World War Z review for PS4, Xbox One, PC

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Saber Interactive
Medium: Blu-ray
Players: Multi
Online: Yes

The film version of World War Z is one of those Hollywood book-to-movie adaptations that makes you wonder if anyone actually read the book prior to filming. It?s about as far removed from Max Brooks? post-zombie apocalypse novel as you can get, featuring very little in common outside of the fact zombies are a threat in both movie and book. So when the announcement that a game based on the movie that was sort of based on the book came about, it wasn?t something that felt particularly noteworthy. Now, having played said game, I?m surprised to find that it?s actually pretty good. It?s also a fitting representative of the ?World War Z? title, in that it has about as much in common with the film as the film did with the book.

World War Z  bears a strong, strong resemblance to Valve?s now defunct Left 4 Dead series. It?s been a good decade since the last Left 4 Dead game, and surprisingly there?s been very little attempts to fill the hole left from the absence of that very popular co-op shooter. World War Z does a great job of filling that void though, with satisfying combat, a variety of character classes and weapons, and interesting map design spread across the campaigns four locations. There?s also separate leveling up and experience gains between character classes and weapons, with skill trees and options to help customize your play style a bit.

The biggest component that helps World War Z stand apart from Left 4 Dead is the large scale zombie hordes you?ll occasionally have to fight off. If you?ve seen the film, this is similar in effect, with just a massive quantity of zombies pouring in from various directions, accumulating and moving in a way that almost resembles a wave of water. It can honestly be a little terrifying on screen, and works really well. It can also be remarkably satisfying, as you chuck explosives into a massive horde of undead bodies, shaving off the pack in an effort to hold them off. There?s a number of moments, even early on, that?ll stand out as pretty memorable experiences.

World War Z is best experienced through online co-op, but can be played with bots if need be. On higher difficulties the challenge is such that I don?t think the bot A.I. is up to the task, but on normal you?ll be fine. Stages are comprised of sections of larger real-world areas, like New York and Tokyo. Typically a map will have multiple action points, usually culminating in some sort of objective that needs to be completed while holding a point against zombie hordes. You?ll take two weapons into a map, generally a pistol and another main weapon, but can locate more weapons and special heavy weapons while advancing. Any weapon you kill/damage with will gain experience, so even if you pick up a weapon that isn?t necessarily your ?main? you?ll still get some progression out of it.

On a technical level, World War Z might not be the prettiest game on the market, but the effect of the large-scale zombie hordes still comes off as impressive. The effect never really gets old, even if you see the general set-up recycled throughout the campaign. Also, the overall performance of the game holds up pretty well despite having a whole lot going on at once, even on a standard PS4. My only real complaint, and something that?s been addressed via patches, is the occasional connectivity hiccup. At this point though, I?ve found my online experience with World War Z to be pretty smooth.

I?d absolutely suggest giving World War Z a shot, even more so if you were a fan of Left 4 Dead. It really scratches that itch, namely a fun, zombie focused co-op shooter with a solid progression system that?ll keep you hooked for a while. So despite its association with a so-so horror film, World War Z manages to rise above its source material into something that I found to be a lot of fun.

Note: Focus Home Interactive provided us with a World War Z PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: A-