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Killing Floor 2 impressions: Painting Paris Blood Red

Tripwire Interactive gave a first look at Killing Floor 2 at this year's New York Comic Con. With all the new graphics, features and perks, flying body parts have never looked so good.

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Fans of blood splatter and gore were in for a treat at the New York Comic Con, where Tripwire Interactive revealed a first look at Killing Floor 2. For those unfamiliar with the original game, it's a cooperative horror game where players come together to fight against mutants that escaped an evil company that was developing biological weapons. Players select a character skin, pick a perk, buy gear, and survive against waves of killer creatures. The sequel takes place shortly after the End of the Line update from first game, as the monsters have made it across the Chunnel from the UK and are now tearing Paris apart. With a new look, new gear, and new perks, it's time to kick the slaughter up several notches.

The most obvious and most stunning improvement over the first game are the graphics. Originally released in 2009, the visuals for Killing Floor are dark and grainy. The sequel's high resolution textures really brings monsters (aka specimens or zeds) to life, in a big menacing way. All animations are motion captured, which provides a great sense of realism to specimens like the Gorefast as it swings its sword arm. While creatures kind of shambled at you at varying speeds in the previous game, specimens now dash and jump. The Gorefast and others take a flying leap at you, heightening the threat and excitement. Enemies will be crawling out from all kinds of different places, like air ducts and sewer systems, making it harder to hole up and fortify a position.

Specimens also have 22 points of dismemberment, many in the face. So, you can use a shotgun to shoot their faces and/or legs off. Some enemies continue to move after being dismembered, so players will have to be mindful of specimens with their legs cut off that might still be crawling around. Other specimens, like Bloats, will continue to swing its butcher knives for a few seconds after it gets its head shot off. All the dismemberment and graphical detail is best appreciated with the game goes into Zed Time--a feature where the game temporarily goes into slow motion. You can see the pellets spray from the barrel of a shotgun, and amazing animations of specimens being ripped to pieces. Adding to all this is how Killing Floor 2 will feature persistent blood staining without slowing down the game's performance. Motivated players can go ahead and paint the town red, let the streets run with blood, or use any other cliché they desire.

Among the most important developments is the revamped perk system. The original game featured seven perks, some would call them "classes," each with six levels. This time around, there will be ten perks with twenty-five levels. The four classes shown so far are carryovers from the first game: Commando, Medic, Support and Berserker, so the three new ones are still a mystery. If that's not enough killing action for you, there's a bonus thrown in. Perk Skills are provided every five levels, which gives players a choice of abilities to help enhance their characters. They can be changed out between rounds and include bonuses like extra backpack space and faster reload. Skills like the faster reload come with their own custom animations.

Killing Floor 2 will also see an updated melee system. Although the first game features a melee class, it didn't really turn out the way the developers at Tripwire wanted it to, but they're aiming to fix that. Armed with weapons like a katana, players will have a variety of different moves. There are heavy attacks, fast attacks, and moves that change according to the direction you're moving. Players can also parry and block, which have a chance to knock back and stun creatures, providing players a chance to go in for the kill.

The demonstration switched from fighting across the streets of Burning Paris to Biotics Lab, the first level of the previous game, completely remade. It's bigger and more complex. The laboratory features shiny white surfaces just waiting to be splattered with blood and body parts. Specimens, in varying stages of manufacture, hang in cryogenic tubes. Zed embryos float in fluid, and there's a lot of expensive looking equipment to break. The game will feature destructible environment pieces, so players can shoot compressed gas canisters to make them explode, shoot out the lights, and send zeds flying though glass. Fans can also find some Easter eggs hidden across the level, revealing a more in-depth look at the storyline. All this complexity will be included in the Steam Workshop tools that are promised to be included with the game's release. So, modders will have the full set of tools to create custom levels or total game conversions.

Killing Floor 2 is expected to release in 2015 for the PC with Early Access on Steam. For Tripwire, Early Access means a feature complete and fully tuned game, even though there will be a limited content set. Even at this early stage, the game looks very impressive, and I'm looking forward to seeing the bullets and bodies fly.

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