Author - Jennifer Paxton

Interview with Jon Braver of Delusion: Lies Within

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Recently, we got the chance to interview Jon Braver, the creator of Delusion: Lies Within, the interactive horror theatre experience running at the Fitzgerald Mansion in Los Angeles, CA about his event and background.


Q) Hi Jon – thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. We wanted to start with finding out a bit about you. It is written in your bio that you worked as a stuntman for a multitude of blockbuster films, such as Star Trek, Transformers 3, and more. How do you go from awesome Hollywood stuntman to the creator of an “Interactive Horror Theatre” experience like Delusion?

A) Awesome Hollywood Stuntman! That sounds cool. 😉 Despite what you may think I actually like the moniker “creator of an Interactive Horror Theatre experience” better! Because it has the word “creator” in there. Being a stuntman, while exhilarating as it was (and still is), held me back creatively. And jobs were at the whim of so many others. Not to sound trite, but I needed to control more of my own destiny. I learned an ungodly amount about filmmaking and life in general from some of the best names in the business. They all had a huge influence on where I am now. Delusion (and directing) has always been my main passion and with the amazing talent pool I’ve connected with over the years I have been enabled to fully realize this passion project. The idea of Delusion came from my love of classic horror films (i.e. The Shining, The Omen II, Aliens) as well as a yearning for my super geek days of role-playing games. I decided to combine the two and place the audience inside a living, breathing world of mystery, horror and suspense. Thankfully, the audience has responded with the common saying “…I felt like I was inside a horror film!” This is the best response I can get.

Q) As this is your fourth year creating the Delusion horror experience, what has changed since you started – what has gotten easier, more difficult, etc?

A) A loaded question. Well, for one thing, I’m not married anymore! Ha…ha……..ha…(trailing off awkwardly). Perhaps starting off too personal was a bad idea. Oh well. I could just go back and erase that answer but….fuck it…I want to look forward! But seriously, so much has changed. Nothing has gotten easier except selling tickets. We have built an amazing following of spectacular people, many of whom I’ve had the honor of meeting. These people confirm the strong desire for this new type of theatre, a more intimate, and lasting, psychologically disturbing experience. If anything, Delusion has gotten more difficult mainly due to the stifling LA bureaucracy and permit process. Don’t get me wrong, there are many in city agencies who support what we’re doing (i.e. fire marshals could just say no, but they don’t) but the protocol to getting this type of thing going makes it difficult. We’re just trying to innovate and create and there are many obstacles in that path that can indirectly chip away at your creativity and goals. Yet, I have an amazing team beside me. They truly make this whole production happen. And the fans of the show, mixed with my stubborn desire to return to my childhood, keeps me going!

Q) I am ashamed to say that we have not yet had the thrill of going to one of the past Delusion productions, but are planning to remedy that this year. Is there anything you would want to tell us as first timers going to the event?

A) (gasp) You have never been to any of my plays?! That’s it…this interview is over. (I got up, left my house, then shook it off….and now I’m back). Ok, it’s fine, I understand. All I’ll say is this, and it’s the most important thing to know before you enter our world: Let yourself go completely and be a kid again. If you fully commit and respect the story, you will get everything I want people to get out of it. There is great depth in this story. It is all about the story. Don’t expect a haunted house experience or simply to be terrified. This is a tale of mystery, horror, suspense, love, death and otherworldliness!

Q) Could you give us a bit of a rundown as to the time it takes you to create Delusion. When do you start brainstorming, writing, etc?

A) It seems to take all year! Finding a venue has been the biggest hurdle, and everything depends on that. The earlier I get the venue, the easier the process is. This year we got it in early May. Last year (2013) it was early August. That was extremely difficult to pull off….but we did it! Once I get the venue, I start writing immediately in the space itself. It takes about 6 weeks to write the play, then we dive into pre-prod. Typically, it takes about 3 1/2 months of prep to make it happen.

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Image from CreepyLA.com

Q) One of my favorite films of all time is John Carpenter’s The Thing. The creepiest thing about it, on a personal level, isn’t the monsters or the gore effects but the amount of distrust and paranoia that Carpenter infused in the story. What were some of your inspirations in crafting Delusion’s plot?

