World War Z
At this point, we don't know what to make of the upcoming Brad Pitt movie, World War Z, which debuts in theaters June 21. Although we don't need much convincing to see a zombie film, the fact that it's PG-13 raises an eyebrow, along with the possible liberties Hollywood took with the critically-acclaimed novel from Max Brooks. Concerns aside, the concept makes for a fun video game, and Paramount Digital Entertainment was wise to hire Phosphor Games (of Horn and Dark Meadow fame) for the job. The result is a gripping adventure with plenty of action and a control scheme that may change mobile shooters going forward.
In it, you assume the role of Doug, a zombie apocalypse survivor desperately trying to reach his son Rob, who's in Japan. The plot definitely works, and the developers add depth with additional characters, news alerts and radio broadcasts that fill you in on the various goings on.
To that end, the game is part first person shooter, part point-and-click adventure. Instead of using a virtual stick and buttons, the team divided this title into action and exploration segments. When zombies appear, Doug whips out his gun and all you have to do is point the weapon at a monster, whereupon which the game auto fires; much better than having to aim and then rapidly press a button. It's important to note Doug holds his ground, and you are unable to move, aside from aiming; if you prefer non-stop zombie killing, Challenge mode definitely satisfies.
As for exploring, you simply tap a space along the floor and Doug moves to that exact location; no fiddling with the camera, thankfully. While these portions of the game are more methodical, they grant the opportunity to check computers, bodies, file cabinets and dumpsters for ammo, health syringes and XP, which is one of the game's currencies. Not only does this prevent repetition from the shooting stages, but you also get to admire the attractive scenery; a very nice touch.
The only part of World War Z we feel lukewarm about is the melee combat. The idea here is to tap arrows to dodge a fast-moving zombie, a button to shove the creature and then a swipe to hit that sucker with a weapon; let's say a crowbar. It's functional, but there's a learning curve to grasp the mechanics. Quite frankly, we would have eliminated it altogether, or come up with something different.
In regards to the shop, you're free to spend XP and cash on more powerful weapons, armor, health, upgrades and other valuable items. If you play these sorts of iOS and Android games on a regular basis, nothing here will surprise you. Naturally, the best things come with a high price tag, and grinding and/or in-app purchasing becomes the norm, depending on which suits your tastes.
World War Z crashed on us once and there appears to be an issue among some Android players, but by and large, it's an impressively-made shooter and collect-a-thon that manages to avoid the dreaded movie game curse. You'll have to pay $4.99 to download it, and we feel it's worth the money, especially if you're in need of a zombie fix.
Review code provided by Paramount Digital Entertainment.
What's Hot:Innovative control scheme that removes the hassle of playing FPS games on touchscreens, mix of action and exploration, plenty of items to collect that enhance the plot, enjoyable Challenge mode, shop stocked with weapons and other valuable items.
What's Not:May crash during play, melee segments don't feel as polished as the rest of the game.