Reviews - Updated on April 10, 2022

Studio Saber Interactive, known for the fantastic first-person shooter TimeShift, decided to try their hand at the ever-living genre of zombie apocalypse games. World War Z is an adaptation of the movie of the same name (which in turn is based on the book) starring Brad Pitt. The picture, released in 2013, turned out to be very vigorous and managed to collect an impressive box office – to this day it is the biggest budget (both in terms of costs and fees) zombie film.

Saber Interactive, of course, did not have that kind of money to create their version of World War Z, but, as we know, modest budgets do not always mean modest developer ambitions.

book, movie, game

Zombie Apocalypse storylines are usually not particularly original: in most cases, the perpetrators of a mass epidemic are either the military, who lost control of a pathogen used as a biological weapon, or scientists who created a deadly virus. Sometimes the authors are completely silent about the origins of the epidemic, limiting themselves to indirect hints and inviting viewers, readers or players to build their own theories about the causes of the disease.

WWZ is no exception. Watched a movie or read a book – great; There is nothing wrong. The game follows the story that was told in the original – a zombie virus is rapidly spreading across the planet, civilization is on the verge of destruction, and a handful of survivors in various parts of the Earth are trying to survive and maintain hope for the salvation of the human race.

The main characters are random people who, by chance, were among those who managed to avoid infection. There are 16 in total – four for each of the four locations: New York, Jerusalem, Moscow and Tokyo. The characters turned out to be quite original, and each has its own story: for example, engineer Arnett is trying to find loved ones who disappeared at the very beginning of the epidemic, for the former SAS officer Ethan, zombies are just another, albeit very dangerous, enemy, and the priest Sergei protects his flock, using the skills acquired in a previous life (he was a criminal).

The characters and motivations of the heroes can be understood both by their appearance and by their behavior directly during the game – if you, of course, have time to listen to their conversations during the passage. In addition, after finishing any level with one of the survivors, you can watch a short video (more precisely, a set of animations in the best traditions of low-budget indie), which tells the biography of this character cheaply, but with a soul.

That kind of attention to storytelling is great, but in the meaty zombie shooter genre, gameplay comes first, right?

World War Z game review

Such posters work great for the atmosphere – a trifle, but nice.

Around the world in 11 levels

It’s hard to resist comparing WWZ with Left 4 Dead – so I’ll say it: in terms of gameplay, we have something very much like a shooter from Valve. The four main characters travel through a country filled with zombies, shoot off fans to feast on other people’s brains and try to get to a safe place that will allow them to get a little closer to salvation.

The geography of what is happening, however, is much wider – let me remind you that you will have to visit four different states. The locations turned out to be recognizable and unique: each level has its own style, whether it’s snowy Moscow, where for some time there were no clumsy inscriptions, as it were in Russian, or the narrow streets of Jerusalem at night.

Another noticeable difference from L4D is the presence of now fashionable RPG elements: each player can choose one of six classes (note that this choice does not depend on the appearance of the hero): shooter, demoman, executioner, medic, techie and fighter. After passing each level, the experience gained is calculated, allowing you to learn passive skills that are unique to each class. Actually, this set of skills, auxiliary weapons and a starting set of equipment will be the main differences between different classes – machine guns, shotguns, rifles and even chainsaws with grenade launchers, generously scattered throughout the levels, can be picked up and used by everyone. Weapons, of course, can be pumped, but there is not much variety in improving barrels.

The passage is not reduced to a simple running from one key point to another. Very often you have to interact with the environment: open or lock doors, turn on various devices, accompany and protect NPCs – not forgetting, of course, to shoot numerous enemies.

World War Z game review

Father Sergei’s look does not bode well for the zombies, no matter how many there are.

Man is a wolf to man, and zombies are zombies

The bulk of the opponents are ordinary zombies who die from one or two hits from almost any weapon. But there are also special enemies, which are not so easy to resist. Thug Taran in special forces equipment is extremely strong – he knows how to knock down and ruffle a victim who has been hit, and to kill him, you will have to spend a lot of ammunition. The catcher, according to his nickname, likes to attack from around the corner with a swift jump, and it is difficult to react to his attack – it remains to hope for the help of friends. Toxic, dressed in a biological protection suit, must be killed with a well-aimed headshot, otherwise a damaging stench will spread around a fresh corpse. Finally, the Shrieker with a megaphone on his belt is not dangerous in itself, but his heart-rending screech attracts more and more zombies, so you should get rid of him as soon as possible.

