‘Infestation: Survivor Stories’ Review: The Worst Zombie Game Ever Made

WarZ_1

Update: The developer has since changed the title to Infestation: Survivor Stories (formerly The War Z).

You’ve probably heard about it by now, possibly only in angry whispers from fellow gamers who had been scorned by its disastrous release. The War Z may very well have been the most controversial game of 2012, but it’s also a solid contender for worst game of the year, and that’s pretty damn impressive in a year that brought us XBLA flop Amy, 007 Legends, and another Naughty Bear game. For the unfamiliar, The War Z is a game that was heavily inspired by DayZ, the Arma II mod created by Dean Hall that’s getting a standalone release sometime later this year. There’s not much else to it. It’s a DayZ clone, and a rushed one at that.

Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I decided to try The War Z out for myself. I tried to reassure myself before I hit that big yellow purchase button on the game’s official website, “it can’t be that bad…” I said. I like the concept, and I’m a full believer that there can be more than one DayZ style game out there. Competition inspires innovation, and all that jazz. If you’re up for it and you have a strong stomach, why don’t you join me on this little adventure? I promise I don’t bite, though I can’t say the same for the undead hordes.

When I first heard about The War Z, I was excited for it. I hadn’t played DayZ and it was essentially the same thing, only easier to get and with added polish. Hammerpoint marketed it as the “first survival MMO zombie game,” and the first batches of screenshots and gameplay looked universally great. Fast forward several months later to the game’s long awaited release on Steam and the controversy that surrounded it before Valve removed it from their platform and all my excitement had succumb to anger and disappointment.

Let’s put the controversy aside to better focus on what’s most important, the game. I haven’t buried the lead here, as you can read it clearly in the title of this review that this is quite possibly the worst zombie game ever made. At the very least, it’s the worst I’ve ever played.

For starters, it fails on the very basic principle of good game design in that it’s not particularly fun to play. It’s frustrating, the controls and animations are clumsy, there’s very little to do, and perhaps worst of all, Hammerpoint didn’t even bother trying to hide the fact that The War Z is very obviously all about the money. Look, I get it, companies need to make money. The problem I have with this is you’re already paying $15 for the game, and Hammerpoint has the balls to ask its players for more money for in-game purchases? A lot of what you can buy in the store, which by the way, is the only the thing about this game that functions perfectly, isn’t necessary to your survival. However, they also charge for basic things like ammunition, and the right to revive without having to wait a few hours. (Editor’s note: this bit wasn’t clear as originally written: the game no longer charges for character revival.)

I’m not even going to get into the fact that they don’t warn you that everything you buy can, and almost definitely will be lost when your character dies, as nothing you outfit your character with is tied to your account.

Now that we have the most egregious thing about The War Z out of the way, let’s touch on the gameplay. Hammerpoint has made a considerable effort in pointing out that this is a “foundation release.” Essentially what this means is they’re charging you for an unfinished game because, Minecraft did it, so why the fuck not? The problem here is Minecraft functioned well as a game even its basic beta form; it didn’t punish players for not throwing down additional money in-game for basic features.

The character and enemy animations are laughable. They’re unpolished to a degree that they wouldn’t pass as a student project. Zombies shamble toward you robotically, and when they get close enough, you’re free to wail away on them for a minute or two until they go down. I think I saw one attack animation across the several hours I spent with the game, and eventually I had to mute it because every time you hit a zombie they emit the same goddamn howl. Thankfully, Hammerpoint was merciful enough to add four or five different zombie sounds, so you can go a solid three seconds before you hear the same one twice.

So it doesn’t play particularly well… what about the things you can do? Well, I honestly don’t know. Unfortunately, instead of guiding you in any way toward something even remotely resembling a quest, mission, or NPC, the game instead decides to throw you in a forest with a flashlight and the feeling you just wasted $15 that could’ve been better spent on, say, anything.

But DayZ did this too, right? Sure. However, DayZ was a mod for a game developed by a single person and, oh yeah, it was free. DayZ creator Dean Hall could’ve waited for you to get five hours playtime before triggering an unstoppable horde that kills you immediately. He could’ve done this, because his game was an experimental mod. It was a test to see if gamers would be interested before he decided to do what he and his team are currently doing with the upcoming standalone game.

Now, if the standalone DayZ is as bad as The War Z, I will gladly eat my words. I will slather them in butter and eat them up.

Until then, I’m going to stand by my opinion that this game is a disaster.