A) Mine too. The music, the setting, the overall tone of the film makes you terribly uneasy along with the actors. In terms of inspiration, I love RPG’s. I haven’t been able to play them forever, but I love them. Games like King’s Quest, Baldur’s Gate and The Witcher shine through into Delusion. Like I said earlier, my favorite films in the horror and suspense genre are Aliens, The Shining, The Omen II, Pan’s Labyrinth and The Orphanage (Spanish film). I always tell people Delusion is a tonal mix of all these films and games. Also, you should know, I hate blood, guts and gore unless required for the story. Delusion’s fear tactics have always been, and will continue to be, psychological in nature. For this year’s plot, my inspirations initially came from the venue itself. I feel the energy of the place and let it, along with ideas from my past, shape the story. Each year is different. I’ll give you a taste of what this year is all about. I’ve decided to venture into a bit of fantasy for this one. We are circa 1948 as we dive into the world of Elena Fitzgerald: a revered and reclusive novelist whose daughter went missing many years ago. After this horrific event, Elena fell into a dark place in her mind…as one would imagine. She became convinced that if she finished a dark, epic book series called The Stygian Ascent her daughter Mary would be returned to her. Her twisted devotion to writing has brought about her characters into the real world. They protect her, they love her and will not rest until she does as she promised she would: finish the series. The audience plays the part of Elena’s rabid fans, who have been without a book for many years. They won’t take it anymore and decide to invade Elena’s manor and find out what’s happened to her.

Q) As Delusion is basically a theatre experience, you have to use real actors I would imagine. How do you work your audition process?

A) I have a wonderful casting director and assistant director. We all go through the typical casting process with Actors Access, Backstage and the like. I like to hire, first and foremost, passionate people. Must have a wonderful attitude to join this crew. They don’t have to be the best but if I see something wonderful in them, I get excited to try and bring that out.

Q) Going along with the interactive theatre vibe, do guests have to be prompted at all with any lines to remember to say or are they able to improvise with the actors?

A) Every year there are moments like this. Being interactive in nature, there is always improvisation. Yet, this is a precisely timed experience and the actors must keep the show going. They are pro at allowing improv while not letting it interfere with the story and timing. The show is also timed to an original, musical score (one of my favorite things!). So there are moments that the actors must hit, and they can’t let the audience get in the way of that. So in short, there is a mixture of both the impromptu and the scripted.

Q) One of the more unique aspects of Delusion is that guests are asked to “check” their phones before the experience actually begins. Have you ever considered making smartphones part of the experience as an investigational or navigational tool, etc?

A) I have not. I enjoy period pieces along with time away from technology. People look down at their phones enough already. All my plays (so far) have taken place early to mid 20th century.

Q) ScareLA has become a really large haunted attraction/Halloween convention in Southern California. We saw that you guys were holding auditions there, correct? How many actors is Delusion employing this year?

A) That was fun! Open calls can be both exciting and…surprising 😉 I have hired about 29 actors (only 19 work each night). I have to double cast certain characters to maintain the flow of the play.

Q) In closing, Jon, is there anything you can tell us about Delusion and why our readers should make it a must-see part of their Halloween season this year?

A) Delusion: Lies Within is a haunting tale that touches upon all elements of what makes a great and captivating story! I love creating something that allows people to escape for a time into a place we never get to go back to: our imagination-filled, childlike days. I am a hopeless adult. I want to be a kid again so badly, and this (along with my daughter) brings me, and others, back. Like I said earlier, let yourself go completely and be a kid again. Just don’t expect a haunted house experience or simply to be startled. There is great depth to this story. It is all about the story…and you! Many have returned more than once and gotten something new out of it each time. This’ll be great fun…I promise!


We would like to thank both Jon Braver of Delusion and Tad Hamilton of Mosaic PR for making this interview possible. You can checkout ticket information and more for Delusion: Lies Within at its official website.

Haunted Hollywood Sports 2014 Media Preview Event

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Haunted Hollywood Sports (see our 2013 review) is the haunted attraction put on by paintball and airsoft field, Hollywood Sports Park, in Bellflower, CA. A week prior to the start of their haunt, Haunted Hollywood Sports had us, and a lot of other media outlets, out for their 2014 media preview night. The evening started with a busy media check-in process followed by waiting in line for our military transports which were going to take us out to a Forward Operating Base (FOB) where we would be able to kill zombies, eat, and party. They had both open-back Humvee trucks as well as a covered “deuce-and-a-half” transport that were shuttling media back and forth.

