If you missed it, check out Part 1 here!
Finally, the game was beginning in earnest. I was on my own (well, with my three
best friends great acquaintances good coworkers other people and one professional zombie slayer) to live or die by my own choices, no longer hampered by the stupidity of other people. Exuberant, I start my journey. About thirty seconds later, I am interrupted by this message:
God damn it. I just spent 25% of my available search time, which could have gone towards bullets and doubled our ammo supply, on med-kits… and Brian goes and sits his fat ass on two of them immediately. Maybe that’s what the game meant by the “suicidal” difficulty mode… maybe my friends really ARE suicidal and Brian secretly just wants us all to get infected. I decide I’m just paranoid, but if it happens again, that makes a pattern and constitutes hostile action, and I will shoot Brian straight in the face. But only if it happens again. Five seconds later, I get another message. My finger twitches on the trigger of the rifle, but fortunately for Brian and his face, it wasn’t his fault. Turns out, we just couldn’t find any water, and now everyone is dehydrated. Hooray…
Five miles outside of Pittsburgh, as night falls and the city comes into view, I get my first good news of the game.
We’ve come across a broken down car by the side of the road, and rather than getting ambushed by bandits or zombies, I’m instead rewarded with an upgrade for my car, a tool chest that I can install in the back which will apparently make my repairs more efficient. Since I found these tools on the back of a broken-down car, I’m highly suspicious of their utility, but since I don’t have anything better, I grab them anyway. Still fearing that this is some kind of cruel trick and something terrible is about to happen, I try to drive as fast as possible for the last few miles into Pittsburgh, but the game forces me to reduce my speed. I assume it must have been rush hour city traffic or something. Either way, we safely arrive in the city.
Taking a stroll around the relative safety of downtown Pittsburgh, I spot two jobs up on the board. One job is a “Defense” job, rated at a difficulty of Normal with a reward of $4; the other is a “Recovery” job, rated a difficulty of Suicide with a reward of 6 fuel. I pick the Defense job. A panicky civilian tells me I have to hold off a wave of incoming zombies, using my own bullets, for which he will pay me four whole dollars, U.S. American legal tender. This smells like bullshit to me, but at this point, I have no choice but to cooperate: the undead are closing in on me.
WOOOO!! Take that, you rotting corpses! I am the champion of shooting slow moving targets that don’t shoot back! The game responds to my excitement with its own level of enthusiasm, politely informing me that I’m still alive.
I go back to the job board, riding high on the adrenaline of my success and gleefully click the other remaining job, ready to do whatever it is that I had to in a Recovery job. This time, I’m told I have to find some supplies that some stupid asshole left in the middle of a zombie horde, but 6 fuel is a tempting pay-off so I figure it’ll be worth it. I start running down an alley, with zombies closing in on the edges of my screen from all directions. I keep running, ignoring them until they get closer so I know I won’t miss. They begin to close in on me, with a conga line forming behind me, and one zombie approaching from the front. I ready my gun to blast him and run over his body, and only now do I realize that I have to stop moving entirely to aim my gun and shoot. I waited too long, the conga line was too close, and they collided with my character before I ever got the shot off. Fortunately, rather than getting ripped into tiny giblets, the game informs me that I have merely been injured (and failed the job). I decided to go somewhere a little safer and check out the auto mechanic. He’s selling a special upgrade for my car, Tinted Windows, which apparently make heat waves do no damage. … What the hell is a heat wave? What am I getting myself into? I decide these windows are probably a prudent investment, and check the price: $57. I have $4. Oh. I leave the auto shop, embarrassed at my poverty. I check out the market, hoping to find something I can afford.
As if by Divine Providence, food sells for exactly $4. As I go to buy it, I’m thrilled to discover that food is also sold in units of 10 ounces, not 1 as I had assumed. I return to my party somewhat injured and bearing a little more than half a pound of food for five people… does this count as a good day? I use a med-kit on myself, to patch up my earlier injuries. At this point in time, I noticed a peculiarity of the camp menu.
“Medkit” and “Kill” are awfully close to each other… it would not be hard to imagine a miss-click, especially if one were… oh, I don’t know, drinking a beer (or three) while playing this game… I’ll have to be extra careful in the future so that I only kill the party members I INTEND to kill. I decide to pack it in for the rest of the night and wait until morning.
At 12 A.M. I got bored and decided I wanted to try scavenging, but just before I clicked the button, I saw the information panel which told me the level of zombie activity in the area: deadly. I decided to go for it anyway. I managed to pick up some old tin cans that were right next to me, but then about seven seconds later I got overrun and injured again. The game even taunts me with a picture of the big pile of food I didn’t bring back.
So much for that med-kit I used four hours ago. I use all ten of my scrap immediately repairing my car up to full strength. At this point, I’ve had enough of this city, so I make an executive decision and tell everyone to wake up and get ready to leave. However, before I make it out of the city, as if some dark, malevolent force was holding me back, I am informed that a tremendous zombie horde blocks my only path out of Pittsburgh. I see that it is both “massive” in size and “ravenous” in hunger… I decide no heroics tonight and wait a few hours. Everyone is furious at me for waking them up at 1 A.M. only to have them wait two hours in a cramped station wagon. At 3 A.M., the horde is still massive, but has become docile, and I decide now’s our best chance to sneak through. We don’t have enough money to hire mercenary escorts, and I don’t want to waste the bullets to try shooting our way through ourselves, so sneaking is the only option. I feel… extremely vulnerable.
But miraculously, we make it through unscathed, and hammer down on the gas.
200 miles to the next landmark, “the Mall”… I wonder if we’re going to meet George Romero there?