Follow Your Basic Instincts
Sometimes you just want to take down a horde of zombies. Instinct fulfills that need nicely -- but it also attempts to do a lot more.
The graphics in this PC shooter game don't compare with those of most modern titles, such as Splinter Cell or Oblivion. But Instinct offers innovative gameplay and storytelling. And the main characters speak in their native Russian (with English subtitles), so their emotions are not watered down or lost in translation.
In the game, a Russian special-forces team is sent to rescue a trapped scientist working in a North Korean laboratory. The scientist accidentally released a virus that turned almost everyone in the compound into near-zombies who rely just on instinct. Since they aren't true zombies, they can use simple weapons, including axes and shotguns. There are also some living Korean commandos defending the facility. Again the graphics fall short: Enemy models are repeated often.
You can play each of the three main characters, who have different skills and secret motivations outside the mission. In fact, you even revisit levels as different characters. Even a few hours can change the way the place looks as things spiral out of control. The plot jumps around, too, which keeps you guessing. You might hear your companion screaming for help over the radio and wonder what terrible event is happening, only to find out later when you have to live through it.
And you briefly get to experience life as a near-zombie, which is a nice twist that unfortunately the game does not fully exploit.
Instinct won't be up for any "game of the year" awards, but the storytelling is intriguing, and if you just want to blast some zombies, there's always that.
-- John Breeden II
Instinct Mature; PC Windows XP/Vista ($40) Wild Hare Entertainment Instinct Mature; PC Windows XP/Vista ($40) Wild Hare Entertainment