Outbreak: Undead is one of the best RPG experiences that I have EVER had. I review zombie games on www.BoardGameGeek.com and this game has been dominating my play list pretty much since I got it. When I review games on BGG, I look at their originality, rules, components/quality/layout, theme, coolness. This game almost scores full marks.
What I Like:
The game is an original take on the zombie RPG, because it is really not just an RPG, but closer to a zombocalypse simulator.
The rules are hard-core, no excuses, this-is-how-post - apocalypse-life-is-so-deal-with-it feeling. This is not a game for wimps, especially if you use the online character generator to create yourself as a character. Your character will probably die.
The free online content available for this game is INCREDIBLE. Get the game, join the forums and look for the Free Content Friday stuff. You will have to join and participate in the forums to get it, but WOW!
I love the character generation system. I will admit that there is a learning curve to the process, but remember all things of true value require work on your part.
The different Outbreak levels and the way that they change the encounters and the scenario/campaign as you move from one to the next really add a level of realism.
The rules for equipment (and its degeneration), the rules for formations and the rules for panic are all excellent.
ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING about the zombies, the different types, the ways they can pass infection, everything is very well presented such that you could customize the game to nearly anything. This is proven by the April 1st 2011 Free Content available here on RPGNow.
The chapter on combat, including open wounds, wound types, grappling with the undead, etc. is all very clear and realistic.
Again, ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING in the game masters section is really cool: Encounters, stronghold rules, missions, viral tables, everything.
What I DON'T Like:
Some of the character generation rules are arbitrary and don't make much sense -- for example: according to the rules characters over 200 lbs can't have the skill Agility. My stepson is 6' 5" tall. He practices parkour in real life. He is unhealthy and anorexic-looking at 200 lbs. His normal athletic weight is 220 lbs. Believe me when I say He DEFINES Agile. Additionally, by these rules, 2x Super Bowl champion Tight End Todd Christensen is also not agile in his prime at 6'3" and 230 lbs., he is just one among others that I could name.
Between 10 years of past autocross and car tuning experience and my wife working for an engineering firm that reports on auto accidents, I know a LOT about vehicles. The chapter on vehicles is NOT realistic, but in fairness, reality and vehicles would make for a truly complex set of rules that would NOT lend themselves to being 1 chapter in an RPG where functioning vehicles are scarce anyway.
TABLES - TABLES - TABLES Where are they? This is a system nearly as complicated as 1st Edition AD&D and there are only a handful of tables in the book. Wow, could it really use some more!
The layout of the book is something some people will like and others will not. I like the idea of it being like a survivor's notebook. That part is cool. What I do NOT like is the small print in the "handwriting" font -- I get it thematically, but I could sacrifice that realism to be able to more easily read the text. I'm glad I don't need glasses, 'cause this book must be HELL for people who do.
Overall this game rates 4 stars out of 5. What it really comes down to is this:
Is it PERFECT? NO. Nothing is.
Is it better than anything else I have seen for this genre? YES.
That comes from someone who has played and reviewed almost 100 different zombie games and has over 25 years of RPG experience. It is a deal at 2X the price. Buy it now.