- Game: World War Z
- Consoles: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, PC
- Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
- Developer: Saber Interactive
A World War Z review code was provided by the publisher.
It’s pretty crazy to think that a licensed video game would release six years after the source material’s mainstream dominance. World War Z fever was high back in 2013 as the novel gained new fans upon the arrival of the feature-length film adaptation. Another crazy (and equally depressing) thought that should come to mind is the lack of a third entry in Valve’s sorely missed Left 4 Dead series. Digital zombie apocalypse survivors have lamented the absence of Valve’s co-op classic ever since the current-gen rolled around. Saber Interactive has chosen to fill the hole left open by Left 4 Dead’s disappearing act by crafting a 3rd-person shooter all about the horrors of World War Z.
World War Z features a bevy of elements that should endear itself to Left 4 Dead fans – 4-player co-op, an armory full of firearms and melee weapons, several different characters and classes to master, and a whole lot of zombies. The zombies are the most insane part of this intense shooter – anyone who’s seen the film will get a kick out of witnessing hundreds of rabid walkers (well, runners actually) frantically climb up walls and flood the city streets your party inhabits. This experience never grows old – the adaptive AI does a good job of producing this jaw-dropping moment during the most opportune gameplay segments. World War Z keeps adrenaline levels high thanks to varying difficulty levels and the type of stage objectives that encourage you to work efficiently against the undead.
The game’s mission structure is spread out across four global locales – each location tasks you with completing three separate stages. Each locale is backed by a simple plotline that’s easy to follow. The characters that you get to choose from are also given stories of their own, but they don’t really mean much of anything in the long run. What matters most is the game’s offering of varied environments you’ll get to explore – running around the snowy expanse of Moscow or wading around during the evening hours of Jerusalem keep World War Z from becoming too stagnant.
The missions themselves cover familiar ground – you’ll need to make your way to different points of the map, hit all sorts of buttons, hold down an area from the incoming zombie horde, etc. While these tasks don’t do a whole lot to differentiate itself from the game it’s obviously inspired by, they still manage to be a good time thanks to the rabid sea of zombies that look to impede your progress. The escort missions happen to be the only blemish on the game’s mission selection. Backing up an extra AI-controlled survivor is expectedly less entertaining than hauling ass from a swarm of zombies as you make your way towards an escape helicopter. There’s an immediate joy that this game regularly delivers thanks to its simple approach to gameplay – gun down some zombies, complete each mission in a quick and efficient manner, and try not to freak out when 500 zombies start closing in on your location.
World War Z’s weapons locker features your usual gamut of automatic weapons, shotguns, pistols, melee weapons, and more. The introduction of special heavy weapons ratchets up the fun factor, too – whipping out a rocket launcher and firing it into a crowd of zombies always feels gratifying. As you utilize each weapon and complete the game’s many missions, you’ll earn experience points and gain the ability to upgrade your many characters and weapons. While not incredibly complex, the game’s leveling system provides some extra replay value for those who want to max out their preferred firearms and character classes. The competitive multiplayer modes also add an extra bit of fun to the game’s overall proceedings. Genre standby modes such as team deathmatch and capture the flag get even crazier thanks to the inclusion of random zombie hordes. Their disruption is a definite plus in that regard.
World War Z is surprisingly good in several areas, but it still manages to disappoint in others. The game itself doesn’t look that great by today’s graphical standards – it honestly wouldn’t look out of place on last-gen consoles. The game’s framerate gets a bit choppy when the action becomes a bit too chaotic at times. And the co-op campaign’s short run time makes it clear that this game needed a lot more content to truly feel exceptional. Some participants may quickly reach a point where they’ve exhausted their repeated playthrough of a location and grow tired of the game as a whole. Here’s hoping that Saber Interactive has future DLC locations, characters, and missions in the works. World War Z could certainly use more content if it hopes to keep its player base’s attention.
World War Z Takeaways
For anyone looking to experience something comparable to Left 4 Dead, you’ll find what you’re looking for in World War Z. While it sticks a bit too close to the successful formula from Valve’s zombie shooter, it differentiates itself by featuring the amazing Swarm Engine. Holding off hundreds of zombies during each mission is a harrowing, yet incredibly fun experience. The thrills that are delivered here provide bouts of quick fun in both the co-op and competitive multiplayer modes. While the full experience feels a bit half-baked in some areas, World War Z still offers a worthwhile zombie survival romp worth hopping into.