?

At the moment the most major issue with this game is the balance. I’ve played for a few hours at this point and I’m still yet to encounter a match where the humans win. I also watched a livestream from Twixted, the number one ranked player, to see if he fared any better.

I watched 5 matches and even with his skills the zombies won every time, although Steam does have a clip of him winning so it is possible.

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Overall Pandemic Express has a lot of potential but it needs some adjustments to make it more balanced. While it’s enjoyable to play, it gets old quickly when you know you’ll almost inevitably end up as a zombie.

Since it’s still in early access right now, there’s hope that this will turn into a great game.

Pandemic Express : Zombie Escape is now available on Steam Early Access.

Chiquita Evans
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