After a brief on-stage introduction by the park’s owner, Gio Degidio, they began sending off media groups into one of two attractions open for our checking out: Venom, a traditional haunted house, and the Zombie Killhouse, where guests are given safety goggles, a protective vest, and a BB-firing rifle to go through a variety of structures, clearing them of the undead. Haunted Hollywood Sports has been putting these zombie killhouses on for four years now, and they are very good at it thanks to a lot of trial and error, as well as their inherent experience with both paintball and airsoft action sports.

Our first stop of the evening was Venom, one of their walk-through haunted house mazes. Venom takes guests through a system of catacombs where all manner of strange things await. We were attacked by spiders, spoken at by severed heads, and I even took a step forward in my fight against claustrophobia by going through a very long “claustrophobia hallway”. Despite the fact that the maze seemed a bit undermanned, which I am unsure if it was just because it was a special event, I was pleased with the maze and its scares.

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The second attraction we got to check out was the one I was most excited for – the Zombie Killhouse. Getting led into the quarantine zone by soldiers, we were taken into a large military tent and briefed on our objective and how to properly handle the airsoft rifles and safety gear we would be using. After some cool things that happened in the tent (which I will not spoil for you future guests), we headed into the park’s daytime “Combat Center” which had been transformed into a winding maze of obstacles. Being an airsoft player at this park in daytime conditions, it was really cool to see the transformation and it took me some time to get my bearings as to where I was in the facility. Led by a squad leader and rear guard, we moved into buildings, clearing them one by one of zombies. Speaking of which, the zombie characters were protected by padded uniforms and full face zombie airsoft masks, and it was extremely satisfying to shoot them at close range. The visceral nature of shooting them and hearing your BB ricochet off their masks, followed by their playing dead was awesome. The whole thing was lit in black light, so visibility was much better than previous years.

Guests are provided a G36G style airsoft rifle (basically an extended G36) and one midcap magazine, which hold about 120 BBs, for the attraction. Being an airsoft player that is used to conserving her ammunition, I had no problems with running dry – and I don’t recall my squad mates running empty either. The biggest issue with the airsoft rifles provided was their long muzzle length, which does not lend itself to close quarters battle (CQB) environments. I accidentally tagged a couple of the monsters with my muzzle. I had hoped they would provide M4 style airsoft rifles with shorter barrels – but, I digress.

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Also seen during the course of the evening were several entertainment acts – from a magician to a street performer who would allow viewers to staple money to various parts of his anatomy. The performer got to keep the money, of course, and this act seemed to be a crowd-pleaser.

Overall, the Zombie Killhouse was my favorite attraction of the two. It was exhilarating and, if you are only used to walk-through haunted houses, will be a very cool change of pace for you. Who knows – you may even pick up the game of airsoft after running the Zombie Killhouse. If you do not wish to go through the park’s killhouses, you will also be pleased with their more traditional, walk-though haunted houses. There is a little something for everyone.

Haunted Hollywood Sports runs October 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25, 26, 31, and November 1. You can find ticket information and more at their official website.

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Wargame Series Sells 1 Millionth Copy

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July 24, 2014 — Wargame, the spectacular series of strategy games developed by Eugen Systems, has set a new benchmark in the RTS genre since the release of its first title in February 2012.

Wargame managed to attract a large player base, by offering radically different gameplay from other RTS games, featuring original mechanics, spectacular visuals, and a gaming experience of extreme realism and unprecedented tactical depth, with the series becoming richer and more ambitious with every new game. Today, the Wargame franchise reaches a major milestone with its millionth copy sold!

Faithful to their principles of consistent post-launch game support – notably with free additional content – Eugen Systems celebrates this event by offering to all Wargame Red Dragon players its first free DLC, fittingly named The Millionth Mile!

Focusing on the Eastern Bloc coalition, The Millionth Mile features more than 60 new units for Poland, Czechoslovakia, and East-Germany, bringing them into the 90’s and on an equal footing with Red Dragon’s main nations. The entire range of units are represented in the DLC: infantry, tanks, planes, troop transports, and of course helicopters.

