Before you say ‘another zombie game!?’, let’s be honest: people love zombies and always will. There’s just something about those shambling corpses that keep people captivated, terrified, and intrigued; and they make for the perfect cannon-fodder in video games too, so it’s a no-brainer.
Despite the World War Z movie hitting cinemas a good 6 years ago and the original novel releasing all the way back in 2006, we finally get our first taste of a fully-fledged World War Z game. This time however, there’s no Brad Pitt and no introspective look into the human psyche – this is a straight-up zombie-shooter from beginning to end, which isn’t a bad thing whatsoever, as it provides a focused and well-designed experience, despite a few rough edges.
There is a cookie-cutter attempt to flesh out personal stories for each character you play as, but none of them stick, so there’s not much exposition or anything to become invested in. But what World War Z does so well is providing that horde-shooter experience, without feeling monotonous and static. You’re constantly moving, having to complete objectives, and making your way through interesting and diverse levels as you head to your goal. Certain areas of each situation require you and your AI or human survivor-buddies to take on a horde before progressing – whether it be in a shopping mall, train-station or army barracks. These are high-tension moments which borrow mostly from the visuals seen in the film, and also give players the chance to experiment with some special weaponry.
You’ll have a few moments before the incoming horde arrives to ready some turret sentries, electric traps, and barbed-wire defences; while also grabbing some bigger guns or melee weapons to level the playing field (the grenade launcher and automatic shotgun were immediate favourites).
A reassuring thing about these moments (and the game in general) is that World War Z has an adaptive AI, so it’ll wiggle the difficulty to align with how you’re doing, as to make up for the often silly AI partners – making it not only possible, but enjoyable to play through the campaign solo – something many other games in the genre lack. However, if you can get some friends to play with, you’ll really get the best bang for your buck.
So, should you buy it?
There’s no denying a sense of Left 4 Dead-inspired déjà vu when playing through World War Z. A lot of the special enemy types, characters, and world design is clearly inspired by Valve’s co-op shooter, but World War Z has injected enough small nuances and arguably far-better shooting and gameplay mechanics to provide gamers with one of the surprise hits of 2019. And at a lower-than-usual price of just over R700, it’s worth a look.