World War Z (PlayStation 4) Review

By Drew Hurley 03.05.2019

Review for World War Z on PlayStation 4

Adaptations and tie-ins are more popular than ever, and with World War Z being one of the most well-regarded zombie-themed novels, and in a time when the shambling undead were at their peak popularity, it was inevitable it was going to get a movie adaptation. What was strange was that the movie bared little to no relation to the book - merely buying the name and slapping it on an abomination with Brad Pitt. It's even more surprising to see what has happened with the game tie-in. It's been six years since the film… and while the sequel has been stuck in production hell for some time, this game has dug its way up. Is this one closer to the film? Or the book? Or an entirely new animal?

World War Z is a four-player, zombie-slaughtering co-op shooter. That description alone tends to evoke a particular, fairly famous title: Left 4 Dead. A game with a huge fanbase, and it's very evident that some of those fans are the team at Saber Interactive, the team behind this. It's not accidental and it's not denied, as the team has spoken often about the inspiration of Left 4 Dead. They know this is a clone, and being a clone isn't always a bad thing, if it does enough to set itself apart and can keep the quality high.

First off the game is third person, and is completely focused on multiplayer. There's a series of story-based missions to play through in the campaign, but there's no prerequisite to go through them in any order. Nor is there a grand overarching story stuffed with FMVs to experience. Missions to take on, with friends, randoms online, or NPCs, complete and repeat. What is good about said missions is that they span the globe, with New York, Jerusalem, Russia, and Japan each offering up a handful of stages. The first stage of New York is made of generic city streets seen a thousand times before, but the others are absolutely fantastic, truly capturing the locations they're based on, capturing everything, from the fauna, the architecture, even the popular vehicles for that location. The developers have clearly put the effort in here and it shows, making the mission so much better. It would have been better to see some more cultural variations in the zombies though.

Screenshot for World War Z on PlayStation 4

The missions themselves are the standard multiplayer fair: reach a set objective, barricade, overcome a swarm, reach the end of the stage - and yet it's always fun. So much so that, even with the limited levels, it's fun to go back again and again, and replay stages over and over - especially with friends! That's the most important thing here, and it accomplishes exactly what more games should focus on: fun. There are some moments where points need to be defended from ungodly, huge waves of the undead where the team has pour thousands of bullets into the swarm; set up mortars or gun encampments; rush into the fray with a chainsaw. Doing this with friends, laughing all the while, is some of the most multiplayer fun in ages. Not to mention the performance graphs at the end of the stage to flex on your compatriots.

One of the most iconic moments from the film has become one of the main gimmicks of the gameplay. The zombies in World War Z are the fast moving kind, and these creatures sprint and rampage like a wave. When a huge amount of them build up, they clamber atop each other, building up huge towers of corpses, as seen in one of the only enjoyable parts of the film. This is well recreated in the game, if a little overused. In numerous levels barricades or height act as a natural barrier to the rambling Romeros, only for them to swarm in terrifying numbers. Shooting the forming creations to pieces before the overcome the barricade is essential, or at least slowing some of them - often by setting up defensive weapons and whipping out the big guns. These are needed too, as the engine is optimized to allow up to 500 zombies on screen at a time, and the game makes full use of that.

That huge number, combined with the fact that these sprinting zombies are more intimidating than their shambling kin, offer up a challenge which requires fast reflexes - but, they are still easy enough to put down, and a quick couple of shots is all that's needed. In Left 4 Dead, the real danger came from the 'Special Infected.' The game makers continued their inspiration here. There's a Charger, called a 'Bull' here; a huge Riot cop who charges and grapples teammates if he manages to connect; a 'Creeper,' which is 100% a Hunter from Left4Dead, the 'Hazmat' is reminiscent of a Boomer, leaving clouds of gas; and, finally, the 'Screamer' is somewhat like the Witch, without the insane damage output. That screams and summons Hordes that come running.

Screenshot for World War Z on PlayStation 4

Classes and special abilities aren't limited to the enemies, and that's what helps to set this apart from its inspiration. There are six classes to play as, each with levels to gain and skills to unlock. After each match, experience is earned for the class and proficiency with whatever weapons have been used. The Gunslinger gets bonuses to ammo, quicker switching between weapons, or the ability to start matches with better weapons. The Slasher is focused on getting up close and personal with the prettiest zombies in the horde, focusing on big melee damage. The Exterminator is made to take on packs of enemies, focusing on bonuses to the big guns of the game. The Hellraiser is all about the booms, focusing on C4 and grenades. It's not all about the DPS though, as any multiplayer or MMO veteran will tell you!

The support classes on hand are the Medic and the Fixer. The Medic, as the name suggests, is a support role, focused around healing their teammates, and the unlockable perks improve this, such as giving more medpacks or granting passive buffs when using a medpack. The Fixer is another support class. This one focused on keeping allies weapons full, rather than their health. With perks that boost the ammo granting supply bags and making the masking grenades much more formidable. There's enough difference between the characters to make it worth revisiting stages and experimenting to find the best fit, then replaying to death to level up all the perks.

Screenshot for World War Z on PlayStation 4

Note that it's not all about working together. There's competitive online PvP available too. Swarm Domination gives multiple zones to try to capture and hold against an enemy team. King of the Hill is a well-known PVP favourite. Scavenger Raid requires hunting down items hidden away, or collecting them from the corpses of enemies, gaining points for doing so. Vaccine Hunt means capturing an item and holding for a set period of time. Then, of course, there's the age-old multiplayer PvP favourite: Deathmatch. Obviously, it's not just player against player, as there's the threat of horde constantly looming.

So far all sounding good? Sadly, there is a monumental flaw with World War Z: it's almost impossible to play at the moment. Even after a day one 15GB patch, this still has some severe issues in actually running. It regularly freezes, and not just in locking up, then snapping back after a few seconds or minutes. Not even the type of freezing that dumps the player back out to the dashboard. No, this is the worst type of freezing. The type of freezing that locks up the whole PS4. That corrupts a hard-drive. That bricks a console. Hopefully, these issues aren't as prevalent on other platforms. If developers Saber Interactive doesn't get some fixes out sharpish, they'll lose their audience.

Screenshot for World War Z on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

At first glance, there was little promise here. A movie tie-in to a pretty bad movie, so long after it, and clearly taking more than inspiration from another existing popular franchise? Yet, what at first seems like just another shallow Left 4 Dead clone reveals itself to be so much more, it feels more a true successor to its inspiration, definitely one to pick up for groups of friends looking for a new game to enjoy together, even more so for the Left 4 Dead fans out there. If the stability issues can be resolved, this is going to superb and needs to be on more people's radar.

Developer

Saber Interactive

Publisher

Saber Interactive

Genre

Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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