But The Millionth Mile also introduces a brand new kind of unit, in the form of an AShM (anti-ship missile!) truck carrier. These units, whose main function is to engage ships over long distances from the land, increase the tactical depth of the game while redefining Wargame’s naval warfare!

Wargame Red Dragon players will find their game has been automatically updated with the DLC The Millionth Mile next time they launch the game. Reinforcements have arrived, the battle continues!

Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare Review

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In Southern California, Halloween has become a very big deal. Orange County is home to Knott’s Berry Farm, the originators of the modern haunted event with their annual Knott’s Scary Farm Halloween Haunt. Just north of that in Los Angeles County, you can find Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights as well as Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Fright Fest. Additionally, a huge number of smaller scale pro-haunts can be found sprinkled throughout. When you’ve exhausted all those options, and your wallet, you can typically find homegrown amateur events in residential neighborhoods for miles in any direction. This all can make it rather hard to find enough elbow room to launch a new event. Leave it to someone as audacious as Rob Zombie to give it a go with his Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare.

Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare is an all new haunted event debuting at the Pomona Fairplex for 2013. Pomona has hosted an event like this before, the “Pomona Fearplex”, which ran until 2008 – but nothing on the scale of what Zombie and event producer Steve Kopelman have in store for SoCal residents. In just ten short days (after waiting for the LA County Fair to close up shop) Kopelman’s team managed to create three mazes based on Zombie’s films: ‘The Lords of Salem’, ‘The Haunted World of El Superbeasto’, and ‘House of 1000 Corpses’. This was a huge undertaking and we got the chance to experience the final product on its opening night/media event last week.

Great American Nightmare takes place across two hangars of the fairground as well as the midway between them. All three mazes are packed into one hangar with the queue lines daisy-chained together. You’ll experience all three attractions in rapid succession. The other hangar is reserved for performance space for the various headlining bands that perform each night of the event. Between the two hangars, you’ll find vendor tents, food, alcohol, and some very impressive talent bringing various creatures to life outside of the mazes. This all lends to a very concert-like atmosphere with some Halloween tricks and treats thrown in for good measure.

The Lords of Salem is an Adult Maze

The Lords of Salem is an Adult Maze

Upon first entering the hangar housing the mazes was ‘The Lords of Salem in Total Blackout,’ where we were greeted by an impressive facade that spanned almost the entire width of the room. Bathed in red light on a raised altar was a woman playing Sherri Moon’s main character from the film which inspired the maze. She was struggling to free herself and asking for help while to the left a giant demonic skull protruded over the line of guests waiting to enter the maze. This did a great job of setting an exciting tone for the first maze.

Once we made it through the queue line, we entered a holding pen where two men in robes and skull like face-paint placed a black sack over each of our heads, insulting us and telling us that we were never going to make it through alive. This does a great job of building suspense and excitement as they shove you into the maze to navigate your way through without the luxury of sight.

Lords of Salem challenges you to navigate while almost completely blind. Feeling your way through the darkness proves to be very disorienting at first which can give way to a feeling of anxiety, but after a few minutes of walking down empty hallways plus the fact that some light bleeds from above the maze walls allowing you to navigate, the intensity quickly wore off. At that point, the hood seemed like more of an annoyance than anything scary. The maze features gags such as a short stretch of shifting fun house floors and wall panels that would give a small shock if touched, but they were rare and didn’t seem to relate to the maze’s theme. The talent was also sparse and seem to be going for scares as much as they were aggressively grunting ushers pushing you in the right direction. This maze would have greatly benefited from more texture on the walls, a shorter maze length, or perhaps low lit scenes that would be slightly visible through the hood to connect a story to the maze. As it is, the only connection I could find to The Lords of Salem is the maze’s facade. Unfortunately, this one fell very flat after the opening moments.

Winds of Plague Front Man Jon Cooke

Winds of Plague Front Man Jon Cooke

As we rounded the corner, after having our hoods removed, we were greeted by a neon mural announcing ‘The Haunted World of El Superbeasto – 3D’. 3D glasses were passed out and we quickly headed into the most adult-themed claustrophobia hallway I have ever experienced, a reverse-birth if you will, which is the perfect way to start off this homage to the raunchy film of the same name.

If it wasn’t made clear before reaching this maze there is no doubt that this is absolutely an adult event and is not meant for children. Sexual innuendos abound and some scenes are very forthcoming in their filth. If you are a fan of the El Superbeasto film, then you will be happy to see that this maze is not watered down in the slightest.

