World War Z (2019 Game) Review
Final Score: 8.5 / 10 (Reviewed on Xbox One X)
World War Z is a game that by usual expectations should not exist, let alone be any good. There are several red flags that usually signal that a game will be a poor experience, and they all exist here. First off, this is a movie license game. The only thing in the universe that is typically as bad as video games based on movies… are movies based on video games. For one reason or another…these two mediums and the talented people who make them seem to be mutually exclusive. Think of all the awful cash grab video games like Thor or Green Lantern, or the awful “racing” games that try to build off the Fast and Furious films; these games usually are the worst of the worst. Another notorious tell of these bad games are they often just reuse the movie poster art for the game art. World War Z wasn’t even that successful or good of a movie to begin with, compared to awful games based of far more successful and better films. Honestly I’m not even sure how this game was approved because making a video game off of a recent movie is not just a bad idea, but this is a 6 year old forgotten action movie, not something relevant to even capitalize on. The second red flag is the developer does not have to most impressive resume. Short of helping with some of the remasters in the Halo series, Saber Interactive doesn’t have any stand out hits, in fact these guys are the master minds behind the god awful Shaq Fu sequel that is seriously one of the worst games I’ve played in recent memory. Top all this off this game launched with that negative perceptual sub-60$ price point, the 30-50 launch limbo where B games go to die, knowing they are not worth your money. On top of all these red flags…sits the fact that this game is in my least favorite, most hated, most oversaturated, most I do not give a crap about genre: the zombie genre. Some of you know my negative opinion on zombie games. I’m just tired of them. For years this genre seamed to churn out a dime a dozen of these half baked boring buggy zombie games, they all looked the same, and all just had bland lazy bad gameplay. Recently games like State of Decay 2, or the fiasco that was the console cancelled failure that was Overkill's Walking Dead, just disappointed me into never wanting to play the genre again.
So here came a 6 year old movie license game, made by an unlikely developer, selling me a zombie game for the well known sub-60 limbo price. If there was ever a reason to doubt this game, or to know before playing that it was going to suck…I had all of them.
But something amazing happened. I saw the trailers…and I was actually excited. I actually wanted to play this game I had every preconception to doubt. Of course trailers in the gaming industry are like Politician promises and even viewing the trailer with Post-Anthem eyes I was still somehow excited for WWZ.
(Seriously... watch the trailer) I finally played the game and what happened when it installed blows me away…
This game rocks. I mean this game is outstanding and just fun to play. I don’t even mean to say that this game “doesn’t totally suck” and because of my extremely low expectations it turned out good. I mean this game stands on its own as fun and entertaining. This is one of the best zombie games I have ever recently played, and it is one of the best tower defense/horde mode games I have played. This game has made me actually believe in the validity of the zombie genre once again. Thanks to this game I may even be willing to give Days Gone or upcoming Dying Light 2 a chance. The game is therapeutic with its massive take on tower defense as you and three other players (or bots) defend positions from massive, and I do mean massive hoards of swarming zombies. The “swarm engine” the developers had to design to handle such massive amounts of assets on screen was absolutely incredible and impressive. It feels like no other zombie game when you are battling a angry swarm of human sized bees with machine guns. Not only does this game have more enemies on screen than I can ever recall seeing, they truly can break off and act as individual zombies. This truly gives the perception of hundreds of actual individual zombies attacking you while at the same time giving this dread of a massive swarm.
Another thing that I honestly can’t give Saber Interactive enough credit for is that World War Z could easily have been a free to play nightmare. They could have easily made this a game where you start with a generic bland character and tried to sell us 20$ skins, and hidden better pay to win guns behind aggressive pay walls. I could just see how much this game could be EA’ified to death, but no. This game allows you to unlock an impressive amount of unique, detailed, and different characters. The fact that there were over a dozen unique characters to choose from put many AAA games to shame that launch with 3-4 similar looking stock characters. I also give the developers major credit for building a decent campaign and offline options into a game that also could easily have been made multiplayer only. For a small independent developed multiplayer game, they didn’t have to build a campaign or add offline play, but they did and I feel like that really added to the experience. While it was brief and simple, I enjoyed the campaign and the ability to play by myself, but also the multiplayer experience was still really enjoyable. During my time playing the game, I experienced no crashes, no bugs, or no frame rate drops on my One X. I must say that I feel like this game could be added to my regular “go back to” list of games that I keep playing every now and then in between reviews and streams. I do have some criticisms, the sheer number of zombies made the choice in weaponry feel forcibly cramped. Even on Lower difficulties, the sniper rifle and non automatic weapons are basically useless. You just can’t do enough damage quickly enough to hold back a swarming horde. The only way to play really is full auto and high capacity weaponry. A cross bow looks cool but isn’t great against 378 zombies. More gun balancing and options would be a nice future addition. Also, this game is very co-op so if you have bad teammates or are playing offline with bots, the higher difficulties may prove extra challenging as teamwork and strategy are key. The zombies also could use some more asset diversity; while it is impressive to see so many zombies on the screen at once, finding ways to tweak the models to add more options would be great so I don’t feel like I’ve killed the same zombie clone 12 times in a row. Repeats are to be expected, but algorithms to fight multiple repeats in the swarm occurring sequentially or simply adding more zombie models are all room for improvement. All in all, I highly recommend this game. While it is not perfect, it was just a blast to play and really surprised me. The usually forewarning sub-60 launch price is unwarranted because the game is truly a great deal, and the 40$ price tag makes it a great bargain buy to pick up. Whether you love the zombie genre, or are like me and are weary of the genre and want something different, this game is definitely worth a try.