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Outbreak: Undead
[978-0-615-37832-9]
$19.99 $13.39
Publisher: Hunters Books
by Nathan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/30/2011 03:31:31
Outbreak: Undead is a zombie horror survival rpg - a big one, clocking in at over 430 pages. And it is chock full of rules, lots and lots of beautiful rules for killing zombies, surviving zombie attacks, and fortifying your base to stop those damn zombies from getting in! That being said, the rules aren't overly difficult to get your head around, and everything runs off a straightforward percentage system, with margins of success for every ten points you pass or fail a roll by. I would say the game is thorough, more than it is complex, and I like that. How thorough? The equipment chapter is almost 100 pages and covers everything from chainsaws (obviously) to guns, to body armour and drugs. The 20 pages before that are just about vehicles - how to drive them, how to run them into stuff, and how to get away from a zombie horde in them. The GM chapter is close to 100 pages too, and covers all the ground you would expect it to - how to create and run encounters, and advice on turning the player characters into zombies!
This is a realistic kind of game, where combat is bloody and the horror visceral. Making it even more realistic is the recommendation for the players to play themselves, in locations they are familiar with. There is plenty of advice to help you out with this, and I really like the idea. The basic premise of the game is to put the characters in a specific situation after a zombie outbreak, and give them a specific objective, such as last a particular amount of time, escape to somewhere safer, or kill all the zombies. This "mission" structure, combined with the possibility of player yourself in your hometown means you could play out all those conversations you've had with friends (you know you've had them), about what you would do in a zombie outbreak. Cool.
But the rules aren't even the best part. For me, the LOOK of the book is where it is at. It is kind of like a survivor's scrapbook, filled with bad sketches, crummy polaroid photos, hand scrawled messages and sticky-notes. It is a really eclectic mix of documents, fonts and art, all presented as if stuck into a notebook it I think it captures the theme of the game beautifully. I am not normally a fan of such wildly different art styles in one book, and some of the art is pretty average, but here it all works together to present as an artefact from the world it is creating.
The book is not without its faults, though I will admit they are pretty small ones. The table of contents is not hyperlinked, and neither are the chapter numbers that are on the edge of every page. I wish they were. Furthermore the bookmarks are only for the start of each chapter, which means there is a fair bit of virtual page flipping in those 100-page chapters. I also had difficulty reading large portions of the text that were presented as handwriting. Now, it was clear and neat, and very effective in terms of creating an "artefact", but it was not as easy as reading more typical "typed" text.
Overall, I am really impressed by Outbreak: Undead.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Outbreak: Undead
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