Developer: Sabre Interactive – Publisher: Focus Home Interactive, Mad Dog Games – 1-8 Players (online) – Available now on PC, Playstation 4 & Xbox One (version tested)
It’s been a few years since the so-so Brad Pitt staring zombie movie hit the big screen, and to hear a video game adaptation was in the works was rightly met with cynicism. But then to hear it’s a spiritual successor to the excellent Left 4 Dead series, which was a multiplayer highlight of the previous console generation, well, things are looking up! It’s association with the film is quite minimal. Other than a few locations and the name, as well as the great zombie design, the similarities end. The games’ story is presented in an episodic format across a few cities around the world, including New York, Moscow and Tokyo, usually with a few episodes per city, each with different objectives, but the same goal, survive. Much like Left 4 Dead, you’re in a team of four, taking on a lot of undead, working together to get to the goal. Overall there’s a lot of characters to choose from as opposed to being restricted to just the four. There are four for each city you can play in and there are several classes to choose from, so there are lots of play styles to suit. If you’re more of run and gunner or a marksman, or prefer to make a good old bloody mess, you’re well catered for here.
Again, much like Left 4 Dead, as well as the standard zombies, which when they are in a massive horde can be terrifying as it is, there are a few stronger classes, such as the bull, which is a massive zombie that charges at you and clatters the crap out of you if you get in its way. There’s also the hazmat zombie. These guys, like the boomer from L4D, emit poisonous gas when you take it down so you need to keep our distance. There are lurkers too, which hide in the shadows and pounce on you when you’re not expecting it and start pulverising you. When one of these monsters is attacking you, normally you’re left powerless, leaving it up to the rest of the team to help out. If you don’t stick together it can get very overwhelming and doesn’t help in your mission. The levels tend to be a case of get from one end to the other, mowing down zombies en route, but these are usually inclusive of waves of zombies, in arena type battles where you have to set up defenses, including barb wire, electric fence panels and gun turrets. Depending on how the level is layed out, they can range from fairly easy to very difficult and when those bug like zombies start descending, if you don’t have a plan, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. The zombies, much like the film, will use each other in an attempt to get to you, and there’s some impressive undead pyramids. And there’s nothing more gratuitously entertaining than launching an explosive at them and seeing the bodies pile up.
The game also has a decent amount of competitive multiplayer modes as well as the 4 player co-op campaign. These include the likes of a straight up team deathmatch, king of the hill (secure different zones) and a mode where you must find and retrieve medicine, much like a capture the flag type of thing. These all pit you against teams of other players, but you also have the zombie hordes to deal with as well. You can choose from any of the characters here as it’s not restricted to which part of the world you’re in. As with most multiplayer games these days, you level up and unlock perks. It’s not long before you see your levels going up and up, as the minutes quickly become hours. These are a very good addition to the game, but the main meat here is the co-op campaign as it’s a lot of fun and very satisfying. As a spiritual successor to one of the best zombie games ever made, you couldn’t really ask for much more than this. World War Z is way more impressive than the movie licence has any right to be.