Even though I’m a fan of the movie, I like co-op games and zombies, admittedly, I had very little expectations for the video game adaptation of World War Z.  After all, despite the franchise heritage, we’ve seen this same old zombie shooter, waved-based formula time after time.  Additionally, with this game also being inspired from the likes of Left 4 Dead, a game that still holds up well today, arguably this formula is still done better, despite the last entry in that particular series being nearly ten years ago.  I know, I’ve only just started writing this review and it already seems that I have World War Z eradicated like a zombie plague vaccine.  However, as little as ten minutes into playing World War Z, I found myself already having so much more fun than I ever expected.  Could World War Z be the best Left 4 Dead game since well, Left 4 Dead 2?

Upon hitting the basic main menu, you can jump into some co-op campaign or even some PvP offerings.  From someone that loves gaming as much as I do, I often feel over anxious when playing games that relied on playing with others.  That said, you can play World War Z with three other bots, but then you’d be doing yourself and this game a miss-service.  So despite my hesitations, I jumped into some online co-op and was quickly thrown into a game matched with other players.  Interestingly, all four episodes and eleven chapters are open from the get-go, so you can jump into any chapter.  But if you’re starting this game new, then I would recommend of course starting from the very beginning, so that you can experience the brief story from start to finish.

All in all, there are six character classes to choose from in the campaign, such as your standard heavy hitters, all-rounder, medics and so forth.  Each class will have their own levelling-up progression system, where you can earn credits along the way to spend on unlocking additional perks and abilities for that individual class.  The weapons will also level-up as you progress and you can spend your earned credits on better versions of the weapons that you already have unlocked.  The better weapons that you have unlocked will either be with you at the start of each mission or you can pick them up at some point during the said mission.

The mission structure of World War Z is very simple, you must get you and your party from A to B with objectives in-between, before moving on to the next chapters and episodes.  Each of the chapters will probably last about 20 minutes, but that will also depend on how good you and your team are working together, as well as the chosen difficulty.  Interestingly, every time I’ve played World War Z so far, no one has had a mic.  I expected this to be more of an issue,  but as long as you have three competent human players to make up the team of four, and as long as you watch each other’s backs, you shouldn’t have much of a problem.

Though you will no doubt at some point be teamed with that random knob-head that attempts to rush the mission, running far ahead on their own, resulting in them being constantly downed.  You can also sneak through some areas undetected if you creep and use silenced weapons, but that same rush knob-head is likely to open with a blasting shotgun, blowing your teams cover.  Or to add further frustration, that knob-head will be totally unaware that all they have to do is move into the highlighted area to end the mission, even though they are yards away!

Approaching the beginning of each mission is often best using stealth, however, even when you’re cover is blown, it can be exhilarating being charged at by the blood-thirsty, frantic hordes of the undead.  It can really be a sight to behold seeing swarms of zombies chaotically clambering over one another, charging through a dam or over a high wall as you lust for your blood.  Even in close-quarter corridors, the action can get very intense and if you’re separated from your group (I’m looking at your rusher), you will make the task at hand far more difficulty then it should be.  So working as a team is of the utmost importance and if you can get a group of friends on the same wave length, then you’re going to have so much fun with World War Z.

As previously and briefly mentioned, World War Z also offers its own take on popular multiplayer PvP modes.  Personally while my main focus for my enjoyment of the game will be on the co-op campaign, it’s still a nice addition to have extra options if you want to play something a little different from what this game has to offer.  Included in the multiplayer modes are Swarm Domination, which requires you and your team to capture zones to beat your opponents.  King of the Hill, capture the single hill for as long as possible.  Swarm Deathmatch, basically a Team Deathmatch with zombies getting in your way.  Scavenge Raid, requires you to find resources located in the map or you can take them from fallen opponents.  Finally we have Vaccine Hunt, find and pick-up the vaccine for as long as possible to earn points for your team.  In the multiplayer modes, you also get to choose from 10 character classes, rather than the six that you have in the co-op campaign.

All in all, going into World War Z, I was not expecting to have the high level of fun that I had found.  After all, this is a game that does not command an AAA price-point, it’s based upon a movie (which often most movie tie-ins suck) and it’s in a tired, almost exhausted genre.  For years we’ve been waiting for Valve to give us Left 4 Dead 3 and in truth that may never happen.  So I was more than pleasantly surprised that World War Z was much more than a L4D stopgap.  Sales wise, World War Z has already exceeded expectations,  and with free additional content and continued support along the way (as detailed here), hopefully this is a game that can increase it’s player-base furthermore over time.

However, the odd crash to my dashboard has been frustrating, especially as you’ll lose that mission progress, so hopefully that will be fixed with an update.  With that said, please don’t let the budget price, genre or movie tie-in factor go against any potential purchase of this game, because if you give World War Z a chance, you must just discover one of the most fun co-op games that you’ve played in quite some time.  World War Z is a chaotic, tense and fun co-op shooter, where it’s just as much fun kicking ass as it is being in constant threat of death.