They're coming to get you...
Presentation: 8/10 New City. New Story. New Strategy. These are the bullet points that highlight the most profound features of Undead Labs latest DLC for State of Decay. Lifeline puts you in the boots of a squad of soldiers, Greyhound One, as you set down in the once sprawling city of Danforth in an attempt to rescue the remaining survivors and ultimately fulfill a greater task as it reveals itself, which won't be spoiled here. With State of Decay being my 2013 game of the year, a DLC with a new city, new story, and new strategy has alot to live up to. Luckily, it does, for the most part.
Gameplay: 9/10 While the base game had you sneaking in and out of houses, using your limited resources and stealth to avoid attention, Lifeline promptly says "Bring it on!" in true military fashion. From the start you're provided with a finite amount of guns, ammo, and 3rd party resources (air strikes) that make taking the offensive approach to zed killing much easier than the constant build and maintain focus of the base game. This doesn't mean Lifeline has devolved into an all out zombie beat em' up in the vain of Dead Rising though. Zeds are as dangerous as they've ever been and just because you have better weapons, doesn't mean they are to be trifled with when in greater numbers. They now periodically attack your base which can sway from fun to frustrating pretty quick, if they get past your defenses and start chomping on your survivors. Still, this is a great change up from the more conservative approach State of Decay backs you into taking while still keeping the deadliness and stressfulness of the situation at the forefront. You're never safe for long.
Graphics: 6/10 The inner-city is completely elbow to elbow zeds and while I have yet to see that for myself, lets just say you won't be wanting to venture in there. I only mention this in the graphics section because I doubt the game could handle that kind of experience. State of Decay: Lifeline is true DLC. It's the same graphics were used to which range from beautiful and atmospheric to ugly and bland. The city, characters, and zombies all look the part. There are still frame-rate drops and all around choppiness when too many zeds are on screen or too much stuff in happening and pop-in still runs rampant while driving. The colors are still that bland, sun bleached pallet. I could copy and past a graphics review from last years base game here but that would just be lazy. The graphics do the job and do it better than they could had any other engine been used. CryEngine 3 does wonders on the surface, in motion, not so much.
Sound: 9/10 Largely the same from the base game but that doesn't mean I can devalue it any. All the sound effects are proper and the voice acting is as expected. Nothing award worthy but it fits in where it should and never sounds out of place. At least we don't have to hear the "I got you a pony" line or the "Hey you" every time you come back to base. I have to talk about the soundtrack though. Rarely do you hear a soundtrack this good in downloadable title. The subtlety of everything in the soundtrack just keeps a lingering feeling that danger is never far away and it's only a matter of time before your running for your life again. Some of the lines are recycled but that's really the only thing keeping this from a perfect ten.
Value: 10/10 There are a few things you'll want to take into account here before I go off giving you a number of hours this DLC will take you to complete. First, you'll want to go play the base game after completing this if only to utilize the aptly-named Rucks in Trucks feature coming with the mandatory title update that makes resource collecting heaps easier. Then consider the fact that you'll want to play through Lifeline a few time times. Lots of decisions present themselves to you throughout the story and having an abundance of resources straight out of the gate presents a sandbox you'll defiantly want to experiment with. When all is said and done, in the ballpark of six hours is what you'll be getting out of Lifeline and it's the kind of experience you'll want to revisit now and then.
Overall: 8/10 When you consider the life cycle of an Xbox Live Arcade title, it's pretty impressive that a year after release we are still getting a steady stream of DLC. Few and far between as they may be, with State of Decay, Undead Labs has created one of the best survival/horror games of all time. Lifeline is a natural extension of that. It tells the story of a fully capable, armed to the teeth, squad of solders in contrast to the barely surviving, out of shape band of misfits in the base game. You start out with a clear and present mission and it's all about keeping your wits about you and a bit of strategy to survive. It's a welcome addition to the over-all experience and I highly recommend you pick it up. If you already have the base game, it's well worth the asking price.
This DLC is an easy 8/10.