Over the weekend, I noticed Steam was giving away a free trial of this game called Generation Zero, which I’d never heard of before. So I thought I’d try it. I kind of miss those Halcyon days of the Steam Backlog Bonanza, when I got to play a brand new game every day.
I didn’t even know what this game was, to be honest. It sounded like a shooter. But it said it was “set in Sweden,” which is something I’ve certainly never seen before in a game.
It turns out it’s kind of a survival shooter, sort-of-kind-of in the vein of something like an H1Z1 or maybe 7 Days To Die, except with robots instead of zombies, and no pesky other players. Not precisely “survival” in the sense of the “survival game genre,” since there’s no eating or drinking or building or crafting (at least, not that I saw). But survival is definitely a key concept in the game, because the robots are hella hard to kill and they have way more powerful weaponry than you do starting out. I quickly learned it’s best to avoid them. Except they tend to be hanging around all the places you’re supposed to go.
Basically you’re deposited onto a big open world map and your goal is to run around searching buildings for supplies and doing little open world errands, unlocking safe houses and progression skill trees, while avoiding robots and I guess piecing together what happened. It’s not terrible, but it’s also not terribly enthralling. It just “is.” I was impressed with how difficult it was to kill the robots, and how smart they were, and how relentlessly they tracked you around the map like Terminators. Also annoyed, because they kept killing me, because there aren’t very many health kits around, and it takes a long long time to sneak around them.
One feature that made me laugh is you can actually ride a bike around. I honestly can’t think of any other 3D game I’ve played in my entire life where you can ride an honest-to-gosh bicycle around the map. It’s actually useful too, because the map is huge. I mean, until you run into a robot.
Sweden - True or False?
What I found most interesting about the game actually had nothing to do with the game, and everything to do with Sweden. I don’t know if there’s anyone out there in my reading audience from Sweden, but I’m curious about a couple of things they mentioned in the game. I couldn’t figure out if it was real or some kind of “alternate history” scenario. I could believe either option.
Mainly this concept described in the game’s prologue, that after World War II, Sweden decided that everyone in the country should be trained to prepare for whatever the next war would be. It described a sort of national policy of preparedness, which is a completely foreign concept to us dumb Americans. Over here in America, we actively make fun of “preppers” who prepare for disasters, even though it’s a perfectly smart and reasonable thing to do (now more than ever, what with a Soviet-breakup-style total collapse of the U.S. looming on the horizon-I’m just hoping it holds off until after I’m dead).
Even more interesting, there’s a point where you find a pamphlet that describes a national defense siren system to alert the citizens of danger. It describes four alarm tones you might hear, which indicate imminent danger, air raids, a “tune to your radio for more information” tone, and an all clear tone. Such a thing does not exist here in the U.S. to my knowledge. If you happen to live or work near an Army base, you might hear some warnings, and I’ve heard of tornado sirens in the Midwest, but that’s about it. Otherwise we’re all on our own.
Anyway, I just thought it was interesting from a cultural perspective, the idea of a nation actively training its citizens in readiness. I have no idea if it’s real or fictional. I could easily believe it to be true, since I know Europe had a much more personal relationship with World War II than we did in the U.S. The last war that we felt personally in the U.S. was-you guessed it-the Civil War. It still resonates pretty strongly today, especially around where I live.
Oh, one other thing I found interesting was the layout of the Swedish houses. The floor plans were utterly foreign to me. Kitchen next to the front door, living room in the back, no bathrooms on the first floor. I’ve never seen an American house that had a layout even remotely similar to the ones I saw in this game. I’d be curious to hear if they are accurately depicting typical Swedish house floor plans or if the modelers just randomly threw rooms together. I’d never considered before that there might be wild variations in household floor plans between different cultures, the reasons for them, and what that might mean for the entire existence of mankind.
As for the Generation Zero game, I played for about an hour and then uninstalled it. It might be more fun if you happen to have a group to play with, but it wasn’t for me.