I get that the goal is to form a band of similarly minded misfits before setting off to camp next to spawning points to pwn those noobz, because let’s face it, people are assholes. I like that. It’s an interesting idea and one that hasn’t been touched on in gaming. You have clans or guilds in fantasy MMOs, but I can’t think of many post-apocalyptic MMOs that let you roleplay The Walking Dead.

The only downside to this is it creates a barrier of entry for new players, because not long after The War Z released did it take for a bandit mindset to infect everyone who had been playing it since the beginning. This means there are more players reenacting The Governor and his gang, as opposed to Rick and his band of merry survivors.

You would think that the one area in which The War Z could best its predecessor would be in the visuals department, and if you thought this, you would be wrong. There are some areas where this game looks better than the mod that inspired it, but as a whole, there really isn’t a significant difference in the graphics. That’s bizarre, it really is, and it leads me to the only reason I could think of that something like this would look like the absolute bare minimal amount of effort was invested into it: it was a rushed product that Hammerpoint wanted to get out as quickly as possible in a desperate attempt to capitalize on DayZ’s success.

Hey, I know you were thinking the exact same thing.

Hopefully, Hammerpoint will improve the character interaction with the support they promised for the game, because right now there’s no voice-chat and no way to tell who a player is when they’re near you. This makes it extraordinarily difficult to find friends in its expansive, barren world unless you’re using a third party program like Skype.

In case you decided to skim the review so you could get to the dessert, I’m going to break it down for you. The War Z is an ugly mess of a game developed by a greedy company that was more focused on getting your money than it was on creating a video game that provided even a modicum of enjoyment. It’s ugly, clunky, and the entire time I was playing it I couldn’t shake the thought that I was playing an endurance test no-so-cleverly designed as a zombie game.

The Final Word: The War Z might not be pay-to-play, but it certainly is pay-to-win. The only thing Hammerpoint did was take everything DayZ did as a free mod, make it significantly less enjoyable to play, then charge $15+ for it. In its current state, this isn’t worth anyone’s time.

This review is based on the PC version of The War Z, which was purchased from the official website.

Have a question? Feel free to ever-so-gently toss Adam an email, or follow him on Twitter and Bloody Disgusting.

  • djblack1313

    i’m not a gamer but i’d be fucking pissed if i bought this and was scammed by these dicks.

    • spartan87

      I bought it, it was awful. But I got my money back so I’m not as angry as I initially was. I just want the developers to go out of business.

  • weresmurf

    Adam: Idea for a competition… people leave reasons why you SHOULDNT give them a WarZ code! The lucky 10 winners don’t receive one… the rest of us? Well… fuck…

    • Adam Dodd

      That would only work if there were a way to force those who lost to use the code and play the game. Even if I could, I don’t think I could do that to you all.

      • weresmurf

        Hah, fair point… cancel BD memberships if they don’t? lol. Either way, thanks for taking one for the team and playing this crap. My mate bought it, played it for two days on Steam then got a refund. I watched him when he first got it, we both went from slightly amused, to playing it to see how horrible it could possibly get… each time we logged in, when we COULD log in, it just kept topping itself.

  • Kainrich

    I’ve had this game since day 1(Oct 15th), and pretty much agree with the review. In regards to not knowing who players are, etc, they have a pretty sweet patch coming out tomorrow (supposedly!) that includes nameplates and stuff, but they’re known to run late on patches.

    I’ve mentioned it before here at BD, but i’ll say it again, that the WarZ community is full of ***holes. I’m still holding out hope that they can turn the game around.

    PS! I’m not sure about the first or second, but the third picture above is a proven fake. One of many that they used on their homepage to lure us hopefuls into buying their game!

    • Adam Dodd

      Oops, I didn’t know that. I went ahead and updated all of the screens, just in case. Thanks for catching that!

      • weresmurf

        It’s all good. It’s a valid thing to put up. They used fake pictures, pre-posed shots and claimed them as ‘in game’. By replacing them with your ingame shots, it shows what you REALLY get.

        Hey there’s an idea…

        “What you were promised… (fake pic)”

        “What you GOT. (real pic)”

      • Kainrich

        Np, it’s really kind of sad, the pics you had posted before are so lively and animated compared to the actual product! The in-game world is nowhere as dynamic as their screenshots would have you believe.

        I can’t wait for State of Decay and the newest build of Project Zomboid to come out so I get some decent zombie survival action going on!

        • Adam Dodd

          I can’t believe they haven’t removed them from the game’s website. That’s just… crazy.

