World War Z Review: Not A L4D Clone

World War Z Review

The pandemic of 2020 showcased how governments across the globe respond to the viral spread of COVID-19 within their borders. Needless to say, many were not prepared or sufficiently equipped to handle such a crisis on a national level. I would not be surprised if there are people out there clamouring about the virus giving them zombies instead, kinda like World War Z. Should a thoughtless desire come to pass, it won’t be like the game or the movie.

World War Z is a 4 player co-op zombie shooter, and due to that term alone, many veteran gamers are compelled to compare World War Z to Valve’s beloved Left 4 Dead series. Is it better than the latter? Yes. But if you throw in Left 4 Dead modding scene into the mix, the answer is a definite no.

If you’re curious about the origin of the zombie pandemic, World War Z does not elucidate on the matter sadly. You may, however, get your curiosity quenched from watching the World War Z movie instead. Though it may have failed to expand on the origin of the pandemic, it succeeded in showing how different countries across the world combat and handle the crisis. And that is what I love about World War Z.

World War Z Review Campaign
World War Z | Saber Interactive

World War Z placed you at the heart of the zombie apocalypse of 4 major cities, New York, Jerusalem, Tokyo and Moscow. No, you’re not playing as a survivor that’s hopping from one city to another, making you think that you’re a bringer of death and destruction wherever you go. You’re simply playing as one of the four survivors from each city instead.

The first city you will be playing at is in New York City, and it opens with our 4 survivors coming to a decision to abandon their rooftop haven in lieu of running out of supplies. At the same time, it showcased the U.S military doing their best to redirect the zombie horde out of New York City and into the Bronx – where a massive kill zone has been set up by the military to wipe out the zombies for good. Our survivors took this prime opportunity to escape from the city and make their way to the evacuation centre.

Or should you decide to play at another city instead such as Jerusalem, you will find yourself playing as one of the 4 special ops. They are tasked to rescue a scientist named Greengold who had sent out a distress signal for help. In the midst of the rescue, you will learn that the scientist has access to a super classified weapon and it can eradicate the zombies. Your team is immediately reassigned from a rescue mission to an escort mission.

Mafia turn priest
World War Z | Saber Interactive

Seeing how the campaign for World War Z spans across the world along with each of the characters have their own unique background stories such as Tashaun being a fireman from New York and Father Sergei, a Russian mafia boss turned priest, adds layers of depth to the story of World War Z. I can’t help but be invested in wanting to know what’s in store for the survivors. The downside of all of this is that you can’t have your favourite character in New York running around the infested streets of Tokyo, as it doesn’t fit the timeline of current events. Even though you can’t play your favourite characters globally, you can play your favourite class across the world.

There are 6 different classes for you to choose from, Hellraiser, Gunslinger, Medic, Fixer, Slasher and Exterminator. Each of these classes has their unique gimmick such as the Medic being extremely proficient in healing whereas the Hellraiser is second to none in clearing walls of zombies within seconds with explosives and the Fixer is capable of dropping ammo bags or even make the entire team goes stealth nearing a full 10 seconds.

30 is the highest attainable level for every class and every time you level up, you are given a new perk skill to utilise. With that being said, you can’t use all 30 perk skills at a given time as that would totally break the game. Instead, you are to choose one perk among the 3 for every increment of 3 levels. World War Z does this so as to give you a certain sense of ‘RPG’. You can have various builds for one class and build one that suits you.

Fixer Class
World War Z | Saber Interactive

Let’s take the Fixer class for an example. I mention early that the Fixer is capable of dropping ammo bags or make the team goes stealth didn’ I? Once you select perks that are related to ammo bags, any perks related to stealth will be invalid or even redundant to use. This level of flexibility is important as you can change and adapt to your team playstyle. If your teammates are exceptionally amazing at dying, go stealth. Should they be lacking in firepower, drop ammo bags as that stuff give your bullets an explosive touch.

There’s no shred of doubt that levels in World War Z are linear. And Objectives such as finding stuff, gathering stuff and defending a specific location are pretty generic. Yet World War Z is capable of turning a somewhat repetitive course of actions to be a non-chore by adding a fine layer of story element to it.

It goes without saying that guns and zombies are the bread and butter of every modern zombie apocalypse scenario. And those two factors in World War Z adds a whole lot of flavour to an already reused and abused idea. The way how the gun sounds and it’s recoil gives you an indicator of the gun level of ‘kick’.

World War Z Review Assault Carbine
World War Z | Saber Interactive

There are 3 tiers of guns and each tier is stronger than the last. World War Z does not shy away from letting you feel powerful with a tier 3 gun in your hands as compared to a tier 1. And that feeling is rightfully yours, especially when you are fighting zombie hordes in Extreme mode – the hardest difficulty available. In such a level of difficulty, your tier 1 gun is nothing but a peashooter.

Now, the zombies. Certainly many would say that the special infected of World War Z is a blatant carbon copy of Left 4 Dead. And to that, there’s a room for argument on that point. The special infected from both worlds share the same attack gimmick such as the Bull from World War Z and the Charger from Left 4 Dead perform the same charging attack whereas the Lurker from World War Z and the Hunter from Left 4 Dead does the same pouncing attack. The difference between the two is how to kill them efficiently.

Pumped enough bullets and just about anything would ultimately be dead. But you don’t have the luxury to do that in Extreme as zombies are swarming in by the hundreds. To kill a Bull efficiently, you must either break the visor off the Bull helmet or go around its back and lay waste on its exposed rear. Gunning it down from the front is futile unless you aim to destroy its visor as its bulletproof vest can soak up tons of damage. Knowing how to efficiently kill a special infected is what separates you from the lambs going into a slaughterhouse in Extreme.

If you ever got bored from the PvE aspect of World War Z, there’s always PvP. Or to be precise, it’s PvPvE. Truthfully speaking, there’s no point in going for it as you won’t get any token that is required of you to spend on upgrading your guns and perks after completing a PvE run. Besides, the types of PvP mode that you can expect is the standard affair from any half-decent shooter genre. You know, the likes of Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and King of the Hill etc. But I must admit, when the zombie horde comes pouring down, the fighting escalated to a whole new level of chaos.

World War Z is not without issues. Bugged servers, you will see multiple same characters in a campaign lobby and the match won’t start. Network issues, zombies in the distant will appear right in front of your eyes. Boosted zombies, normal zombies that all of a sudden can run as fast as a bull or even faster. Invisible zombies, you get hit out of nowhere even when there’s no zombie within your immediate perimeters. 

Double-tap zombies, their attack animation is so fast that you got hit twice within a single attack. And popcorn zombies, as the name implies, zombies that pop out of nowhere and sometimes in front of your face.

World War Z Review Bugged Server
World War Z | Saber Interactive

Funnily enough, the issues above only appear in the hardest game mode, Extreme. You won’t see any of those problems when you’re playing at any other difficulty. Without experiencing it myself, I would think those kinds of zombies would be the stuff of myths and legends. You might contribute the zombie issues to be World War Z way of making life harder for the players. But at one level lower, Insane difficulty, the only problem that might pop up is getting a buggy server or network issues.

World War Z can give you the chaotic and hellish zombie horde experience with messy gunfights. It’s a fun experience be it you’re going solo, playing with friends or even with random pubs. If you’re new to World War Z or ruminating on getting it, do not dive straight away into Extreme mode. Unless you want to feel what’s hell on earth looks like.


Platform: PC (Windows[Played]), PlayStation 4 & Xbox One
Publisher: Mad Dog Games
Developer: Saber Interactive
Rating: 7.0 out of 10


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