World War Z Xbox One Review

May 4, 2019 by  
Filed under Xbox One, Reviews & Features, Xbox

Publisher: Focus Home Interactive  Developer: Saber Interactive  Genre: Action  Players: 1-8 

Age Rating: 18+  Other console/handheld formats: PS4

Being that the Left 4 Dead series went down so well, it’s amazing that no one has come along to fill the gap that it has left in the market since it has been dormant. With World War Z, however, we finally have a more than capable replacement, which also does enough to be taken on its own merits as well.

Given that its source material is the book and film of the same name, World War Z is definitely lacking in narrative. There’s a basic story here and completing a level with a character unlocks a bit of back story about said character, but this simplicity is still disappointing considering that a lot more could have been explored with the varied characters and their stories in this dying world.

Like Left 4 Dead, World War Z is a cooperative zombie shooter for up to four players, although it‘s third person as opposed to first person. You are limited to online multiplayer here, however, with no local options in sight, which is a shame. As for the online options, there are no private rooms, which feels like a bit of an oversight. There are a number of classes and the game is best experienced by playing to the strengths of your currently chosen class, and this added depth is definitely one of the biggest things that steers the game away from the Left 4 Dead series.

There are six classes in all, each of which has their own added perks to unlock, and it will take you a long time to be in a position to say that you have unlocked the lot. Classes are distinct enough with their perks as well as their starting weapons and equipment, and you’ll surely find a favourite or two after trying out the lot of them. Classes range from traditional to some with a few more twists.

Even though the game is multiplayer focused, AI is capable enough.

Weapons – pistols, machineguns, rifles, shotguns etc – can also be upgraded, with you earning XP for each one through use, and you can then make use of Performance Points to upgrade stats of a single weapon. This added depth is pleasing, and like the classes as well as various difficulty levels, it adds to the replayability of the game.

With the ruined and broken environments of New York, Jerusalem, Moscow, and Tokyo, the game has four campaigns to its name, most of which have three relatively large levels to get through. These short campaigns are distinct from one another, and even offer up different characters, and you’ll have to work as a truly efficient team to get through the hordes of zombies that you come up against.

The zombies here are often in huge numbers, with it being possible to have up to 500 on screen at once, and with reliable shooting mechanics and also a handy machete, they‘re also fun to slaughter. Like the film, the zombies rush in and form pyramids by standing on top of one another in order to climb. As you might expect, it’s a very tense and fast moving game, and seeing the undead swarm is an incredibly intimidating and heart pumping sight, with them pouring in from all directions at times. Like Left 4 Dead, the game has its special zombies as well, with one lying in wait and pouncing on you, another releases gas when killed, a larger one repeatedly bashes you against the floor, and so on. Yes, some of these have basically been lifted from Left 4 Dead, but that’s no problem given that Left 4 Dead is a currently absent series in terms of modern day gaming.

Whenever the big, big attacks happen, you are often able to find and setup defences, such as machine guns, mortars, and barbwire. These defences are helpful for crowd control as you and your team attempt to survive the onslaught of swarms and swarms of zombies, and many a player will surely feel masses of relief if they are standing at the end of it.

To round out a lovely package, World War Z also features five competitive multiplayer modes for up to eight players, and offers separate classes over the cooperative campaign mode. In terms of what’s on offer, with the likes of deathmatch, Capture the Flag, king of the hill, and domination mode, the game offers few surprises, but that’s not to say that it’s entirely without its own ideas. The addition of swarms of zombies definitely adds something, and means that you have to be careful of their presence as well as players from the opposing team. It all makes for an interesting twist on long time modes, and is often chaotic fun. Still, some zombie based modes wouldn’t have gone amiss, as while killing them does earn you some XP, there are not any actual competitive modes that are centred on the zombies themselves.

With Left 4 Dead missing in action for so many years, World War Z’s existence is a very welcome one, albeit one with a few imperfections here and there. The game’s inspiration is obvious, but there’s also enough here to set it apart from Valve’s seminal zombie series, although with added depth and the always impressive zombie swarms, it’s not difficult to believe that this is also exactly the way a modern day Left 4 Dead game would be presented.