Just as in the film, the maze follows El Superbeasto, an exploitation film director/actor/masked wrestler and his sidekick Suzi-X in their quest to prevent world domination by the evil Dr. Satan. Many citizens of Monsterland make cameos throughout the attraction. There is an impressive level of detail in the many custom made latex masks and some of the best 3-D work we have ever seen in a haunted attraction. It truly feels like you are in the middle of an animated film brought to life.

This maze was alive with energy and captured the essence of the film. The talent was outstanding in their performances and, although not overly-scary, the maze was definitely a mature, manic good time.

Last up was ‘Haunt of 1000 Corpses.’ The maze deviates slightly from the standard route of re-telling the story of the movie it’s based on. Instead, you’ll find yourself walking through the infamous ‘Murder Ride’ staffed by Capt. Spaulding and the Firefly family.

This maze boasts absolutely the best visual design of any of the three attractions, and some of the best design of any haunted attractions we’ve visited this season. Scenes flow seamlessly from one to the next, even though they’re not necessarily completely related. You’ll find yourself visiting vignettes of some of the most storied serial killers of history, from H.H. Holmes to the Manson Family all ending with a face to face meeting with Capt. Spaulding and Dr. Satan himself.

Rob Zombie and Sheri Moon Zombie

Rob Zombie and Sheri Moon Zombie

Each and every talent in the maze was fully committed to their roles. We saw inbred maniacs humping away at anything they could get their pelvises close to. We saw cannibals doing less than moral things to female corpses. We saw Capt. Spaulding berating passersby while threatening them with phallic balloons. Once again, just like El Superbeasto, this is a very mature maze and definitely not suitable for kids. It, in a very unapologetic way, hits a very hard R-rating and it couldn’t have pleased us more.

If there’s any drawback to the way the event is organized it would be the daisy chaining of the mazes. All three are in the same hangar and lead right into each other with no breaks. There were no restrooms along the queues so if you have to pee definitely do so before entering. Because of the layout of the attractions, all guests are limited to one trip through. To avoid having a massive pile-up at the entrance the event is using a number system. Wait until your number is called to get in line, but while doing so you can shop the vendor tents, catch a classic horror movie on their outdoor projector screen, and watch the talent outside go to work. The outdoor talent was incredibly active, imaginative, and we never saw them drop character once. From the carny who let guests use real staples to pin dollar bills to his torso to the creepy undead children, the outside talent never disappointed.

Overall, Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare was very impressive – especially for its first year. While a little annoying, the queue system makes sense due to needing to move guests through the attraction and on to the concert venue. ‘The Lords of Salem’ has a lot of work cut out for it if it is to return for a second year but the other two mazes do a lot to make up for what the first one lacks. Also, with bands like Reel Big Fish, Goldfinger, Winds of Plague, and Rob Zombie himself performing, if you pick a night where an act you care about is onstage you really can’t beat the $30 entry price for a concert plus an impressive freshman haunt attraction. If you live in the SoCal area this is one haunt to definitely keep your eye on.

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Genius GX Gaming Maurus X Mouse Review

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Genius has released their Maurus X gaming mouse and we were lucky enough to check one out. The Maurus X was designed with first-person shooter gamers in mind, and says so right on the packaging. Genius has clad the Maurus X mostly in black plastic with red accents and the mouse features a nice, rubberized sides to hold on to. Genius GX Gaming has also given the Maurus X some red lighting to accent the overall look of the mouse, and the pulsation and intensity of this lighting can be adjusted in the included software.

The mouse has a moderately-sized footprint and ambidextrous layout, and I found that “palm” PC gamers should have no problem using it. “Claw” gamers will have to work a bit to get used to the added weight of the mouse, but I digress… Speaking of weight, the Maurus X is hefty, with an additional 50G of metal weight built into it. The nice thing about this weight is that it makes the Maurus X very precise and stable. It smooths out the mouse’s movements and won’t jump around as much as lighter mice do when the player does things like breathe or cough.

