After the fun I had last year doing 2.8 Hours Later, a zombie run through the streets of Cardiff, I was doubly excited this year to find a friend who was willing to go through the experience with me, especially since they put the prices up, which meant a couple of other friends couldn’t come.
The organisers promised that this year it was going to be bigger and better and worth the increased price. My attitude was that I’d had £48 worth of fun last year, so if it was at least as good as that, it would be worth it, especially since if you add up how much you can spend on a normal night out, it’s not that expensive.
So was it worth the price hike?
I’m still undecided. It appeared that most of the funds went into the location and we were right in the heart of Cardiff. On the one hand, this means that I have the privilege of being able to say that I ran away from zombies through the Millennium Stadium. On the other, being surrounded by ‘normals’ took you out of the game while you were moving through locations. Last year, being in a more industrial area meant that we saw hardly anyone who wasn’t a fellow player, which meant that it was easier to kid yourself you were really in the zombpocalypse.
Not wanting to spoil anything for anyone reading who might be playing later this year, I’ll just give you my highlights. You were thrown into the heart of the action right at the beginning with zombies coming at you from all sides.
I got bitten.
Not even five minutes into the game and I was infected. There was a guy there who told me not to assume that I was infected and having played last year, I could see them setting it up so that the first lot of zombies had fake pens, but having been caught so early really put a dampener on the rest of the night. Yes, I was playing for the experience, and no, I didn’t really expect to survive the night given my level of fitness, but it was depressing being tagged so soon.
It was interesting comparing my team this year to last year. Last time, I’d gone on my own, which meant that I spoke to most people on my team during the course of the night. This year, we were with a group of four and a couple, so everyone naturally gravitated towards who they knew. I did chat a bit to one of the four, but for the most part, I just hung around with my friend. Which is not a bad thing because she’s pretty darned cool.
Despite this, we were a reasonably coherent team. However, our plan of having our fast runners act as distraction went out of the window pretty early on, which led to one of my favourite parts of the night.
You had to get codes at each location to send you to the next location from terminals. One terminal was in the middle of a group of zombies. Since I was infected, I volunteered to go get the code, but since there was a chance I wasn’t infected, I didn’t want to just throw myself into the jaws of a zombie. So I was going to have support from my distractors so I could get the code.
We all started running, only everyone just ran, leaving me on my own in the middle of zombies!
Hello? Guys? Distraction anyone?
There was a zombie right next to the terminal and I knew that if I ran, I’d get caught, so I stood still. Very still. I was this close to a zombie, so close that she sniffed my arm!
However, whether it was that she could smell infection or she preferred the thrill of the chase, she didn’t actually tag me, so I was the hero of the hour.
Another great moment was in a building where you had to go through a small, dark room, barely more than a corridor, to get to a terminal. The biggest lad on our team was going to go first, but he opened the door and saw zombies, so didn’t move.
And didn’t move.
And didn’t move.
Eventually, I got so fed up with waiting, I pushed past him and ran through without being tagged!
He was such a wuss!
I have to say that I was really surprised to encounter Alex, the big bad zombie that everyone’s afraid of because he’s just so fast, right in the middle. I actually managed to elude him this time around, so in many ways I feel like I won just for beating him. (Although that’s partly because he didn’t target me.) This year, the best tactic seemed to be to go first rather than stay in the middle of the pack, which made for a different dynamic.
Much as those bits were fun, there were some downers. One was that the overall storyline didn’t seem as coherent this time around, to the point that it was almost superfluous. You were on a mission to recover a potential cure for the zombie virus and at one point, you were asked if you’d give it to a guy to trade. There was no real incentive to do so. Basically, you could give it to him and he’d sell it to make money for himself, or you took it through to the end. It would have been so much more interesting if there’d been an actual ethical dilemma here.
Also, the security guards varied in how much they bought into the game. OK, they were an external company, but some of them helped add to the atmosphere while doing their jobs, whereas there was one guy who didn’t actually brief us at all before letting us go into the zombie zone.
There were noticeably fewer people this year, which meant fewer bottlenecks and less waiting, which was good, but sometimes we were put through with one or two other teams and I didn’t always get to hear the briefing as a consequence.
And in all honesty, the end of the game was a bit of an anti-climax. I know they want to mix it up every year, but it really felt like a let down to have so few zombies at the end. Which also made it doubly annoying that I was caught, although according to my friend, who was bringing up the rear, having already been tagged twice, a lot of our team were caught but didn’t stop, so I guess I got penalised for being honest, which really isn’t the organisers’ fault. I got chatting to some of the zombies at the end and they all said they’d tagged people who hadn’t stopped and I heard one guy at the end say that he didn’t realise you were supposed to. How did you think you were infected, dummy?? There wasn’t really much of an excuse, given that the information was on the back of the map, in the email they sent and was included in the briefing. (Although they could have really rammed that point home, just for the stupids.)
So yes, I became a zombie again. If I didn’t already know that I’ll be zombie bait come the end of the world, it was a pretty stark reminder. By that point, I was tired and fed up and doubly grumpy when I had to go through no fewer than four people to find someone to retrieve my bag from the cloakroom facilities. And THEN had to wait for that person to serve someone else a drink, just because.
Last year, I was buzzing when I went home. I didn’t care that I’d been caught. I’d just had a great time. This year, not so much. Maybe I’m just getting too old for this kind of thing. I don’t even want to think about how much older I was than the youngest member of our team.
So right now, the jury’s out as to whether I’ll go back again next year. Certainly, if they put the price up again, I definitely won’t.