There’s a certain charm in zombie co-op games. Left 4 Dead and others have proved this genre is perfect for relaxing and bonding with your pals. Zombie, albeit terrifying, make up for a great comedy relief sometimes. It’s admittedly funny watching one of your friends pinned down by a zombie or being blown up in an incidental poorly launched grenade. How does World War Z stack in the world of co-op zombie shooters? Is it the living dead masterpiece we have all been waiting for? Or, is it merely dead on arrival?
Saber Interactive developed World War Z and provided a code for us to take a look at their zombie horde inspired title. So let’s jump right into the pros and cons of World War Z!
Not an Oscar nominee, but still entertaining
World War Z is a third-person co-op zombie shooter based in the film by the same name. The game takes place on the same universe, though, without Brad Pitt. Bummer, I know. The game focuses on four stories. Each taking place in a different geographical location: New York, Jerusalem, Moscow, and Tokyo. You can play these stories alone or online with a party of three friends or three other players through matchmaking.
The premise of each story is different, and each of the settings varies significantly from one another, in aesthetics at least. You won’t get a dramatic story here. Thus, forget about a plot as elaborate as the one in the movie. Although, have in mind that you don’t go to a fast food restaurant to get a fine dining steak. The same applies here. World War Z is a fun, arcade-y, zombie co-op action shooter, not The Last of Us. The narrative is straightforward, and it’s basically just there to keep the action going.
Towering zombies, a dream come true!
Let’s talk about how awesome those towering zombies are, shall we? Just like in the film, this is the main appeal of World War Z. Those moments never fail to look and feel cinematic and overwhelmingly exciting. All four stories have adrenaline-packed scenes that won’t fail to astonish you and your party of three friends. Specifically, the Tokyo two-part story is a blast to play!
The zombie swarms look and behave identically to its cinematic counterpart. The sheer amount of zombies on screen is intimidating. The problem with this mechanic lies in the fact that once you’ve seen one swarm, you’ve seen them all. Yes, it’s still fun to play through the campaign. But, this is a short campaign, and it gets repetitive somewhat quickly.
There are skill trees and weapon upgrades that do make the game feel varied and entertaining. Still, even with these additions, a lot of grinding is needed to unlock the perks of each of the six classes and weapon upgrades. Zombies add variety but don’t change at all across campaigns. Granted that, there are 4 unique types of special zombies, these will bring back memories from Left 4 Dead for sure. World War Z’s special zombies are: Bull, which is a tank zombie, Screamers, which are loud and call more zombie hordes, Lurkers, which jump and pin you down, Hazmat, which releases a cloud of toxic smog after being shot and finally the regular good ol’ zombie.
Zombified animations and infectious glitches
Graphically speaking, World War Z is neither the best, not the worst. It is a shame that there isn’t any performance mode on the PS4 Pro version, as it is capped at 30 FPS. In spite of that, the game is pretty stable when it comes to performance. Generally, even when the swarm of zombies goes over the hundreds in number, the framerate remains solid with minor dips in effects crowded scenes.
The zombies look good. The environments, albeit simple in textures, are plentiful in details and feel alive. Sadly some animations aren’t that polished, and movements feel stiff and exaggerated. The melee attacks are weirdly animated and feel more like you’re teleporting from one place to another.
Graphical glitches are common, with zombies randomly popping in some areas or vanishing in thin air. There was a scene in which hundreds of zombies were falling from a high place. That particular scene looked incredibly well, but after a few seconds, some of the falling zombies started disappearing for no apparent reason. This and many similar glitches break the immersion and make what would rather be a tense scene, something more of a funny conversation with your party.
During my playthrough I experienced two game breaking bugs during matchmaking, and another one while finishing the last chapter of the Moscow campaign. In the latter, when I restarted the game, the console stated that my save file was corrupted and an older save backup was going to be loaded instead. This glitch caused some progress loss. Also, I didn’t receive the trophy for completing the campaign.
Good value for the price
World War Z starts at $39.99 on the PlayStation Store. At this price, you get 4 co-op stories and PvP. Don’t expect too much on PvP though. It is basically several standard PvP modes such as King of The Hill and Domination. There are even more classes in PvP, with ten in total. Matches are based on 4 vs. 4.
Maps are small, and the main attraction is zombie swarms crossing through some regions of the map during matches. It is fun, but the swarm mechanic, just like in the campaign, tends to lose its brilliance quite fast. Overall, the offering is a varied one with tons of unlockables, especially for the price tag.
Perfect? Definitely not. Fun to play? SURE!
Don’t play World War Z with the mindset of getting Left 4 Dead 3. This is a game with similarities, but with enough content to differentiate from the rest. It is a rather short experience, campaign-wise. Yet, you can have plenty hours of fun with your friends or even with random players online. I had a blast playing through the campaign, even with the technical shortcomings that were rather frustrating. Tokyo, in particular, is a tense, entertaining, and fun playthrough.
Want to check out some more recent releases? We reviewed Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain!