REVIEW – Well after Black Summer being a disappointing TV series I decided to see how one of my favourite book’s movie’s videogame adaptation turned out – World War Z. The original book is written by Max Brooks about how humanity collapses and recovers after a zombie apocalypse. It shows different nations, perspectives, and provides deep thoughts about a world that is hostile due to all the undead. World War Z the movie dropped all of that thought-provoking and made the zombies a CGI Horde, plus Brad Pitt and Doctor Who was in it. The video game is based on that movie, and it is a CO-OP shooter (Without loots finally!).
The game is a rather big surprise as the IP is pretty much dead with the sequel being shelved, and many thought the game is a simple cash grab with barely any fun attached to it. Especially so close to being to Days Gone release. In a weird twist of fate though, World War Z: The Game is actually….fun?
Left for dead around the world
There is no central story campaign for World War Z, but instead, the campaign is divided into four episodes with each episode having a different cast of survivors with different objectives to complete. All four episodes are separate from each other, so there is no overarching storyline or cameos of characters from other episodes. Episode 1 takes place in New York, and four survivors try to escape New York City while battling hordes. Episode 2 takes place in Jerusalem as you try to save a scientist who might be able to activate a weapon to stop the hordes. Episode 3 is in snowy Moscow, and a couple of refugees are trying to make Moscow safe. Finally, Episode 4 takes us to the land of the rising sun aka Japan.
The player has two choices when playing the CO-OP either online or offline, but even online AI can take over disconnected player’s places. The AI is competent, and will always follow you around, heal, and resurrect if needed. They are pretty handy if you do not want to deal with real people. The one issue with the AI is that you cannot order them around, or setup strategic choke points around the map, or even order the AI squad to defend an objective while you are getting a crucial story item. Within these two choices, there are five difficulty settings and each with varying degrees of difficulty: Easy, Normal, Hard, Very Hard, Insane. While for a horde game this would mean more zombies, but in reality, it just means fewer supplies, and medkits placed all over the maps. Even on Easy though if you are not careful you could be swarmed by the Hordes of zombies.
The zombies are just like in the movie, and will run up to the walls, climb on top of each other to reach the players. There are also four special zombie types that can appear on the map: Lurkers ( will pounce on you and the player has to be saved), Gasbags (when shot they let out lethal gas), Bull (Giant Zombie in Body armor that tackles you like an NFL player, and finally Screamer (Zombie that lures even more zombies). The only challenging zombie to deal with is the Bull, as most of the other ones can be dealt with quickly and do not put up much of a fight.
The Hordes that appear every now and then will put up a lot of fight depending on the difficulty, but luckily you do not need to get headshots to survive this apocalypse. While there is not much of an epic story in World War Z, the gameplay, and the COOP part makes up for that deficiency.
Guns, explosions and no microtransactions
World War Z has a currency system in place, which allows the player after gaining some of that (even if you lose), to spend it on unlocking items or skills. I was expecting booster packs, loot boxes, currency boxes, but the developer and the publisher did not pull such a move for this game. Instead, because the game is so short (depending on the difficulty of course), you need to rerun most maps, to get currency. The higher the difficulty the more currency you get at the end of a match.
There are two things you can unlock and will level up at the same time: The gun you used to kill zombies, and your character level. A total of nineteen guns are in the game, but those guns have an upgrade path of sometimes around six or seven, and some even mix up the stats a bit. The character also gains levels, and there are six different class types that a player can unlock skills for: Gunslinger, Hellraiser, Medic, FIxer, Slasher, Exterminator. Each skill tree has thirty levels, so the game offers a lot in terms of unlockables. The only thing that the game does not offer is cosmetics, or character customization in terms of looks, but in total there are sixteen characters to play as during the overall campaign. So that in a way makes up for the lack of skin customization.
The gameplay itself is similar to a Left 4 Dead game but in third person mode. A team of four players have to complete a set number of objectives before moving onto the next part of the level. There is minimal story shown during the levels, and the banter between characters is also barely there, but it is at least well acted. Most of the objectives are usual to survive a horde, collect something, or unlock a door for the objective to progress. There is also a silence mechanic tied to the AI director, so in some cases, if the players use silenced weapons, and do not make too much noise, can avoid the horde being summoned in certain sections of maps. Speaking of AI director while the composition of the enemy Horde and special zombies can change, the objectives throughout the different maps stay the same, so if you think to play on higher difficulty changes up the story, sadly it does not.
The gameplay is solid, and while it reminds me of the old Left 4 Dead games, the developers, and the publisher just does not use the game’s skill tree to get the players to spend more money to progress. You actually need to win to unlock things… well, sort of.
This ain’t Brad Pitt
So while the gameplay is a good foundation for the game, and even some of the story elements shown are varied and interesting, World War Z does start to show its „Low” Budget nature when playing the game. The graphics while not being horrible, are nothing to write home about, they just do a serviceable job in presenting the environments, the enemies, and the players. The environments are a bit bland, and washed out in some places, while long-distance textures can remind you of the old 360 and PS3 era. The animation is good, and while it is sweet to see the zombies recreate the famous pile-up scenes from the movie, they lack polish in the end. At least the different locations have different skins for the zombies, at least the normal horde ones, cause the special ones all look the same even on all four corners of the Earth. At least there is a bit of dismemberment when shooting zombies all around, and blood going everywhere so at least that is not toned down.
While the menu music is great, and the gameplay has stellar fun pulse-pounding music, for some reason the entire arsenal sound design, and explosions designs are just disappointing. It lacks proper depth and makes all those shotgun blasts, or LMG shots impactless. Same goes for any kind of explosions, it just ruins an otherwise epic battle. Also speaking of battles, you also get to place defensive weapons in certain defend an objective situation, but again the AI does not use these weapons, so if you get the luck of draw of not getting automated turrets, the AI will not man the manual turrets to fight off zombies.
The multiplayer mode is a bit weird cause while you get to choose a class in the CO-OP mode, in multiplayer you get a certain list of class modes which are separate and have to be levelled up all over again. There are several multiplayer modes, and all of them have hordes mixed in and range from simple team deathmatch to King of The Hill. It is fun, but CO-OP is where the game truly shines. Even though sadly there is no local split screen CO-OP which would have done wonders for this game – a missed opportunity.
It’s just a flesh wound
World War Z: The Game is a fine game, not bad, not superb, but due to its budget nature, and pricing it is probably one of the easiest pickup and play games for a while. If you got some friends and want to kill some time, enjoy, kick back, relax and slaughter some zombies. If you are looking for an epic story, with drama similar to The Last of Us, you are at the wrong place.
+ Swarms of zombies
+ Lots of classes, and skills
+ Great gore, and dismemberment
– Story is non-existent
– Audio lacks the punch
– Multiplayer could be better
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Sabre Interactive
Genre: Third-Person Shooter
Release date: April 16, 2019