As a lifelong Sony user, I nearly bought an Xbox 360 for one game franchise only, Left 4 Dead. The couch co-op, fun and fast-paced shooter franchise is an undead delight. There have been many games that have been trying to emulate the feeling of LEFT 4 DEAD, EARTHFALL being a prime example, but have failed. While WORLD WAR Z doesn’t reach the bar that LEFT 4 DEAD raised, it is the closest to make a solid attempt to reach for it without pissing off the franchise’s fans.
WORLD WAR Z is developed by Saber Interactive and published by Focus Home Interactive/Mad Dog Games. Focus Home Interactive is pretty hit-or-miss when it comes to their games, so I went into this with zero expectations. When I heard whispers of its similarity to the LEFT 4 DEAD franchise, I was concerned and immediately began to expect that this would be another copycat that’d fail to provide the same fast-paced, barnburner, filled-to-the-brim-with-undead mayhem as that game. Turns out what they say about assumptions is true.
Though WORLD WAR Z does feel like that same experience though with more layers, the game takes away one of the key components that made LEFT 4 DEAD so fun: couch co-op. It’s a HUGE misstep on the part on Saber Interactive, and while the game does offer online multi-player, nothing beats having a partner by your side to yell at in real-time for stealing the last health pack. I’m hoping that maybe one day they’ll have a patch allowing for this, but until then, this fact is definitely one of my biggest disappointments with this game.
Aside from that, WORLD WAR Z is a lot more fun than I was expecting. There are four campaigns to play: New York, Jerusalem, Moscow and Tokyo. Each episode has between 2 and 3 chapters, and you have the option of not only choosing which episode, but also what chapter of an episode. Each has their own set of 4 characters with multiple classes to choose from, making for a more personalized gaming experience.
Image courtesy of Saber Interactive/Focus Home Interactive/Mad Dog Games.
There’s a variety of classes with unique abilities, though my personal favorite of these is the ‘slasher’, starting with a stun gun and compact SMG, its gameplay is focused on a boost in melee attacks that hit two enemies and do double damage when you’re not tired and don’t slow down when you are. Also worth mentioning is the ‘exterminator’, starting you off with a molotov and shotgun. Swarms are this class’ best friend, as there is a damage boost during any large attacks. Each of these classes can be leveled up the more you play them for an even more personalized experience. Not only can you level up the fighting classes, but you can purchase and customize the weapons themselves.
So, now that the experience is personalized, what is the game like? Pretty fast paced! There are cool little secrets and doors hidden throughout the stories that you can breach for better weapons and supplies, so sometimes it’s better to take your time instead of rushing through levels.
The graphics aren’t bad by any means, and I love that you get to play through multiple story lines, though New York is the most basic out of the four. There are extremely eerie moments when you see the massive swarms and hear their cries, and little is better than slicing and dicing your way through these crowds with a warm chainsaw.
Tokyo Chapter. Image courtesy of Saber Interactive/Focus Home Interactive/Mad Dog Games.
Overall, WORLD WAR Z is run-and-gun fun. The zombies are easy to kill, the game offers the ability to fortify and set up traps for the zombies, and I imagine it would be even more fun with friends. It also isn’t overly challenging, though there are difficult moments found within. There are the standard zombie mutations that are very reminiscent of LEFT 4 DEAD, but they’re changed up enough to prevent them from just being blatant rip-offs. If you loved the Xbox and PC exclusive game but didn’t have the heart, will, or ability to buy that console, WORLD WAR Z is a great alternative.
WORLD WAR Z is available now for PS4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows.