In memoriam, Donald Sutherland

Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler's Green

aka: Земля мертвых: Дорога к Фиддлерз Грин, 活死人之地
Moby ID: 19780
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Description official descriptions

Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler's Green is a FPS prequel to the 2005 George A. Romero film. It is also the first game based on a George A. Romero property.

You are Jack, a hick farmer who wakes up to find a stranger on his property. The stranger is a zombie, the first of many he encounters in the game. Using whatever ranged and melee weapons he can find, Jack pummels the undead back to where they came from in the goriest fashion possible. He works his way through a number of typical Romero locales (50's style hospital, cornfields, abandoned police station, loading docks, etc) on his way to Mr. Kaufman's walled city. Once there, Mr. Kaufman asks Jack to help him clean up Fiddler's Green, a luxury condominium tower. This is where the game ends, and the movie picks things up.

Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler's Green features an interesting limb specific damage system, meaning the player can literally blow the undead to pieces. It also features multiplayer over Xbox live, system link and Internet (PC). Up to eight players can enjoy deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag and invasion modes with a twist - hungry zombies are coming after everyone!

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Credits (Windows version)

59 People (47 developers, 12 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 44% (based on 15 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.1 out of 5 (based on 31 ratings with 2 reviews)

This Road Needs Some Work.

The Good
My wife doesn’t understand why I watch low budget horror movies on SciFi, but she accepts that it’s a part of me. She’s even amused that I own movies popularized by MST3K, minus the MST3K trappings that typically make them palatable. Frankly I don’t understand this either, but at least I don’t have to explain myself. In this review, however, I do have to explain why I like Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler’s Green, the video game equivalent of a bad movie. And it doesn’t help that professional reviewers have deemed this a terrible game, even nominating it for Coaster of the Year.

Road to Fiddler’s Green loosely works as a prequel to George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead (2004), but aside from the very last stage, it is its own beast. In his farmhouse, Jack hears a sinister radio broadcast and notices a stranger on his property. Of course the stranger is a zombie—actually the first in a wave of zombies which have Jack scrambling around his property collecting weaponry, keys, and health packs.

This first level is a tutorial level and has to be the clumsiest tutorial level in the annals of gaming. Jack is sent on a wild goose chase up to the attic, out to the shed, back to the house, and then back to the shed—through a growing number of zombies. What this level gets right is the feel of being stuck in the middle of a zombie attack.

The zombies are slow moving, but numerous and can quickly surround Jack if he doesn’t keep moving. Doors are minor obstacles to the zombies—when Jack searches for his rifle in the attic he hears the downstairs doors splintering and then moans alerting him that zombies are in the house. A later level finds Jack stumbling through a corn field with no visibility and moaning zombies on all sides.

Road to Fiddler’s Green is a first-person shooter, but Jack is a farmer not a combat-ready operative. He moves well, but gets winded if he tries to run everywhere. He can use weapons, but isn’t the most accurate with them. Moving away from conventional zombie-killing wisdom, it often takes more than a single headshot to bring them down (until Jack finds better weapons). Melee weapons are often as effective as guns (if Jack is willing to get that close) and a hidden power-up gives Jack kung fu skills trumping melee weapons and most guns. A few grenade-type weapons are to be found, but I found that setting zombies on fire meant dealing with angry, flaming zombies.

While headshots are questionable, zombies are susceptible to localized damage. Zombie arms and legs can be blown off, which slows them down, and trick shooters can shoot off zombie jaws (more interesting/creepy than effective). The zombies themselves pack quite a wallop. A blow from a zombie sends Jack staggering, a bite does great damage, and noxious vomiting/exploding zombies bring a world of hurt. Once again moving away from conventional zombie wisdom (and a hallmark of Romero’s Zombie Universe), Jack doesn’t stand any risk of infection. Wounds are easily cured by the ubiquitous health packs found scattered liberally around levels (along with weapons and ammo).

Road to Fiddler’s Green 20+ levels put Jack in a hospital, a police station, the sewers and other zombie-laden environs. Level design is linear, with some solid scares scripted in. One standout level has Jack sniping zombies while an NPC hotwires a truck. Another fun level, has Jack and Otis, the NPC, searching the docks for a viable boat to borrow. Most levels involve securing the area (killing all the zombies) while others are more survival based, forcing Jack to keep moving. The graphics are bolstered by strong audio effects. Radios provide updates about the zombie crisis, fires crackle convincingly, zombie moans echo eerily, and Jack’s narration furthers the story. In a touch a tad too player-friendly, anything Jack needs to interact with glows and Jack’s objectives are spoon-fed to the player, speeding up an already short game.


The Bad
There’s nothing like a great first-person shooter, and Road to Fiddler’s Green is nothing like a great first-person shooter, but with an August 2005 announcement of an October 2005 release date and a $19.99 bargain price, Groove Games wasn’t preparing the world for a Doom-killer. Still, it’s odd to have a licensed title stray so far from its source material.