It is noticeable that in terms of the variety of special enemies, WWZ is inferior to L4D. Yes, and in terms of quality, to be honest, too: these ghouls themselves cannot throw any special challenge even at high levels of complexity. But ordinary zombies take literally in quantity – sometimes they attack in hundreds.

Such hordes of the dead are the hallmark of the game. The very first attack of such a living (no matter how strange it may sound) wave makes an indelible impression. Zombies keep coming and coming, they are not hindered by high obstacles or walls – they can easily build a “ladder” from their own bodies to get to human meat. In such cases, it is rarely possible to get by with your own weapons – you have to use improvised means: electric fences, barbed wire, machine guns, turrets and even mortars. The number of killed enemies goes to hundreds, it seems to be fun, but, oddly enough, a huge number of zombies does not at all guarantee interesting gameplay.

World War Z game review

A machine gun and a crowd of enemies – what else is needed for happiness? Maybe an interesting implementation of shooting?

Bac-bac – and over!

Somehow, the developers managed to miss one of the key elements of such games – the feeling of shooting and the pleasure of successful hits. It is possible that the reason is just a large number of zombies and their poor health. Even with the most ordinary submachine gun, you can not worry about aiming – there is always plenty of ammo, just hold the trigger and keep the sight on the crowd. Semi-automatic (and even more so sniper) rifles are practically useless – despite the high damage, the rate of fire is too low for so many targets. Of course, such weapons are convenient to use against special enemies, but these guys do not meet so often that it makes sense to constantly carry a barrel that is ineffective in a normal battle.

Not everything is going smoothly with the interface and controls – the third-person view interferes more (the character model blocks part of the screen), and for some reason the crosshair of the sight is shifted noticeably higher than the center of the monitor. The reaction to hits turned out to be so-so: the ragdoll, which does not keep up with the moment of the murder, leaves much to be desired, besides, for a large number of opponents, you have to pay with unsightly animation and the bodies of the dead disappearing right before your eyes. But you won’t find fault with optimization – the number of frames does not sag even in the most crowded scenes. Actually, the same “fan” is felt only during such large-scale raids, when explosives, grenades and machine guns are at hand – firing from hand weapons is much less impressive.

It is clear that the cooperative, for which the project is designed, allows you to forgive a lot – it is always more fun with friends. Definitely deserves at least one joint passage of WWZ. However, the plot here is very short, unlike pumping – in order to learn all the skills even for one character, you will have to replay the same locations over and over again, completing already tired tasks. Increasing the difficulty level does not help much – it is easier to die, but the behavior of the enemies, as well as the event triggers, remain unchanged. In addition, the dependence turns out to be the opposite: on the contrary, you first need to pump the character and weapons, so that it makes sense to play on more complex settings without dying every five minutes.

If the success of Left 4 Dead is largely a consequence of the AI ​​Director system and asymmetric multiplayer, then in WWZ everything is sad with this. If there is any semblance of a “Director” here, then his influence on the passage is minimal, and the network game does without any asymmetry. Yes, the developers are cunning, calling the confrontation mode with other players PvPvZ (Player versus Player versus Zombie), – in fact, we have a regular Team Deathmatch in various variations (for example, capturing points), besides, on very microscopic locations. Hordes of zombies spawn on the map from time to time, but can’t make much of an impact on the sluggish firefights between two teams of four.

If a massive attack has begun, heavy weapons are indispensable.

***

Despite all the shortcomings, World War Z looks like a good choice for fleeting entertainment in a fun company – buy for 400 rubles, find three comrades, go through the story and forget. The problem is that in reality the purchase will cost three times as much, and on the PC the shooter has become another exclusive to the Epic Games Store, while all friends have remained in another gaming service.

Pros: stories of the main characters; location design; an impressive number of zombies on the screen.

Cons: short campaign; uniformity of passage; poorly conveyed sensations from shooting and hits; boring pumping; primitive PvP mode.

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