With everyone dealing with the not so great reality of a global pandemic I wanted to spend some time playing through a different, much cooler pandemic i.e Zombies. My main inspiration was this step brothers meme that really spoke to me. Although I wouldn’t actually prefer zombies to Covid-19 – a game about social distancing is not my cup of tea so here I give to you Pandemic Express.
Pandemic Express is a Zombie survival game made by TinyBuild Games which challenges humans to escape a zombie uprising by getting on the last running train to safety. You start the game in a large group locked in a cage until one unsuspecting player is nominated as a zombie. That player must infect two people and turn them to the undead side until the cage opens and it’s an all out free for all race to the train. There are multiple stations where 1 is randomly selected as the escape which is only revealed once the cage doors open. Once at the station the humans will need to climb onto the train to allow it to move (Very much like the mechanics in Overwatch). Once the train has reached the final station, the remaining humans would have won the game and survived.
As a human you have a couple of tools you can use to assist your escape. Firstly there are weapons scattered across the map that you can use to fend off incoming enemies. There is also a crate located underground that will give you high spec guns and armour to use, The best being an RPG, however the risk you run is that the zombies will be notified if someone is going for it and the crate is in an enclosed space with little room to avoid infection.
Communication is also key as every player has the ability to talk to each other and discuss strategy. As previously mentioned, the crate that holds the best weapons can be opened quicker depending on the amount of players attempting to retrieve it. Therefore good communication in small groups can increase your chance of survival. Finally and most importantly movement will be the humans saving grace in Pandemic Express as Zombies need to get within biting distance to turn you and luckily you have some tools to help throw them off the scent. Carts run across the map that can piggyback you faster than running, cars and trucks can be occupied and driven to give you breathing space from the horde.
Trampolines dotted across the map can help you quickly scale to higher ground and out fox the enemy, There is a slide feature that allows you to pick up speed down a hill or switch directions in an instance. There is also a way to climb tall structures by spamming jump however it looks very glitchy and unsure if this will be a possibility after a patch.
Zombies generally have a much easier time as they can pick off some slow pokes pretty quickly and begin to snowball. Beyond devouring humans they also get a few perks to assist in the hunt. The big advantage zombies have is their ultimate abilities. Once you have turned enough humans then you have the option to morph into a Mimic or a Phantom. Mimics, as the name suggests can disguise themselves as humans. They can use this to get close to an enemy without arousing suspicion before they strike a bewildered enemy. To stop this being overpowered there is a noise that plays to the humans that alerts them to Zombies being close but amid the chaos and amount of human suspects, you will turn at least one person.
The Phantom’s main ability is to turn invisible. Invisibility has no time limit however you won’t be able to claim any victims until you emerge from the shadows from which point you will have to wait 10 seconds before you can activate the ability again. Playing as a zombie also gives you the ability to swallow someone in order to gain more points towards an ultimate as well as removing any armour or weapons that player may have. A swallowed human will be spat back out wherever you are facing and can’t be swallowed for another 10 seconds. This is a good way to separate weak targets from a group.
Overall, the Zombie team has a distinct advantage over the humans as, like a zombie horde is usually portrayed, can send a constant wave towards the survivors making a simple trade off become very profitable.
Beyond the action packed gameplay, there are not many other features that spring out to me. The graphics for a game like this doesn’t need to be anything special however the overall eerie feel adds to the rush of being chased by the zombies, on that note, the Zombie ascetic is hilarious especially when coupled with zombie players constantly jumping around the place. Audio, despite the growls and moans of zombies, is underwhelming but a big plus that should be mentioned is the map design. Although there is only 1 map it is very well thought out with plenty of places to hide, scale, plunder and defend. The addition of a conflict free zone at the second to last station really gives the game a Last Stand type of feel.
Whilst reviewing Pandemic Express I played 20 games. In those 20 I only won as a human once. Although in my case it came down to a lot of luck and a good human team with me, I was nevertheless ecstatic about completing a challenging human game. I felt as though with a bit more practice and a good team I could win a few more but if you have brought this game today then expect to see a lot of zombie winning end screens.
One thing I didn’t get to experience was becoming the 1st infected zombie. I very much liked the idea of me starting from nothing and quickly seeing my swarm of undead legions grow and engulf the delicious humans.
For what you are paying for, Pandemic Express is worth every penny, I had tonnes of fun attempting to escape the Zombie Horde and with a potential to add new maps and abilities this game will hold its value in the near future.
- Genuinely Fun Gameplay
- Good Map Design
- Human Wins and Challenging and Rewarding
- Only One Playable Map
- Graphics or Narrative can be enhanced
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