Developer: Paramount Pictures
Price: $4.99
Version: 1.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★½☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

IMG_0013As much as we would all like to believe otherwise, it would be hard to pinpoint a time when an iOS game/film tie-in was anything other than mediocre. Most of the time the result is an uninspired collection of mini-games or a direct clone of another title, already on the market. Sure, there are the rare exceptions to the rule, but these are far from regular occurrences. The recently released World War Z title hopes to derail this trend with the help of compelling action and stellar visuals. Can it manage to overcome the stigma, or are we looking at another zombie game that is dead on arrival?

There is no better place to set a game than the apocalypse. Up is down, left is right, and random airplanes start falling from the sky for no explainable reason. SERIOUSLY. Players are thrown into the role of a man just trying to reunite his family. The only problem is they are on opposite sides of the globe. Armed with his wits, as much ammo as he can carry, and a firearm or two, the protagonist sets off on the daunting quest of simply staying alive.

It is growing very easy to tell when a game uses the Unreal Engine. World War Z just so happens to be one of those games, borrowing a little bit of everything that the engine has to offer. As one might assume, gunplay will play a large role in staying alive, taking the form of waves of glorified shooting galleries. Along the way there will also be occasions where hand-to-hand combat become a factor. These sections take the form of dodging and swiping a melee weapon, much like what could be found in Infinity Blade. Unfortunately this is where things begin to unravel.

IMG_0015The action of the story flows shockingly well for a title that has virtually no contextual ties to the base franchise that has inspired it. Each set piece does a solid job of progressing the storyline, throwing in moderately challenging environmental puzzles, and providing a surprise or two to boot. Where the wheels fall off the wagon is any sequence where the swipe controls are mandatory to fight off the infestation. Ultimately they end up feeling unnecessarily finicky and unrefined. When you can drop thirty enemies at a time with a pistol, it makes no sense why a single adversary in close quarters combat will account for the majority of player deaths.

For everything that World War Z succeeds at, it is undone just as quickly anytime the gun is taken out of the player’s hand. While these issues aren’t insurmountable, it will probably still inspire a legion of rage quitters. For a title that clocks in at the hefty price tag of $4.99, there should probably have been a bit more attention to the tuning. That said, if you see past the obvious stumbling blocks, there is still plenty of ambitious game design to be appreciated. Tread lightly, because much like the real thing, the zombie apocalypse has a way of getting to you… one way or another.

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