As I sat down to start my review of Saber Interactive’s World War Z I had this feeling that I needed to do something else before I started writing. And that thing was to re-watch the 2013 movie of the same name starring Brad Pitt. From memory a good movie, and a second viewing confirmed this. So as you would expect, the game is based on the 2013 movie which is based on the 2006 book by Max Brooks. But I’ll add a word to that last sentence, LOOSELY, as the movie is loosely based on the book, the game is loosely based on both source materials, very loosely based.
Now the biggest thing that makes World War Z stand out in the crowded herd of zombie books, movies, and games is pretty obvious for anyone who has seen the movie is the speed and swarm-like behaviour of the zombies. Whether it is stacking up against barriers to use combined weight to bring it down or making a massive pile of zombies to scale over walls, the World War Z zeds are fast, big in numbers, and have an incredibly dangerous herd mentality. How will this convert the game environment? Well for me it is the one thing that saves the game from disappearing into the pile of slain zombie games.
The game format itself is pretty basic with about a dozen or so survivor based story missions which can be tackled with either three AI team mates or three actual real mates. Now it is fun by yourself but be warned, the AI is as bad as I have encountered in any game. From blowing your cover when being stealthy to just deciding to do their own thing in another area when you are trying to move to a new zone. And to compound these pains, there is friendly fire to worry about, and in this case it more often than not is the inept AI just moving right into your line of fire.
The multiplayer adds a slew of game modes and maps for you sink your teeth into. All will be familiar to any online shooter fan and your mileage will depend on your level of love for this type of repetitive online romp. Might just be my ageing reactions, but I prefer my games played at my pace, not at the pace of a handful of twitchy young whippersnappers. But online is fun, and different enough to warrant some time to at least check it out.
Visually I had no problem with World War Z especially considering the sheer number of zombies coming at you most of the time, you may expect some slowdown but I can’t say I encountered any. The swarm physics look fantastic and several times I found myself letting zombie piles get too big just to watch zombies tumble when I took out the base of the pile, admittedly I actually got over run more than once because of this. The story based missions are set in New York, Jerusalem, Moscow, and Tokyo giving you a distinct variation in scenery as you move through the mission.
One problem I have with the game is the inability to jump and dodge. It just feels weird not being able to jump over items on the ground or dodge away from the incoming horde. I guess it is an easy way to keep players where you want them. Other than that, the controls and gameplay are as one would expect.
The zombies only come in four flavours so there isn’t much variety in that sense but with the swarm mentality in place you could say that sheer numbers take the place of any boss battle you may be missing. There are tools, both defensive and offensive, to aid you on your missions and all characters level up skills and weapons so there is plenty of angles you can take on each level from. And reward points carry over between multiplayer and story so you can smash out some multiplayer to make upgrades in story mode.
So I have to say that I am not a big fan of co-op multiplayer centric games like World War Z but for what it is I had plenty of fun, the swarm physics of the zombies brought just enough difference to the table to keep me entertained. Everything else has been done before. But with its cheaper price point and swarming zombies World War Z is a blast. And if you do a lot of online gaming with friends then you will no doubt get far more out of it than I did. It is fun though, just the massive number of zombies you have to take care of makes it fun. So check out World War Z or be left 4 dead…