If there’s something that’s likely to never go out of fashion, it’s zombies. The zombie genre is as undying as the shambling corpses within.
In games, we’ve had Telltale Games’ final season of The Walking Dead and State of Decay 2 in the past year with The Last of Us 2 and Days Gone on the way. It feels like the zombie genre is a bit crowded right now, although it always has been to some extent.
Maybe a little bit exhausted and I haven’t even mentioned Resident Evil.
The main thing those titles share is a strong cinematic experience, focusing on a single player campaign that will challenge your morality and mortality, survival skills and logic as well as your aim.
World War Z Review
World War Z shares more with Left 4 Dead and Payday 2 than any of the previously mentioned titles. It’s a game that focuses on four-player co-op zombie horde blasting. Players grind experience points and increase the difficulty to challenge themselves and reap greater rewards.
Once you know the levels back to front, you can fly through it with ease, level up and customise your guns, tailor your skills and dig in as the dead hordes swarm over you.
The co-op campaign portion of the game starts with a scene familiar to anyone who has seen the World War Z movie.
Or played Left 4 Dead.
Or Left 4 Dead 2.
The camera pans across a city — in this instance New York — overrun with the dead, burning cars and roller shutters collapsing in on broken shopfronts. Unfortunately, Brad Pitt is nowhere to be found so you’ll have to band together and fend for yourselves.
The Big Rotten Apple
The scenery is rather well designed and ‘feels’ like New York but is missing obvious landmarks and details we see in other games. Such as The Division. That being said, the maps flow well and are functional. There are very few dead ends or wrong ways to go and the emphasis is on speed.
Keep moving towards your objective, run and gun, because if you stop you’ll get bogged down and run out of ammo.
The characters you play as are simply alternate skins based on location appropriate survivors. These survivors’ stories are contained within each chapter. I’m sorry to say that Angel Flores, the Hispanic gangster available to play in Chapter One set in New York won’t be jet setting the world.
As chapters two, three and four take us to Jerusalem, Moscow and Tokyo, players will play as survivors from those regions as they fight for survival during the outbreak. I’m not a huge fan of downloadable content unless it really adds something to the game but I can see a lot of potential with World War Z DLC.
By adding new chapters and characters on a regular basis World War Z would stay fun for a long time.
Knee Deep in the Dead
I’ve mentioned swarms of enemies but when I say swarms I REALLY mean swarms.
If you’ve seen the World War Z movie you’ll remember that iconic moment the zombies throw themselves at the walls of Jerusalem. Eventually, the mountains of dead give the rest of the zombies access to the city, as they gnash at their prey with reckless abandon.
But you won’t be taking them on with your bare hands. You have a huge arsenal is at your disposal.
God Bless America!
When you begin you choose your favourite weapon. These include marksman and assault rifles, sub-machine guns and shotguns. There’s also a big emphasis on traps as you can set up automated sentry turrets, deploy mounted LMGs and hurl grenades to defend yourselves.
In World War Z you damn well better give no quarter, because you can expect none. The enemy is coming to eat your flesh and plans on walking away with a full belly.
When there’s no more room in Hell…
Fans of Left 4 Dead or Vermintide will be familiar with specialist enemies. World War Z is no exception.
The hulking Bulls take the form of risen riot cops, complete with full tactical armour. They barrel towards your group and pulverise the first unfortunate survivor they connect with.
Gasbags stagger towards the players, their bright yellow hazard suits ripped and torn. Exploding in a cloud of poisonous green gas from any hits that aren’t headshots before finally collapsing in a huge cloud of death.
Screamers call more zombies to your position, like a beacon the dead flock to. Taking them out quickly is the only way to ensure you aren’t overrun.
Those are the only special zombies I’ve encountered so far, but I’m sure there will be more. World War Z features an evolving AI that adapts to how you play and you’ll need to keep your wits about you if you’re going to make it out alive.
But is it good?
At the time of writing, I have only played solo offline, with the remaining survivors controlled by bots. We didn’t receive our review code until 12-hours ahead of the review embargo, so we’ve not had time to give everything a go yet.
The gameplay is fun but grindy and repetitive and whilst I’m not disappointed in World War Z, I feel like it has slightly missed its launch window.
World War Z is the kind of game that needs a dedicated squad to play with. Each of you fleshes out your roles within the team and take on the higher difficulties or trophies together. Outside of that, I don’t see it living a particularly long life, not with such hotly anticipated multiplayer shooters like Borderlands 3 on the way.
And as a game that takes itself very seriously, World War Z is lacking that element that made Left 4 Dead such a phenomenon. That being said, it’s a fun fast-paced shooter that delivers what it promises. Zombie blasting action.
I’m keen to play co-op with my friends and play some of the multiplayer modes.
Watch this space for updates on my World War Z online experience.
World War Z is being reviewed on PS4 using a digital code provided by the publisher.