If there ever was a zombie apocalypse, one of the many possible nightmares is to live in a world where the undead are actually just as fast as humans. World War Z, the upcoming feature starring Brad Pitt, offers up this terrifying notion, and thankfully the iOS game is faithful to that concept. But faith is a trick thing, and whether this title lives up to your expectations depends on your tolerance level.
The key to World War Z is to survive, as gamers take on the role of a former military pilot named Doug. His sole goal is to leave his current metropolis and fly to Kyoto, where his son has just been attacked by his zombie mom. Doug has his own horde of flesh eaters to worry about, and he starts off the game armed with just a handgun and, minutes later, a crowbar. Dying is easy business in the game, as the zombies don't take a bullet and immediately drop to the floor. Head shots are absolutely the way to go, and if too many of these suckers are in your path, slow them down and fire a few rounds at their legs.
The main strength of the title lies in its dedication on being more than just an undead shoot 'em up. Between killings, you can roam any given area and find ammunition, health packs, and items that will help you progress to the next level. Tapping on various books and notes that are hidden in desks or a vehicle's trunk nets experience points as well, so if searching and scouring is something you love to do, World War Z won't leave you wanting. Cut scenes for the game are also on a first rate level, and it's almost worth the download just to watch all that madness.
All the intent in the world pales in comparison to actual execution, and unfortunately World War Z strikes out in one major category. Although you're given the choice of touch/swipe controls or the use of a virtual joystick, the control system is, for lack of a better word, horrible. When using a crowbar to kill your enemy, you're advised to quickly make your maneuver, which is to tap the screen to push the zombie away and immediately swipe a finger down your device to strike the target. The game's response time to your finger swiping is sub-par, and expect to die numerous deaths due to this erroneous flaw.
Aside from the swiping problem fiasco, killing the zombies gets dramatically easier with the first set of new guns and upgrades that are available for purchase. If you want to remain with a handgun, you can opt for a 9MM pistol, but for the less accurately inclined shooters, I'd definitely go with the submachine gun. Buying these weapons also gives the ability to upgrade the item's magazine size and reload speed, two vital elements to improve when a group of zombies are headed in your direction.
Players who can't stand story mode can simply enter challenge stages, where they can still earn experience points in the process. Whether it's practicing your head shots or learning how to perfect killing with a melee weapon, challenge mode is perfect for gamers who simply want to rack up a body count. Although shooting zombies in Paris and Denver are great options to have in the game, I prefer the faded, near black and white aesthetic of Kyoto.
The game actually excels within its more subtle moments. After the violence subsides, you may wander into an empty room which features a few clues on how to get one step closer to your son. Exploring this world's darkened spaces and uncovering different clues brings an extra level of dimension to World War Z. Each frame captured looks and feels extremely cinematic, and its play with light and shadow brings a welcome visual depth to the title.
World War Z could dramatically improve its controls, but that irritating flaw doesn't ruin the entire experience. There is a visceral thrill to mowing down as many zombies as possible, but thankfully the developers bring much more depth to the overall proceedings. I'd be perfectly fine reading random journal entries from dead humans or punching in codes to unlock a few more doors. Life, and in this case war, is much bigger than the walking dead.