22nd Apr2019

‘World War Z’ Review (PS4)

by Phil Wheat

world-war-z-ps4

Based on the book and movie of the same name, World War Z is a modern-gen zombie shooter that reminded me very much of the fantastic Left 4 Dead franchise – in the best way possible of course! Insomuch as this is easily the most fun I’ve had with a AAA title in years… Let me explain.

Since the PS4/Xbox One era arrived I’ve almost exclusively avoided AAA titles, spending most of my time playing indie games or Western releases of weird Japanese games. Though most, if not all of my time, is spent playing shmups and fighting games, with the odd racer thrown in for good measure… And I’ve been happy with that, even moreso with playing those kinds of games on the Nintendo Switch. I’ve never felt the need, or the desire for that matter, to play games like Call of Duty, Red Dead Redemption 2, or any of the Assassin’s Creed titles. But there was something about World War Z that I was drawn to – and even only after playing the game for a few hours I know why. It’s brilliant. It’s as simple as that.

After all, what’s not to love about killing swarms of zombies whilst trying to stay alive? It’s what I love about films like Romero’s Living Dead series, and it’s what I loved about Left 4 Dead and its sequel. Though its NOT what I loved about Killing Floor 2, which took zombie swarms to ridiculous levels! What makes this game, I think, more fun – and more playable – than similar shooters is the CPU characters. Those characters actually take part, actually play a role, in taking on swarm after swarm of zombies; so much so that you can concentrate on the objectives at times and leave them to the zombie-slaying.

Graphically, World War Z look amazing. It’s not until you see hordes of zombies coming at you down a street, or up the side of a building… because yes, that stunning “zombie pyramid” scene from the movie is recreated here – numerous time in fact, that you realise just how well the zombies swarms (for they are swarms) are rendered. OK, so there’s some dodgy ragdoll physics a you blast them away, especially when they’re piled up in the aforementioned pyramids or when you use frag grenades, but thats a small quirk in an otherwise beautifully [horrible] looking game. Yes, I did say beautiful but this game is anything but. It’s dark, grimy, dirty and filled with blood – everything you’d ever want in a zombie game really!

And the audio, oh the audio. The subtle breathing of the creeper zombie that freaks you out as you walk the corridors and you can’t figure out where he is. The thud of the bull zombie (a huge zombie in riot gear) as he starts his charge, the screams of a 1000 zombies as they swarm upon you. It’s a cacophony of terrifying sounds that really adds to the atmosphere of World War Z – creeping out the player, puting you on edge as much as the characters in the game would be themselves.

What is slightly annoying is that once you finish a level/chapter in offline “co-op” mode the game (i.e. you and three CPU controlled characters) insists on putting you in a lobby to join an online co-op mode – you don’t just continue on to the next chapter and/or episode. And that’s undoubtedly because, in mush the same way Left 4 Dead worked, World War Z is built for the online multiplayer experience. You’re supposed to play with others and the offline co-op (because they still class offline as co-op play, with bots/CPU characters as your compatriots) is pretty much a bonus. Which is one thing I hate about todays AAA mentality – everything has to be online, you must build games that work with networked multiplayer. You’d don’t have to. Some of the best games I have ever played have been great single player experiences with multiplayer on top, NOT the other way round.

That’s not to say that the World War Z single player/offline game is sub-standard, it’s not. It is just like the online experience but without the hassle of showboating from other, more experienced, players! And of course, with CPU-controlled characters you’re actually more likely to finish every chapter – well, at least from the brief experience I had with multiplayer!

Speaking of finishing chapters, World War Z can be a REALLY difficult game if you want it to be. Crank up the difficulty and this game is a killer. Even on the easier levels the game can be a bit of a b*stard – this is all down to the sheer amount of zombies in the game and – at times at least – on the choices you make in the games more zombie-heavy moments. For there are parts of World War Z where you end up standing your ground and defending your position and the game gives you a little “help”. You can plant gun emplacements, rig electrical fences to fry zombies, even lay barbed wire death traps and it’s what you place and where you place them that can determine how easy it is to clear the hordes. IT can be a bit trial and error at times but trial and error never hurt anyone did it? Well… it actually might do here :)

With levels set aross the globe, in places like New York, Jerusalem, Moscow and Tokyo, there’s plenty of variety to the World War Z. Couple that with the ability to play offline and online and there’s plenty of game for your money – especially when you consider this is lower-priced than its AA brethren at only £34.99 RRP.

**** 4/5

World War Z is available now on PS4 and Xbox One.

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