Urban Dead – a multiplayer game of my heart

” The city is dying. Some months on from the first reported outbreak, military quarantine units have closed Malton’s borders, and are moving in to eliminate the looters, to forcibly evacuate those civilians who still refuse to leave their homes.

The city is dying, and the urban dead are filling its streets.”

Most MMORPGs go for beautiful graphics, complicated and intriguing storylines and communication. To me, it seems as if though they’re reaching to cover every aspect of what their players could possibly want… to make sure that said players will never stop playing.

I was slightly obsessed with one of those games for a summer. As the summer progressed, I found that the game almost demanded that I log in for several hours every day to keep up with the friends I made… and when I could not, the game experience was ruined.

Now… Urban Dead is a browser-based game where you can only log on for a short time every day. The graphics are absolutely basic and reminds me of the really old kind of games I played on the first computer my brother had. The interaction with other players is also quite basic. You can chat, but like in real life – anyone who stands nearby will hear what you’re saying. You can fight together, band together, and run wild through the streets together.

You see, Urban Dead is a game about survivors. Poor, pathetic humans on the streets of a city run over by zombies. The zombies aren’t monsters programmed by the people who made the game – they’re other players. They’re players, like you, who were killed by zombies and died. When they woke up next time, they were shambling, monstrous things unable to communicate, think, or do a whole lot but shamble along the streets, trying to kill humans.

It’s awesome.

It’s back to the basics, back to simplicity, and since the creators aren’t trying to make you pay them anything, the game allows for sporadic play and ten minutes of fun gaming here and there without any major interruptions to your life. The ‘fun’ of it is the panic of running from building to building, trying to survive. Attempting to find a safe house before you log out – because if you don’t, a zombie will creep up and kill your abandoned character. Logging in to find you’ve been zombified is usually accompanied by a lot of cursing, stomping of your feet, and then grudging acceptance.

‘graagh’ you say, shuffling along the streets. Hoping some merciful survivor will try to revive you instead of butcher your undead self.