I’m really sick of all the zombie TV shows, movies and video games. The market has become over-saturated to the point that every time I see a new series or trailer, I groan and have no reservations about voicing my disappointment.
My attitude toward the “World War Z” movie remained the same when it debuted. Sure, I eventually saw it, but I never will volunteer to watch it again. Not to say I don’t like the entire genre, “Shaun of the Dead,” “Zombieland,” “Train to Busan,” anything involving Bruce Campbell and the Evil Dead series and even “iZombie” have special places in my heart. But to me it’s just more of the same uninspired, generic stuff.
My brother, the man who owns more games than me at this point, immediately jumped into the game, “World War Z,” when it came out. I just rolled my eyes and said I’ve seen gameplay, but maybe when it goes on sale, we could play together. To be fair, I already have deemed “Warhammer: Vermintide 2” one of my favorite zombie-killing games of all time, but I also get to shoot and slay giant mutant rats in that series as well. So, I avoided buying the game like a zombie plague. But predictably, when a sale dropped the price, I finally gave the game a chance.
Sure, “World War Z” implements some of the basics of a zombie-survival shooter. Your squad of up to four players has an assortment of classes to choose from, weapons and gadgets to use and a variety of different enemies to shoot at. Ammo seems limited and switching weapons, or using med kits takes time. So healing yourself, or refilling ammo isn’t the smartest strategy when you suddenly find yourself surrounded by a legion of animated corpses, which becomes a major draw of the game.
These reanimated ghouls aren’t always the mindless, sloth-like hordes you might be used to. Sure, you will come across a couple lurking around a particular hallway, or lurching toward a wall ignorantly. But one shotgun shot will alert the neighbors and start a chain reaction that will have their friends climbing over walls and buildings, plowing through streets over cars, obstacles, and even each other instinctively. If you have seen the movie, you will recall the visuals of thousands of zombies piling over each other, forming enormous piles (zombie walls) to surge past whatever defenses normal humans attempted to set up.
The game captures every aspect of this concept during missions. Not only that, zombie walls are a major element of the game. At key moments, the undead try to ruin your day by climbing over each other to break through barriers, tear up equipment or munch on important armaments that are key to completing missions. The only way to survive is to knock the walls down.
It took me awhile to figure out sub-machine guns and assault rifles weren’t going to get the job done. I needed bigger guns. Rocket launchers, grenade launchers, and massive machine guns did the trick. You know, the weapons that excelled in creating explosions. Blasting the walls apart and watching hundreds of your ghoulish victims fly through the air remains as satisfying as it is helpful.
Situations can grow pretty intense, and it did surprise me just how many animated characters swarm on screen. Maybe it’s parlour tricks, but peering out into the distance and watching thousands of monstrosities head your way often leads to a sense of impending doom and dread. Of course, there are opportunities to set up turrets, mounted machine guns, traps and electrical wire, but the calm before the storm never seems to last long enough.
I played online mostly with random people, and while that can be a mixed bag, I didn’t really have too much trouble finding a game. Mission objectives aren’t always explained very well, so teammates really have to work together. A weird bug that sets voice chat through your TV speakers annoyed me more than it should (because people screaming through headsets doesn’t help me smash things). Overall though, the game offers a different experience than I’m used to — and let’s be honest — blasting zombie walls just never gets old.