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Official Specifications

  • Professional 6-button FPS gaming mouse
  • Over-clocking SGCi: dpi in 800/1600/2400/3200/4000
  • Instant DPI switch button with minor adjuster function
  • Response within 1ms; 8-times quicker than standard response
  • Scorpion Gaming User Interface with five profile settings
  • Metal weight to enhance hand grip and feel
  • Onboard memory to prevent game block
  • 1.8 meter braided cable with gold-plated USB connector
  • Enlarged length and rubber finish grip for total control

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The Maurus X also features six mouse buttons which can be programmed and assigned macros via the included Genius GX Gaming control software. Additional accessories include another set of mouse feet to replace the existing ones on the mouse when they get worn out. It is a nice bit of added value that will extend the lifespan of the Maurus X quite a bit. At the heart of the Maurus X is an Avago ADNS3090 optical sensor capable of up to 4000DPI in 800DPI increments and a 32-bit processor.

Using the Maurus X, I was continually impressed by how precise it was. Moving and shooting in games like Battlefield 3 and Arma 3, I found the mouse to definitely enhance the overall experience. Some reviews have claimed that the Maurus X felt rough when sliding across a mouse pad. I did not find this to be the case. It should be noted that the packaging also claims that the Maurus X was designed with MMOs in mind. With its macro capabilities and precise movement, I can see why and had no problems using the Maurus X in EverQuest (it’s the only free to play MMO I have on my PC right now).

The biggest detriment to choosing the Maurus X is that, for slightly more than its $61 dollar price point, there are more robust mousing options on the market. Features like lift-off height, more or less than 800DPI increments of adjustment, etc are not to be found on this mouse and more advanced players may want them.

Overall, the Genius GX Gaming Maurus X gaming mouse is a fine choice for fragging your enemies with. If I were a pro RTS or FPS player seeking additional customization and sensitivity options, I would probably select a different mousing solution. However, for the casual to mid-level FPS or MMO players, you will be very happy with the Maurus X. The Genius GX Gaming Maurus X mouse retails for about $61 dollars and is available at online retailers now.

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2013 San Diego Comic-Con Photo Blog #3

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Here is the third installment of our San Diego Comic-Con Photo blog posts – enjoy! Also, a special thanks to Adrianne Curry for her continued ferocity in bringing characters to life through cosplay.

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State of Decay Review (Xbox 360)

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A feral zombie had been sighted near my base camp. A series of choices open up in front of me; Take a car or head out on foot? Machete or shotgun? Stock up on painkillers or travel light in case I find prize loot? Every option must be carefully weighed, lest I find myself unprepared should my car attract a horde or my weapon break at the least opportune moment. This is the balancing act that State of Decay walks masterfully.

State of Decay, premiere effort of newcomers Undead Labs, offers a different gaming take on the zombie apocalypse. Yes, we’ve had zombie games come before. Left 4 Dead got our adrenaline pumping with its run and gun blood fest. Dead Rising gave us a playground of insanity in which to wear cheerleader outfits and wield electrified chainsaws. The Walking Dead wrought tears as we risked it all to protect Clementine in one of 2012’s best gaming story lines. None of these, however brilliant they are in their own light, has come close to evoking the terror of barely surviving to see the next day of undead hell in the way that State of Decay presents.

Before I go any further, let me make this perfectly clear: BUY. THIS. GAME.

State of Decay packs more ambition than any game I can think of in recent memory and by and large it pulls it off. If there’s one secret to State of Decay, it’s this: State of Decay is an RPG. Microsoft Studios certainly has been burying the lead there, with a trailer that sets it up as more of GTA: Zombies. Make no mistake, there is definitely a right way and a wrong way to play this game. Choosing your favorite gun and setting out on the open road to be a one man slaying machine? Enjoy not having any fun at all. State of Decay is about the choices that come with the risk and reward inherent in every single decision you make, and boldly going forward as a one man army is about the worst decision you can make in this game.

Everything in this game has its pros and cons, the likes of which lead to a very interesting emergent storytelling. The loud stopping power of a gunshot versus getting in close with a silent melee weapon or risking the noise of driving a car versus the vulnerable stealth of moving on foot, everything is a careful choice to be made. Sure, Fallout and your Mass Effect present a series of options leading to a choose-your-own-adventure style of storytelling, but the Mass Effect and Fallout games have never made me consider things like packing for my trip. If I have to travel across the map to an unexplored area I might do things like pack extra health, bring a gun, or choose a quieter car. The last thing I want to do is try to find supplies if I get overwhelmed, have a weapon break on me, or attract a horde of zombies with the loud rumble of a truck, especially being miles away from any safe zones.

