11 mins read

Generation Zero, the review

Generation Zero it undoubtedly starts from an intriguing incipit: we find ourselves in Sweden, in an alternative 1989, and we discover that something disturbing happened while we were on a boat trip. There is no one left on the streets, the houses are empty, some vehicles lie abandoned and menacing presences move among the trees or in the middle of the fields: quadruped robots that are alerted by the slightest noise and attack anything that moves using a machine gun . Unfortunately, this is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg, because the mechanical troops that have invaded the country are not only very numerous, but also made up of even larger and more dangerous machines, armed with blades and missile launchers. Surviving their attack will not be easy, in the desperate attempt to understand what happened and where they all ended up: we will be alone to deal with a particularly large and evocative scenario, which measures over ten square kilometers in its entirety, or we will be able to choose to face the adventure in cooperative along with three other users, turning the experience into something very similar to an expedition and adding a certain strategic depth to the gameplay. Whatever our approach, there will be a long way to go.

After trying Generation Zero during the early access period on Steam, we expected the introduction of a narrative structure capable of making the most of the idea behind the adventure. However, the authors decided differently, dismissing everything with a few lines of text during the first minutes and projecting us into the same situation, near a house apparently abandoned in a hurry, while the lights of a police car are visible in the distance. stopped in the middle of the road. A few moments to become familiar with the system that regulates the loot: it is possible to access the vast majority of buildings and collect objects of various kinds directly or by rummaging inside boxes, crates, containers and trunks.

This way you can find them weaponsammunition, useful accessories (for example binoculars or attachments for pistols and rifles), medical kits, radios and flares of various types: tools that take on a certain importance when the enemies There are many of them and it is possible to distract them with lights and fireworks. The use of the inventory has unfortunately remained quite cumbersome, the immediately available slots are sufficient to carry quite a lot of stuff but the assignment of certain resources to the hotkeys (the directions of the d-pad, using a controller) it must be repeated every time supplies run out and it becomes frustrating to have to repeat the operation again and again when it comes to medical kits, which cannot be consumed at the same time as the inventory check. When the backpack is full you have to leave something on the ground, but nothing is wasted: the objects remain available to our possible companions or in any case to those who join the game, an eventuality which however never occurred during our tests with the final version of the game.

The scenario, as mentioned, is enormous and also rather evocative: boundless plains, coasts overlooking the sea, rocky and forest areas, small urban gatherings and even some tourist attractions. In short, it seems that the developers have reproduced specific places in the country, but without a clear idea of ​​how to best exploit them to set a story of this type. In fact, what you will find yourself doing most of the time in Generation Zero will be walking, covering large distances without the possibility of using vehicles and without the thing being justified in some way (maybe, by an electrical signal that put all the engines out of action). Furthermore, once near the urban areas, it is difficult not to notice how the houses are all identical to each other, divided into very few typologies that are repeated over and over again and undermine the interest in exploring them. Furthermore, there are no characters alive who are not our possible companions, and the missions they are limited to exploration tasks for gathering clues and information.

Between one walk and another you will inevitably come across some enemies. The placement of the robots follows a principle of progression that sees only the quadrupeds in the first areas, after which the reconnaissance drones, the giants armed with missiles and then the enormous bipeds that can be seen in some of the game’s artwork also begin to arrive. To eliminate them we will be able to use the various weapons found around: pistols, shotguns or precision rifles, machine guns of various sizes but also explosive objects, which we can place as traps to blow up if necessary. The hostile units’ sensors are sharp, but it is possible to deceive them by ducking and moving slowly, keeping a distance, in a sort of stealth approach.

The problem is that there is no advantage to be gained: experience points are earned by completing fights, and although escaping is also rewarded, unlocking upgrades for the character it is already slow and does not require further uncertainty. After the first eight hours, moreover, we had unlocked very few improvements, trying to favor physical resistance and health over the use of weapons and engineering skills. In short, it is clear that the Generation Zero experience was designed to entertain for a long time in a sort of perpetual endgame, and the size of the map is clear proof of this. The problem is how time is used, because finding ourselves crossing long stretches of road on foot without encountering anything along the way does not correspond to our personal idea of ​​fun.

However, let’s go back to the combat system: our character can equip three weapons by selecting them from the inventory and use them to defeat enemies. With a sniper rifle it is possible to eliminate robots from a great distance, hitting their battery, but when hostile units get closer it is better to take up a more immediate weapon, for example a shotgun, and move quickly to avoid frontal charges or bursts of machine gun fire, which actually follow quite predictable trajectories. L’artificial intelligence unfortunately it is not the best, in fact it happens all too often that the machines get stuck somewhere or that they are unable to understand that we are behind cover and cannot hurt us, ending up being targeted without problems other than the quantity of ammunition our disposal.

After introducing us to the initial menu with an exciting electronic song, Generation Zero presents a simple editor for character creation (the presets appear generic and with an old-gen flavour, unfortunately), after which we find ourselves projected into the map. The rendering of nature and the lighting system undoubtedly represent the flagship of the production, which thanks to the Apex Engine manages to offer truly evocative panoramas, a convincing day / night cycle and a great atmosphere. Do you remember theHunter: Call of the Wild? It is practically identical, so much so that in some moments you can identify with the character, lost in the middle of nowhere, with the wind blowing and perhaps the rain falling, while in the distance you can see houses which are however guarded by hostile robots.

As anticipated, the creation of the urban gatherings and the insipid bunkers betrays frankly excessive copy-paste work, and there is a great desire to dive back into nature, which, however fascinating, soon reveals itself to be unsuitable for the context, too distracting, too wide in its expanses so that you can explore it on foot and have some fun. We only feel the fatigue, mental rather than physical, and the game over is welcomed as a real curse: unless we have a syringe of adrenaline, following the knockdown we will have to select a location in which to carry out the respawn and travel again the route that brought us to the point where we were defeated, also rediscovering enemies that we had already eliminated.

On the test configuration the game runs at 1440p with all effects at maximum and a solid 60 frames per second, but if desired it is possible to opt for 2160p using a dynamic solution that behaves reasonably well, scaling the resolution to maintain the established frame target. Among the most interesting visual options there is undoubtedly screen space reflection, which projects real reflections of the environment around us into puddles: by deactivating it the effect is replaced by simple cubemaps. The design of the robots is interesting although not very original, while the concept of persistence is exploited very little: the fights tend to end and it is therefore rare to find an enemy again after some time, finding the damage we have inflicted on him previously. Beyond the initial music, the sound accompaniment appears essential.

PC System Requirements

Test Configuration

  • Processor: Intel Core i5 6600K @ 4 GHz
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
  • Memory: 16GB RAM
  • Operating system: Windows 10

Minimum requirements

  • Processor: Intel Core i5
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660, AMD Radeon HD 7870
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Hard disk: 35 GB of space required
  • Operating System: Windows 7 SP1 64-bit

Recommended requirements

  • Processor: Intel Core i7
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960, AMD Radeon R9 280
  • Memory: 16GB RAM
  • Hard disk: 35 GB of space required
  • Operating System: Windows 10 64-bit

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