Killing Floor: Incursion Reviews

AuthorReview
Slam-Shot-Sam
77,993 (51,765)
Slam-Shot-Sam
TT Score for this game: 761
Posted on 11 May 18 at 10:59
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Killing Floor: Incursion | PS VR | Review

Having hit HTC VIVE and Oculus Rift late last year, Killing Floor: Incursion has finally made the transition to more budget-friendly hardware in the form of Sony’s PlayStation VR headset. Bringing the Killing Floor series’ gory brand of sci-fi horror to a new dimension, Incursion is a mix of old and new that achieves varying degrees of success.

Franchises tend to condense themselves down to their core mechanics on a first foray into virtual reality, all too often taking the form of wave-based shooters in the process. Already having a couple of those under their belt and not content to rest on their laurels, the team at Tripwire Interactive chose the opposite approach and used Incursion as an opportunity to build the first Killing Floor story campaign around that foundation.

It’s meta narrative explains away all of the familiar quirks that currently accompany VR gameplay, while at the same time complementing the series’ goofy sense of humour. Guided by Node, a hovering robot companion, you’ll solve simple puzzles and dismember hordes of zombie-like Zeds across four missions, each set in their own unique locale.

Environments are reasonably interactive and traversed by utilising short-range teleportation by default, however an annoying cooldown feature disallows performing multiple warps in quick succession and wasted no time in convincing us that free movement was the only way to go. We’d definitely recommend making the switch, provided you can stomach VR locomotion, as it’ll also prove very useful in kiting bosses and crowds of lesser enemies when things start to get more difficult down the road.

In fact, using free movement to walk backwards whilst shooting forwards is an almost infallible strategy that can feel cheap. This is especially true of the boss encounters that conclude each mission, which are unfortunately robbed of any fear factor despite their undeniably horrific appearances. It’s pretty disappointing that the arrival of a Fleshpound elicits almost no emotion in VR, of all things, but is often met with bum-clenching terror when playing Killing Floor 2 on a 2D screen.

An annoying cooldown feature disallows teleporting multiple times in quick succession, wasting no time in convincing us that free movement was the only way to go.
Fortunately, the game fares better at instilling chills in other areas. In spite of some graphical pop-in and general fuzziness, the largely dark and moody settings make for tense and grimly detailed places to explore, aided every step of the way by incredibly effective use of 3D audio. The sound works best in confined spaces, which also happen to be locations where the aforementioned cheese strategy won’t do you any favours, making for a potent mix.

While the campaign is relatively brief at around four hours, bringing along a friend for co-op and/or graduating to the higher difficulty level are motivators for at least a second playthrough. That said, most of your time with Incursion will likely be spent engaging with Holdout mode, which is more the survival onslaught you’d expect going off Killing Floor’s past form.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering it centers on the series’ bread and butter, Holdout is the highlight regardless of relying on such a prevalent trope. Playable solo or two-player, just like the campaign, the mode introduces a range of power-ups and an over-the-top announcer that grows more and more excited as you build a score multiplier by chaining headshot kills.

Here any semblance of ambiance is dumped in favour of piping in Killing Floor’s signature heavy metal soundtrack, its breakneck tempo mirroring the frantic pace at which you’ll need to physically swing melee weapons or dual-wield firearms in order to survive the intensity. Two Move motion controllers are required to play, which you can do either seated or standing, and they mostly do a sterling job of keeping up with the frantic flailing as you make use of the game’s narrow selection of murder implements.

The overwhelming nature of Holdout’s pulse-racing encounters can easily get you flustered, causing you to fumble the somewhat button-heavy controls as your brain struggles to process inputs on top of inputs, inevitably seeing you mobbed and mauled by the ugly enemy troop with no concern for personal space. It’s here a few desperate weapon whips, punches or pushes come in handy, but not nearly as much as having a co-op partner capable of a well-timed rescue.

Holdout mode dumps any semblance of ambiance in favour of piping in heavy metal, its breakneck tempo mirroring the frantic pace at which you’ll need to act in order to survive the intensity.
Combat is satisfyingly visceral as standard, though there’s something supremely pleasing about cutting the arms off an enemy that’s reaching out to grab at your teammate; it’s also hilarious when said teammate then picks those severed limbs up and wiggles them around like wet noodles… Puppeteering the sagging jaw of a decapitated head for one another was a similarly macabre hoot, though more human interactions like simply reciprocating a wave to an online stranger or swapping weapons with one another is pleasing in itself.

Unfortunately, our time online has been hampered by spotty connections, which, coupled with a sparse selection of just five small maps (one of which is a timed PS VR exclusive), calls longevity into question for all but the most ardent highscore chasers.

When a simple horror shooter in the vein of The Brookhaven Experiment would’ve fallen so easily into place with the Killing Floor property, it’s a pleasant surprise to see Incursion go the extra mile and prove an adventurous experience more akin to Arizona Sunshine. Despite the comparisons, Incursion carves out it’s own niche by translating the Killing Floor series’ dark humour, heavy metal stylings, and sparing use of slow motion to highlight its most gloriously gory moments to a new format. On the whole, it’s an enjoyable VR shooter that unfortunately finds itself in the middle of a very crowded market.

Pros

+ Introduces the first Killing Floor story campaign
+ Holdout mode is bonkers fun
+ Gorily rewarding combat
+ Varied, detailed & iconic environments
+ Online co-op across both modes...

Cons

- … Hampered by spotty connections
- Clearly balanced around using teleportation, rather than free movement
- Teleportation is needlessly limited & unattractive as a result
- Disappointingly limited selection of weaponry compared to mainline games

7/10

Trophies

If you use free movement and walk backwards whilst firing forwards, then quickly teleport behind any enemies and repeat the process in reverse when hitting an obstacle or getting surrounded, rinsing and repeating until they're dead, you shouldn't have any trouble completing the campaign mode on Hardcore or hitting 10,000 points in Holdout. You can also use this trick for the knife kill trophies, throwing the knife at a Skrake/Fleshpound/Husk and waiting briefly for it to return to its holster. That means all you really need to worry about is securing a co-op partner to play through the campaign with and revive.

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Originally written for Pass the Controller, a digital copy of the game was provided for the purpose of this review.

Feel free to check out my other PlayStation 4 (Pro) and PlayStation VR reviews, as well as my Xbox One (X) reviews on TrueAchievements, and PC reviews on TrueSteamAchievements.

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