Here we go again…

When Killing Floor 2 eventually receives a full commercial release, there will be significantly more content to play around with, but even at this early access stage there’s plenty to sink your teeth into. Taking place just a month after the original Killing Floor, the whole of Europe has fallen to the zombie-like Zeds, and you are once more sent right into the thick of it to dispatch the vile creations by whatever means possible. That or die horribly in the attempt (Clue: it’s usually the latter). 

New Zeds

All of the weird and wonderful bad guys from the first game make a return, apart from The Patriarch boss character rumored to be present but yet to be officially confirmed. In addition there are three new Zeds who are just as eager to mess up your day as their fellow flesh-eaters. 

Cysts, as their name suggests, are irritating pustular little creature who are possibly the least powerful enemies, but in greater number create quite a problem. Slashers are nasty pieces of work, whose speed and viciousness add yet more urgency to an already fraught situation. And then there’s new boss character Hans Volter, a magnificently sick being, as he is an evil 100 year old Nazi doctor who’s keeping himself alive through the use of Horzine technology. 

Perks & Weapons

There are four character classes or ‘perks’ in this Early Access offering, a roster expected to rise to around 10 for the full release. Each character has a pleasingly diverse range of weaponry available. 

The support unit boasts a pump action shotgun, a range of combat and automatic shotguns, and the amusingly named Double-Barrel Broomstick. The Commando is a little more sophisticated with a range of rifles, Kalashnikovs assault rifles and the like. Our favorite by far is the Berserker’s arsenal. His Crovel is a horrible tool, with a spade and saw implement at one end and hook at the other. What follows are the legendary sounding Pulverizer, VLAD-1000 Railgun and The Eviscerator. He can also pull out a lawn mower blade should the mood strike him. Even the lowly Medic is equipped with pistols, grenades, shot guns and a tasty little surgical scalpel.

Maps

There are currently three maps available during the Early Access Phase. The first, Biotics Lab, is a hi-tech yet claustrophobic environment that harks back to just one of the locations from which the terrible events of the first game were set in motion. Beginning in a single laboratory, survival is initially challenging until further corridors and chambers open up to offer the player more tactical options. 

The second map, Burning Paris, provides a more free-flowing experience, as players are able to traverse streets and alleyways as well as using buildings and fire escapes to hold out against the encroaching Zeds. Finally there’s the Outpost that, being a much brighter environment, offers the somewhat dubious pleasure of getting a proper look at the threat facing you, and needless to say, it’s not a pretty sight. 

One thing particularly worthy of note is the destructible nature of the environments, specifically the opportunity to destroy light sources. Despite the panicky nature of the gameplay, it’s best to keep a cool head, as indiscriminate blasting will take out too many light sources, making those all important headshots more difficult.

The Art of Killing 

During the development phase, Tripwire Interactive worked closely with NVIDIA GameWorks to make the very most of your GeForce GTX GPU’s capabilities. The results are truly spectacular and can been seen in the following crucial areas. 

Shadow Play 

Ambient Occlusion – of which NVIDIA’s HBAO+ is considered the best tech of its type available – is the addition of more realistic shadowing where surfaces meet or where objects block light falling on other surfaces. The result is that scenes with AO have more depth, shadows of varying intensity and will look far more convincing and immersive. 

Shiny, Pretty Things 

We all know mirrors and water reflect things routinely in games, but in the real world many more surfaces are reflective to varying degrees. That’s where Screen Space Reflections come in. This technique allows for more quality, coverage and visibility of reflections on all manner of surfaces again, adding to the realism of the game’s environments. It also comes into its own when KF2’s areas are literally plastered in revolting pools of gloopy and highly reflective blood. Nice. 

Skin Deep 

In a game that insists on throwing hundreds of rotting mutants at you, it’s pretty important those creatures look convincing, and the way to achieve that is through a technique rather unimaginatively called SSSSS, or Screen Space Sub-Surface Scattering. When light hits skin, it is absorbed, diffused and even to a small degree emitted. Without SSSSS, characters and creatures can look rather flat and unconvincing. With it, well, you can see the results in the screens posted here. 

Cinematic Flourishes 

Finishing touches that add yet another layer of realism to the proceedings include Bloom Lighting, which is used to add glowing flares around bright light sources, and in this instance, has been much improved by downsampling bright pixels six times? No, we don’t know what that means either, but the results are very pretty. Add in a dash of motion blur to accentuate the sense of speed and urgency when the Zeds are rushing toward you, and round it off with some sublime depth of field and film grain effects, and the whole thing becomes something of a treat for the eyes. 

Wait, There’s More… 

You can, should you wish, splash out a few more dollars for the Deluxe Version of Killing Floor 2. For a modest fee you will receive not only the entire first Killing Floor game, but a bunch of extras. There you’ll find the additional DJ Scully character, complete with a unique voice pack and a set of face and body skins. There are added cosmetic items such as Scullyphones (headphones) for several of the characters. Or there are 3D glasses and bowler hats to make specific characters look even more ridiculous than they already do. On a less frivolous note, the Deluxe Edition also includes the Killing Floor 2 soundtrack and a 200+ page Digital Artbook. 

The conclusion, then, has to be that if you’re the sort of person who enjoys being stuck in a dark room teeming with rotting, flesh eating abominations, screaming violently in your ears and exploding in a huge mess of blood, Killing Floor 2 fits the bill nicely.

System Requirements 

Minimum:

CPU: Core 2 Duo E8200 2.66GHz or Phenom II X2 545

GPU: GeForce GTS 250 or Radeon HD 4830

RAM: 3GB

OS: Win7 64 

Recommended:

CPU: Core 2 Quad Q9550 2.83GHz or Phenom II X4 955

GPU: GeForce GTX 560 or Radeon HD 6950

RAM: 4GB

OS: Win7 64