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These choices are important due to the overwhelming fear of death in this game. Dead Rising and Left 4 Dead never really left me feeling threatened by the undead and The Walking Dead didn’t kill anybody unless they had to die for the story to progress. State of Decay features permanent death for your characters. That means that if Marcus, my heavy weapon expert with the cardio of a marathon runner, goes down in the middle of a fight, there are no reloads, no extra lives, no do-overs unless I start the game over again. Marcus is dead, along with all of his skills and experience. The game will instantly save and drop you behind the controls of another survivor in your group. Now, hopefully this survivor won’t be woefully under-powered as the game does encourage the development of everyone in your party. While you only control one survivor at a time, that survivor will eventually fatigue, forcing you to choose the danger of continuing in their shoes or letting somebody else take over for a while.

[quote_left]…overwhelming fear of death…[/quote_left]

Danger lies around every corner in this game. Almost every building, save for some smaller shacks and trailers that cannot accommodate the camera, can be entered. There is always something to explore and loot, and that being said, can be a potential death trap. Scouting a building before entering and having an escape route pre-planned takes importance above all and no matter what you do, never ever call a scout out to loot a building far away from home as they travel on foot and can fall victim to a horde without you there to protect them.

While there is much to be excited for, there are some shortcomings. The game suffers from frequent screen tearing and clipping issues. Zombies get stuck in fences, or worse, occasionally teleport through doors. The frame-rate is capable of dropping during heavy action and there is a noticeable amount of draw distance fog and pop in textures; I once crashed my car directly into a firetruck that hadn’t visually rendered in time for me to avoid it. That being said, this is a $20 downloadable title, a measly 1.6 GB in size, and Undead Labs submitted title update 1.1 within days of the game’s release.

[quote_right]Danger lies around every corner…[/quote_right]

State of Decay is one of the most ambitious titles I have ever played. There are some graphical issues and the story and voice work leave a little to be desired. But absolutely none of this gets in the way of the immersion and fun you’ll find once you start playing. I should have had this review done days ago but I couldn’t, in good faith, leave my survivors to their own devices. I want these people to live to see another day and I can’t wait to get home each night to jump back into the fight with them as I sneak around town finding those rare stashes of medicine so I don’t have to euthanize any more friends who have succumbed to the Black Fever.

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Omerta – City of Gangsters Demo Out Now

OMERTA_Screens_gamescom_2012_16

Ridgewood, NJ, January 24, 2013 – Kalypso Media is pleased to release a new single-player demo forOmerta – City of Gangsters today. The free demo, available at the mirrors listed below, features two levels from the upcoming Prohibition-era gangster game that mixes city conquest with tactical turn-based combat and heist planning. Grab the demo today to get a taste of Omerta, the game where it’s up to you to put together a crew of criminals and take over the city, block-by-block, through whatever means necessary.

Download the demo- 

Omerta – City of Gangsters is a simulation game with tactical turn-based combat. Taking the role of a fresh-off-the-boat immigrant, with dreams of the big life, the player will work his way up the criminal hierarchy of 1920’s Atlantic City, New Jersey. Starting with small jobs, his character recruits a gang and expands his empire by taking territory from other gangsters. Eventually he establishes his own crime syndicate and becomes the de facto ruler of Atlantic City.

The player strategically manages his business and his minions in a real-time format, slowly but steadily increasing his influence over the city. The player sends his henchmen out on missions ranging from assassinating an informant, to raiding a warehouse, springing a friend from prison, robbing a bank or attacking a rival gang’s hideout. Nobody is above the law in Atlantic City, so it always helps to have a little cash handy to bribe a policeman or pay off a politician.

The turn-based combat in Omerta – City of Gangsters focuses on the tactical command of “The Boss” and his henchmen. Cover and stealth are essential parts of any shootout in the game. Finding the best vantage point to gun down an enemy, while taking cover from a hailstorm of bullets, can be just as satisfying as sneaking quietly behind a foe and taking him down.

For more information about Omerta – City of Gangsters, please visithttp://www.cityofgangsters.com, or follow us on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/OmertaCityofGangsters and on twitter via @OmertaGame.