I'll update this review later, I just wanted to give a sense of what this game is like.
1) Imagine a game that plays from a similar point of view as Nation Red with similar quality of graphics. Basically, it is a third person action, with 3 levels zoom in and out.
2) The game is pausable real-time. This allows you to pause the game at any time to check your inventory, your map, quest logs, Infected Monster Entries, Journal entries for tips on how to play or books you read or dialogs you have had which are recorded. You can review your Character Page with Attributes and derived skills, Your Doctrines aka Training etc.
3) Now Imagine that the game also includes a vast action RPG system that is similar to Fallout 1 and 2 or Arcanum's system but for this WW2 meets the Infected Apocalypse setting in NYC.
4) You increase your attributes like Strength or Accuracy and your derived skills such as Unarmed or Rifle skill through USAGE of that skill. Want to shoot pistols better, shoot them a lot. This will improve things such as Pistol skill and likewise related attribute of accuracy. It is all clearly explained with all the detail you need by browsing the various menus either via mouseovers while paused or a click on something for more info. Also explained in a narrative form in the Journal of C.J. that is provided in-game.
So what you have is an action RPG with the depth of Fallout Series with the perspective and look of Nation Red creating a deep game that feels much like a Post Apocalyptic Zombie Story. It's a bit like Dead Island/Diablo/Baldur's Gate with a skill system that feels like Arcanum/Fallout. If that doesn't sound interesting to you, well I don't know what will.
Now, there are all sorts of loot as well in this game. Sure you have the usual clubs, pistols, revolvers, shotguns, submachineguns, machine guns, flamethrowers, grenades, placeable mines, flares, carbines, rifles of WW2 type vintage but also each may have one to several modifications on it when it is found. In addition, you may find enhancement modification kits for them, then you can also enhance things with serum etc. It's as if Titan Quest or Diablo mods had gone WW2 on you, and runes had become kits. In other words, it's fun to explore and fight if only for loot. Areas eventually do respawn, the longer you are away from a map, the more likely and numerous the respawns. Meanwhile you have quests, safe areas that act as towns in fantasy rpgs, etc.
Balance is really well achieved. The currency is serum. Serum allows you to nullify for a time the bad effects of infection, but it does not cure it. Each time you take serum you will need more vials of it to push back the raging infection in you. Infection levels have detrimental effects and full infection leads to death. So serum is precious. You can sell and buy for serum. There are also scraps. Scraps allow you to repair items yourself, but you can also pay repairers to repair with serum or purchase or find repair kits. Likewise for infection you may find Infection Kits, but those are more rare. As mentioned, there are also Enhancement Kits as part of loot, these modify weapons with certain requirements and a scraps requirement, but then they act like runes in Diablo enhancing your current weapons by simply dragging the Enhancement Kit onto the qualified weapon. Loot therefore is precious in a multitude of ways and can serve many needs. Sell for serum as currency or to fight off your infection. Get serum by killing infected aka mutants/zombies all of which may have different mutations and traits as well as basic traits due to type of mutant, and there are many base types already. Batteries keep your flashlight juiced, and it can get very dark. Want to stay fresh, then don't get Tired or Fatigued by staying near campfires (barrels with fire to heat you up), or get into a fully covered building and get out of the elements for even quicker recovery. Any type of fatigue, stamina effect to aiming etc, it's all in there. It's all something to consider. Need more scraps, break down a weapon and scavenge its scraps to fix another you prefer, or if you can get to a trader perhaps you prefer to sell it for serum, then use the serum to pay the trader to repair the weapon -- but then don't expect your Mechanical skill for repair to raise as well. Decisions, decisions.
Again, you raise skills and related attributes by USAGE. You TRAIN in DOCTRINES to enhance related abilities in those skillsets and attributes, which you qualify for by meeting certain attribute and skill combinations. It seems at first a little confusing, but just remember -- if you USE the weapons or RUN AROUND a lot, you will expect to soon be able to train related Doctrines, while also improving your related skills and attributes. It's more Skyrim than Oblivion. What you do alot creates your effective class, but there are no classes per se -- it all depends on how you play that character.
Different weapons have different base ranges and attack speed, they have different durability, etc. It's all there as you would expect, want, and hope.
Besides the Campaign mode, there is the Prologue which serves as a Tutorial, and there is Survival Mode. I have to say I enjoy Survival Mode a great deal as well. It's basically Nation Red with the above described random loot and skill development. Want to simply fight an RPG arcade mode fighting wave after wave ... I used to call this Hassle-Mode, but the beauty of it is there is no hassle RPGing ... you simply don't worry about the story but otherwise it's Nation Red with RPG and loot. So quick action fun is there and you also get to explore quickly the various doctrines and styles of play.
Ok, so the game is definitely at the level of most Betas -- it is playable and enjoyable, more polished than most, but it still has some minor bugs and is undergoing a lot of polish and development. It was fun already back in September. It's only better now and getting better.
What are the biggest weaknesses? Well, the main character may seem a bit drab looking, the rest looks good. It plays fast even on medium/high settings of a mere Intel HD 2500 gpu ... yes that's right, your heard me right. NO FRAMERATE ISSUES on that or better, period. The range of view is a bit claustrophobic, but it makes exploring very exciting. Most weapons are simply expected to be used within 20 meters or less -- often within 10 meters. But that makes it more Diablo 2 like and adds to the chance of being surrounded, so you have to stay aware tactically. Music is good, gameplay is addictive. Combat is not quite as visceral with impact as Nation Red, but there is a ton more variety to what you experience. I suppose it might be described as Fallout Tactics meets Nation Red with a story to boot.
Highly recommended especially given the sales prices such as during this 2014 Steam Winter Sale. The game is going to take at least 35 plus hours to complete one time, but you can play it so many ways and then there is survival mode. Finally, this is a newish developer trying to make a larger, unique, breakout game for the company. They are very involved on the forums, knowledgeable, caring, and quick to answer often in a few hours, but always in a couple of days if they can. They also seem very organized and thoughtful in what they have tried to do. They don't seem to fall behind schedule. Perhaps some of you, like me, remember the frequent missteps of companies like Troika. They made great games at least in terms of the many systems and concepts, but they constantly fell behind the contracted deadlines. The reason was they could not accurately estimate how much time the various concepts would take to implement and when to stop adding features -- publisher/money issues or not. Scorpius Games KNOWS HOW to MANAGE DEVELOPMENT.