The pleasures of Romero’s universe, aside from his social criticism, are the rules he’s established and his visceral handling of the material. Road to Fiddler’s Green misses this. Road to Fiddler’s Green also takes a misstep by acting as a prequel to the movie rather than dealing the movie itself—bypassing the Road Warrior setting and omitting the controversial Big Daddy. MobyGames user nccs notes that an early incarnation of this game was in development prior to Land of the Dead, so I have to wonder how much of the licensed material was an afterthought.

For what it’s worth Fiddler’s Green uses the Unreal Engine, the same build of the engine used by Star Wars: Republic Commando and SWAT 4, but this release feels dated. Environments are static and character (zombie) models are recycled. I lost track of how many times I killed the Mohawk guy or the fat lady. Not that it’s always that easy to kill them—guns take on a mind of their own, forcing you to reload them when you really want to switch to the next weapon.

Okay, everything else aside. I really enjoyed playing Road to Fiddler’s Green. It’s a by-the-book FPS, but it was fun, scary, and stable. It’s also short. I completed the game in less than five hours. It’s not that the game is too easy, it’s just too short, well outside the 10-20 hours of play promised by developers in prerelease interviews.

Not extending gameplay, is the silly multiplayer offered by Fiddler’s Green. I picked one of the two available skins and then spent five minutes fighting rednecks with shotguns in a very small auditorium. It’s possible there’s more depth here than I recognized or something more satisfying than the deathmatch, but coming off of F.E.A.R.’s multiplayer this was laughable.

The Bottom Line
I still think that Road to Fiddler’s Green is the best zombie shooter since the “They Hunger” mods for the original Half-Life. Of course I can’t think of any others right now, either. If anything, Fiddler’s Green is an inexpensive stopgap until They Hunger: Lost Souls is released later this year. Until then, enjoy the B-movie goodness.

Windows · by Terrence Bosky (5397) · 2006

100% Zombie Killing FPS Goodness

The Good
Being a big fan of the Living Dead Trilogy i just had to buy this game without reading any reviews and i'm glad i did. The game starts of with your character in his farmhouse in a rural area of America. The guy is just a farmer not a highly trained S.W.A.T. officer or a soldier which helps give the feeling your well over your head. Even from the very beginning of the game you are creeped out by a man standing in your garden and you are given an objective which is "see what the man wants" so off you go expecting a conversation but you then realize he is one of the undead and you have nothing but your fists to protect you. The next objective tells you to "get your rifle from the attic" and once you have it your ready for anything hell can throw at you. There is also a handy way of slowing the zombie by shutting doors behind you which gives you a few moments to get you gun reloaded and ready for when the zombies smash the door down which also adds to its scare factor. Another thing that stays true to the films is the way a zombie can be quickly dispatched by a carefully aimed shot to the head which results in a crimson shower of blood, skull and brains. The various weapons all do there job very well from the head popping revolver to the rapid firing M16 and there are various melee weapons for when you occasionally run out of ammo. The levels are very pleasing to the eye and you never get the feeling of deja vous as each is completely different to the other. There are also no over the top bosses at all in this game which makes it more realistic though there are a few zombies who have learned to weird melee weapons and take a few extra hits but Bubba in day of the dead could fire a gun so it isn't anything out of character.

The Bad
Sometimes it gets annoying when you try to pick up items next to cabinets as you can only interact when it says press use to pick up / open close item / door and you have to position yourself in exactly the right spot which is bad if you've got a zombie coming after you while you doing this. Some zombies can take about 6 head shots from the revolver before they die which makes it seem a bit unrealistic. Even though there are lots of levels you can still finish it in about seven hours.

The Bottom Line
If you're a big fan of zombie movies and/or first person shooters then this game is a must. It will creep you out for the first few levels and make you hope you don't bump into the zombies but as you get into it you'll be enjoying the satisfaction of torching a bunch of undead with your molotov's.

Windows · by festershinetop (9572) · 2005

Trivia

Copy protection

Unlike most commercial games currently available, Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler's Green installs fully on the PC and is playable without a CD-ROM in the drive. The manual even suggests (as a troubleshooting measure) copying the two CD-ROMs to a folder on the desktop and installing from the setup.exe file there, bypassing the disks.

Development

Land of the Dead was originally developed as a singleplayer PC game called Day of the Zombie, which had a four month development cycle and was ready for October 2004 release. Day of the Zombie was shown to Universal Studios around the time the movie Land of the Dead was being filmed in Toronto, Canada (where Groove is headquartered) - this is how the license was secured. The game was ported to Xbox, multiplayer functionality was added and environments were added to tie the game to the movie.

Information also contributed by Terrence Bosky

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by nccs.

Additional contributors: Terrence Bosky, Unicorn Lynx, Klaster_1, Patrick Bregger.

Game added October 30, 2005. Last modified April 29, 2024.