Last Stand Union City Game

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Scavenge and Survive in the Last Stand: Union City

Jack has been through a lot: taking a small band of survivors and lasting through several nights of shooting down zombies. Travelling across an urban wasteland getting more people to join him and defending whatever places they may decide to take camp in. And finally, making their way across hordes of zombies to get to Union City -where the promise of safety, and more importantly, evacuation, awaits.

This third, and highly anticipated sequel to the Last Stand series does take place after Jack's massive plight from the first two games, but the devs at con artists have quite a surprise for fans: instead of playing the familiar old character from the previous titles, you get to make you own character, and explore the dangers of Union city from a different perspective.

A Whole New Point of View

The deportation from the use of a familiar lead character is somewhat startling and quite a disappointing bit of news for fans of the first two games -particularly those who have grown fond of the character. But it also marks a massive change in the game's actual play system; gone is the old shoot and defend motif of the first two games: Union City has its own set of challenges to keep you on your toes -literally.

The game starts with your lead character behind the steering wheel driving back to your home in Union City. As you go through the highway, a small accident forces you out of the vehicle and into the streets. And as one would expect from the Last Stand series, these streets are full of zombies -so you must slowly make you way back to your home in the city. In between, you will encounter other survivors, small groups of people who have decided to stick together, government and military personnel, and even our old pal Jack (he even helps you out for a bit). The game's main goal is for you to reunite your character with your missing spouse -and it is going to be one long and dangerous journey.

This Feels a Lot Like Fallout 3

Okay, we will say it outright for those of you who are big gaming fans: Last Stand: Union City is pretty much a side scrolling Fallout 3 style game. But instead of getting through a nuclear apocalypse, you have to get through a zombie apocalypse. There are plenty of things that are similar, such as the scavenging system, the way you can pick locks, the inventory management, character stat growth, skills, and a few others. And it really is not much of a bad thing; after all, it makes the game unique and enjoyable -though not in the same way that the fans of the older game might have liked.

What has happened here is that Last Stand 3 is completely different from 1 and 2. While the sequel and the original basically shared a similar gameplay structure, it has been changed in this third game. No longer will be defending a site or base on a nightly basis, managing survivors and deciding when to hunt for food, weapons or other survivors. You will now be constantly on the move, controlling only one character (and possibly aided by a single NPC) as you move through the city. Sure, the story still continues from the first game, but it is such as massive departure that it might as well be a completely different game series for those who are looking to experience more of the base-fortification style gameplay of the first two iterations.

Getting back to Last Stand: Union City, your movements are basically controlled by the directional button, allowing you to move around the stages in a general side scoring fashion. Some of the maps feature buildings, sewers and multilevel passages so there will also be a bit of traversing up and down as well. For combat, the mouse serves as your directional tool and the cursor turns into a reticule for aiming (this is the same for melee -except that your range is expectedly small). The rest of the game functions are accessible through hotkeys on your keyboard which means that accessing your inventory, stats, journal and other functions are just a quick keystroke away.

Unlike the previous game's wave based combat, zombies in Union City are a constant threat. They will be present in many of the areas by default and in plenty of cases, new zombies will arrive on the scene -often attracted by the noise you made or simply waiting in ambush. The real challenges lie with the massive hordes that pop up en masse at certain points in the game. They will either burst through from upper levels or just come stampeding in from one side of the stage. If you are armed and ready for a fight, it is possible to take these threats down without having to suffer much, or even any, damage at all (the reward being plenty of experience point earnings from all the kills). But if you get caught unaware, it is possible that this onslaught would force you to restart (you could also leave the current room or area then just come back, the area then reloads and the hordes will simply vanish).

Make enough zombie kills and eventually you earn enough experience points to level up -allowing you to add a permanent stat point increase. Your character's build is entirely up to you -focusing on different stats allows for different ways to approach and play this game. Since there are no dry-cut job classes, how your character will turn out is entirely up to your preference. Role playing also adds a bit of a spice to the game as well. Since you get to decide a lot of things (even what you wear), you can immerse yourself more by adding in a personal touch to the game itself.

Union City has been Zombified

When a city falls under the attack of zombies, you can expect to see plenty of chaos, lots of blood stained walls, burning buildings, shattered windows, smashed up cars, random corpses, and surviving vestiges of the evidence of humanity's struggle to survive. And you get to see it all in nicely drawn 2D art. There is plenty of depth and texture to many of the onscreen elements which adds a bit more perspective to the 2D style game, and that certainly helps. Also, the various constructs provide a flavor and feel to each location -easily telling you of a silent story of what happened there -people getting cornered and killed, or barricades that have been overrun. This gets even more fun if you are a big fan of zombie themed games, movies, and other media, as it becomes easier to identify problematic areas and on the side, appreciate the little references made (and any game that allows us to have a light moment or even a chuckle in the face of certain death deserves high marks).

The music may seem a little too bland or stale for some, but most of use found it suited to the environment. Sure, some players may want a little more power and strength from the speakers as they blow off zombie heads in a rhythmic fashion, but the subtleness of the somber and morose score seems to enunciate the world of Last Stand in a more appropriate manner.

The sound effects do sound campy and overused at some points, but in terms of function, they work pretty well. You can hear the resounding click of the clip being reloaded into your gun or the audio cue of a lock being picked providing you with non-visual prompts to get moving before the hordes catch up with you. And as common-sounding as the sound effects for the guns may be, nothing is as satisfying as the sound of an improvised shotgun mowing down a zombie about to gnaw on your neck.

The Verdict

Considering that Last Stand: Union City is the last true single player game in the series (Last Stand: Dead Zone -the fourth game, is a social networking title that has less of a story and more of a Farmville-ish pace to it), it certainly leaves much unresolved. Even at the very end of the game, this third installment casually carries on an open ended scenario much in the vein of the first two games. However, since the next one in the series is less story driven, it makes us all wonder about the fate of Jack and our LS: Union City character.

By itself, Union City is already a great game. Sure it moves away from many of the things we loved from the first two titles, but it still delivers a pretty good zombie shooting experience that has us exploring the world of Last Stand in a more personal and in-depth manner. Change or not, this is a good solid game with great controls, a well made visual design, and a gameplay that will delight many browser gaming fans. We give this game a frantic survivor's 93/100.