World War Z Review: Left 4 Dead Formula is Alive But Shambling
If you've been following the development of World War Z, then you probably noticed, like many other gamers, just how similar the gameplay looked in comparison to Valve's own Left 4 Dead franchise. Its playerbase even coined the term "Left 4 Zed," reflecting the feelings of the community.
Of course, it's not a direct rip-off, but there are many things in the gameplay that just scream L4D. Fortunately, there are plenty of original ideas, too. In case you've played the Valve's zombie shooter sometime over the past several years and miss that same vibe, then World War Z should help you get that fresh but not-so-fresh nostalgia fix.
So let's take a closer look at this new cooperative survival game from Saber Interactive and see if there is more to it than just a fancy title.
Story and Setting
The main campaign in World War Z begins in one of the four global locations: Moscow, New York, Jerusalem, or Tokyo. You must survive the swarms of the undead zombies and complete the mission by moving from one designated point to another.
You carry several types of guns and pick up ammo on your way to the finale. In the process players must fight different kinds of zombies, most of which don't pose a real threat and are easy to kill. But they usually attack in huge numbers, so at times it can get really hard.
Besides your typical swarms you will encounter special zombies that will make your life difficult. Fortunately, you won't have to fight them alone as there are always teammates on your side. Players can help each other by communicating voice messages and exchange information on the locations of healing items, better weapons, and ammo.
By the way, you don't have to worry in case you have no friends to play in co-op mode. The game is ready to provide you with three AI players who will do their best according to the chosen difficulty level.
Probably the best part about these AI companions is that they will respond to damage like actual players asking for help. This will prompt you to look after them, provide them with healing items and such. So it is quite fun either you're playing alone or with real friends.
Roaming through the streets of the four big cities is really exciting, as the locations are quite realistic and the level design is excellent. For example, when playing in a snow-covered Moscow, you may at times feel like you're playing one of the Metro games, which is famous for its realistic depiction of the post-apocyliptic Russia. But other cities look just as cool and all have their own distinct features.
PvE Co-Op Mode
The very first thing that sets apart World War Z from the rest of zombie shooters is the location of the camera. In this case it is fixed behind the character’s back, or simply in a third-person view, which allows you to be more aware of your surroundings.
Before launching a mission, you will need to select the character and its class. The character selection menu offers how your character looks in the game with no customization features. But when it comes to selecting your class, things can get rather complicated.
The cooperative and multiplayer modes have their own separate class selection menus, where each class has its own separate skill tree. The game offers six main classes in co-op.
Players can earn XP points by completing missions, and in this way they can unlock different levels of the given skill trees. Each class has 31 skills in co-op mode, among which 27 are regular and 4 are unique.
At the end of each mission players get both class and weapon XP points. In World War Z each class has its own special abilities that determine their starting weapons. You can then use the weapon experience points to unlock additional attachments in the corresponding menu, and thus improve your basic firearms.
Each player has a primary and secondary weapons, which can be found during the missions. Usually, they are much better weapons than the ones you start with, such as heavy assault rifles, advanced SMGs, and even a chainsaw.
Besides the personal weapons players have the chance to use stationary machine guns, mortars, automatic turrets, etc.
PvEvP Multiplayer Mode
In PvEvP mode or PvPvZ online multiplayer mode two teams of four players fight against both zombies and players.
There are 10 classes in this mode, where each class has 13 skills to level up. Instead of cooperative missions like in PvE mode, here you have access to several different multiplayer modes:
- Scavenge Raid
- Vaccine Hunt
- Swarm Domination
- King of the Hill
- Swarm Deathmatch
In this mode players don't get to choose their weapons, and you simply choose your starter kit, and get to run with it all the way through.
Some players may not like this kind of approach, but it reduces the amount of time you have to put towards on weapons and class customization since the multiplayer modes are a lot shorter.
- Swarms of zombies look impressive
- Levels are very well designed
- Huge pool of weapons and attachments
- Left 4 Dead nostalgia fix
- Missions are repetitive
- Gameplay, although fun, gets boring rather quickly
- Some network bugs and lags
In the end you can expect World War Z to be quite entertaining with all its large-scale glory, good graphics, and abundance of classes. However, the game is rather limited in terms of gameplay variety, and the only really fun to play it is with your friends.
Currently, there are only four available missions and that's just not enough for a full-fledged game. Of course, you could try to complete all the missions at Insane level of difficulty, so that you would have an incentive to improve your class and weapons. But other than that it can get boring rather quickly.
In any case, if you have a bunch of friends who like to play online, then you can have short and fun gaming sessions in World War Z for sure. Just don't expect too much from this zombie shooter, and you will not be disappointed.
[Note: A copy of World War Z was provided by Saber Interactive for the purpose of this review.]