World War Z Review

Dean Abdou

World War Z has been tainted ever since the blockbuster flop that was the 2013 film starring Brad Pitt, so you can’t help but be a little wary of the new game, which borrows some concepts from the movie itself. Fortunately, this is an instance where you’ll find yourself being pleasantly surprised with what Saber Interactive has developed, and though it’s not perfect, it’s still something that fans of the Left 4 Dead series, in particular, might find quite interesting.

It’s been quite some time since we’ve had a Left 4 Dead title, and although the original devs are back making a new one called ‘Back 4 Blood’, we have a while to wait for that. The good news is that World War Z is essentially a third-person Left 4 Dead game, and as such it shares much in common, like dividing the story into episodes and chapters, putting you into a squads of four survivors, presenting unique class zombies to watch out for, and a story that no one will really care about beyond it being an excuse to simply fight hordes of zombies.


And this being a game based on the World War Z film, Saber has introduced some fun elements taken straight from the Paramount flick, such as piling pyramid hordes of undead that desperately claw their way to higher ground. This is all powered by the developer’s amply-named ‘Swarm Engine’, which manages to conjure some impressive hordes of toothsome, slavering undead.

In World War Z you get the chance to play as several different characters from across the globe with each episode based in a different country and city, from New York, to Jerusalem, Moscow, and Tokyo. There’s a total of four episodes in the base game, each with 2-3 chapters, and that makes up the sum-total of the co-op campaign. These can either be played offline with AI companions or online with human players, ensuring you always have a full band of four fighting for survival.

When jumping into the first episode and chapter you’re presented with a quick rundown of the basic controls and it’s just like any other first-person shooter in terms of its control scheme. As you progress through each chapter you’ll start getting introduced to the game’s more intricate mechanics such as holding down the switch weapon button to use a special heavy weapon, picking up and setting up defences when defending certain areas, and using your characters class special equipment. These latter aspects lend a welcome dose of strategy to World War Z’s wanton zombie blasting.

Traversing through each mission is pretty straightforward, with the map design being very linear and waypoints showing the players exactly where to go. Each episode and chapter has a similar rhythm, which involves walking to an area, equipping yourself with weapons, walking to a point that you’ll need to defend, then meet some character you need to protect, then defend another point against waves of zombies. On paper, it sounds pretty dull, but thankfully each episode and chapter offers new areas and environments to perform all these tasks over again. It’s this environmental variation that shakes things up and makes the somewhat repetitive objectives a little less boring.

After completing a chapter, you’ll earn XP for whichever class you’re playing as, and as you rank up each class you’ll also earn special coins, which can be used to either upgrade your class or customise your weapons. This is another nice little addition, which helps to mix things up in World War Z so it doesn’t feel like just a rinse and repeat job, with each chapter you complete.

Despite it being a lot of fun to fight off swarms of zombies in the Left 4 Dead style, it doesn’t save the story itself from being pretty forgettable. The voice acting is cheesy as cheesy can be with some very questionable accents when jumping from one country to another. It doesn’t bode well that I found myself laughing quite a few times especially with the game going for a very serious tone akin to both the book and film. I’ll reiterate that I did have fun playing through these episodes, but it’s purely on strength of its mechanics rather than the characters or storyline.


Although it’s easy to compare World War Z to Left 4 Dead there’s quite a bit in here to make it a little more distinct. Things such as the class system for each character and weapon customisation adds something a little extra to keep players busy. There are also the various difficulty options if you feel like you need to be challenged a little more: there’s no shortage of content and options to play around with. But even with these extras you can’t help but crave for another Left 4 Dead game, because World War Z, despite being enjoyable, is still a pale imitation of Turtle Rock’s game.

Of course, the campaign is not the only thing in this game, as there’s also a unique online mode, pitting player against player against zombies (PvPvZ). In this mode, you’ll still have the same overall rank, but all of your class progression is entirely separate, so you’ll be starting completely fresh here. You can pretty much do all the exact same things with each class, albeit with a slight twist depending on which online game mode you choose. While it’s interesting that every now and then you have to fight a swarm of zombies while also fighting other players, it isn’t quite as fun as playing the game's campaign.

There’s a fair bit of fun to be had with World War Z and it’s certainly a game that surprised me, given the quality of the movie and the history of dodgy movie tie-in games. But it’s far from perfect. The PvPvZ modes leave a lot to be desired and the main campaign is unintentionally laughable, though mechanically fun in as much as it’s enjoyable to shoot your way through huge hordes of zombies. As such, World War Z is a game worth checking out at least once. Maybe twice.

World War Z

World War Z has its flaws especially with its throwaway PvPvZ mode and repetitive campaign, but it’s genuinely a pretty fun zombie shooter akin to Left 4 Dead. It’s a fun title to just pick up and play with a few pals when you’re bored or have run out of games to play. It’s even enjoyable solo with AI companions. World War Z is worth a go, then, at least until Back 4 Blood makes its debut.

Form widget
65%
Audio
50%

There’s very little to be said for the audio as there’s nothing really special here. The sound design of the guns is satisfying especially when you land some brutal shots that dismember zombies. As for the soundtrack, it’s practically non-existent.

Visuals
70%

There’s so much diversity on offer, as each episode takes you on a tour across different parts of the world. There’s never a dull moment when exploring the environment despite the story being rather pedestrian. There is the odd moment where the visuals take a massive nosedive and look like something from a last-gen title, but these moments are so rare that it doesn’t ruin the overall look of the game.

Playability
70%

If you’ve played Left 4 Dead or even just any FPS title then you’ll find the mechanics and controls of World War Z to be as straightforward as straightforward can be. It’s very easy to jump into and get going, requiring very little in terms of a tutorial.

Delivery
60%

While one of the bigger selling points of World War Z is the online matchmaking with its PvPvZ modes, it’s this aspect that’s the most disappointing. It’s actually the main co-op campaign that will entice players to come back for more. Each chapter and episode can be tackled in a variety of ways with a range of different classes and weapon customisation options. Despite the story itself being completely forgettable but fun, it’s still enormously repetitive.

Achievements
70%

Although there are some very basic achievements, which just require you to finish the missions and the campaign, there are also some fun challenging ones that add an extra level to the overall game. There are also a few achievements that encourage players to rank up further in the game and continue building up each character class, adding more longevity to the game for achievement hunters.

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