Thursday, 9 May 2019

World War Z (Xbox One) - Review

I'm sure we can all agree that it's been a while since any of us played a decent zombie slaying game. A few years ago zombies were the done thing, seemingly slammed into any game to make a quick buck (I'm looking at Red Dead Redemption's Undead Nightmare here - though admittedly that was quite a lot of fun). They were popping up everywhere and we were lapping it up, spending untold amounts on the expansion packs for extra maps in the latest Call of Duty's zombie mode. 

Zombie games were truly mindless escapism for me. I'd party up with some friends and we'd mulch through Left 4 Dead together. I had a go at Dead Rising, which never really gripped me - but admittedly my favourite part of the first game was taking photo's. Case: Zero however, the Arcade game released on the Xbox 360 was one of my favourite games of that gen. 

Maybe it's because life generally got busier or maybe it's because there were more open-world games released that caught my attention, but I soon found myself shying away from zombie games. I found myself bored of them and have still yet to complete Season 2 of Telltale's The Walking Dead, despite loving the first one. My few precious hours a week gaming for my own enjoyment are usually spent on my Switch now that my kids are old enough to commandeer the Xbox. The little bugger's don't even go to bed much earlier than me anymore. *sob*.

I'd read World War Z a long time ago and had loved the book. The film, not so much but that's by the by. To be honest I'd forgotten that World War Z the game was happening. I had remembered hearing about it, but it seemed like such a long time ago that I assumed it had been cancelled. Luckily the PR people behind it sent out a fair few emails in the run up to the game releasing, so I sent in my request. 

World War Z's campaign is separated into four episodes in different parts of the world. You can go it alone, but it was super easy to join in with three randoms and jump straight into the first episode set in a New York subway. 

Now obviously this game isn't going to be a huge story driven game, but I have to admit I found more story than I was expecting. There's quite a lot of choice in terms of who you play as, and you unlock their own back stories by playing as them, which is pretty neat. You also unlock tiers within the six different classes on offer - gunslinger, hellraiser, medic, fixer, slasher and exterminator. Each of these classes has different strengths and weaknesses and they're a lot of fun to play around with. Each and every weapon has separate upgrades too, making your weapon of choice stronger the more you use it. 

This first level starts off easy enough, but if someone on your team isn't pulling their weight you will soon notice. Luckily enough for me I was in a team of people who had all played the game much more than I had. 

There was a point in that first level that had me in awe. If you've played it you likely had the same experience. The zombies in World War Z - or 'zekes' as they're known in this universe - are fast and numerous. They will clamber over everything in their path, resembling a giant wave. The first time I saw this I honestly just watched it. I thought the animation of this was brilliant. Then the bastards came crashing through the glass and into the building we were holed up in. 

We had set up a couple of traps and were all equipped with plenty of weaponry but a few of us went down and needed reviving. They were running up the stairs towards us and I thought we had a handle on them. Then I realised I was receiving damage and turned around. Behind me the zombies had formed a what is basically a zombie pyramid and had used this to climb up and surround us. 

Honestly, that first level of World War Z really made me fall for this game. I was surprised by it. Seeing that first huge wave of zombies crashing down the road was unforgettable. I had doubted that this game would feel the same as either the book or the film and I was wrong. 

Continuing through the campaign will see you visit Jerusalem, Moscow and Tokyo in turn. There isn't really much to say about the objectives in any of these areas. Let's be honest if you were in the middle of World War Z, would you be bothered about anything other than fighting for your life? There are, of course, some objectives but these are mostly used to lead you around the map and keep you in certain areas for long enough that you can get swarmed. 

Yes this can get repetitive. But what game can't really? In my spare time I'm currently playing Assassin's Creed: Odyssey - a huge open world game that has fort after fort to 'complete'. This gets repetitive too, but I'm still playing it 40 hours later. 

World War Z looks better than I was expecting too. I mean this is a game that literally has hundreds of moving parts on the screen at any one time, but I never saw it stutter. Is it the prettiest game I've ever played? No. But it certainly couldn't be described as ugly and there's a level of detail I honestly wasn't expecting. 

There are a few online modes too, which I have to admit I haven't ventured too heavily into, choosing to replay the campaign levels instead. I don't often get time to play online anymore, but there seems to be plenty here to keep the more active online gamer happy. 

The long and short of it is whether or not you have fun with a game and I really have had fun reviewing World War Z. I challenge any of you to play it and come away honestly stating that you were bored. I'm betting that the numbers would be low. 

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