          State of Decay looks to be shaping up nicely. I’m looking forward to seeing how that game turns out.

          • weresmurf

            Just checked some videos on youtube. Wow. Thanks for bringing that to my attention Kainrich!!!! State of Decay looks awesome! Getting a DEAD RISING meets DAYZ feel from it! :D

  • ThunderDragoon

    Yikes, I’ll be avoiding this like the plague.

  • Chainsaw Graphics

    I 100% agree with this review. I had been following the games progress since it was announced, and bought the “Legend” pack the first day they offered it for a whopping price of $60. From day 1 I tried my best to like the game, and I am still upset because it was a total waste of money. Im hoping the get the bugs worked out, but I am afraid its hopeless.
    On a side note,.. the forum or community is policed heavily. Most negative posts or reviews of the game on their forum is taken down very fast. The creators are Russian scam artists, and people need to get the word out there so others don’t make the mistake and continue buying this game.

  • djblack1313

    adam (and anyone on this site) i’m on your sides, but i’m just curious, how is this issue (fake/misleading pictures used to sell something) different from movie trailers with fake/for the trailers only footage scam trailers like PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3, BLACK CHRISTMAS (remake), PIRANHA 3D (tv spots), etc???? i agree 1000000% that games, movies, etc shouldn’t be allowed to do that (it should be illegal to false advertise things but if movies can get away with it and no one (except us fans) says anything i guess all’s fair and they can do that with games as well. AGAIN, i’m with you guys on this and it should not be allowed to happen.

    • Adam Dodd

      In this case, it’s an issue because the images they have on the game’s website right now show features that aren’t actually in the game. They show someone driving for instance, but that’s not a feature. They also make the game look great visually, then when you’re finally in-game you realize it’s pretty ugly.

      Also, am I the only one who actually likes the trailer-exclusive footage for horror flicks? Why would you want them to give away the scares in the trailer? I like that nothing’s ruined, but hey, maybe that’s just me.

  • BadEvil777

    If you can find it, there’s a great home brew game from several years back called Dusk of the Dead. The only real down side is that the guy working on it just stopped working on it, so there’s only 3 complete levels.

  • Bood-The-Virus

    this is by far the shittiest review for the game i have ever heard… yeah you raise a couple good points (i.e. clone of day z, devs are downright retarded) but graphically your images clearly show you running the game on low settings… try ultra bro lol the game looks slick as fuck. as for hackers sure there are hackers and they are working on it… over the past couple weeks ive seen a huge decline in hackers and have actually been able to enjoy the game once again. missions? this is a SURVIVAL MMO… not an MMORPG there are no missions… your mission is to survive… does dayz have missions? didnt think so. you feel like you dont know what to do well again your mission is to survive which is any means necessary… join a clan go on looting missions with them, fill up your GI (global inventory since you seem like a fucking noob) and then go out and kill people… its fun as fuck if you know what the hell you are doing which you obviously dont… (btw that pay to revive feature was taken out over a month ago dumbass)

    • Weezle

      I’m gonna have to agree here. I too play this game and I have to say this review is pretty unfair. Either Adam has been writing this review well over a month now, or he failed to check the pay to review feature was removed in like mid Dec.
      Also this game is pretty impressive when the settings are turned up. The level of suspense I get when i’m playing this is higher than any past game i’ve played (trust me it’s alot).
      Trying to scavenge and not knowing if someone is going to run up on you and blow you away just to steal your Liter of water. Or you’ll piss off a zombie and cause it to drag 5 more to you, it’s really intense. Also if you know what you’re doing the firefights in a town with other experienced players can be one hell of a rush. I think this game could be awesome with some more fine tuning.

    • spartan87

      Um…if you could read you’d notice in the details hammerhead listed about the game there are supposed to be missions. So your point on that is moot. The game isn’t fun, it’s a piece of shit. Also, running the game on ultra changes nothing, it still looks like shit. The only interesting thing about this game is the tension created from knowing you may lose everything at any moment. Other than that, this garbage shouldn’t exist.
      PS Sitting there calling someone a noob just makes you look like a childish troll

    • chris99x

      Honestly, this response is fitting only because this clearly demonstrates the type of userbase the game attracts. Any forum or review I’ve seen has posts by users like this. Kinda funny, in a way.

    • weresmurf

      Sergei, stop trolling BD and get back to fixing your fucking game…

  • ryaniskira

    This game fucking sucks dick my friend made the mistake of buying it after i warned him not to. I gave it a try I could not stand it for more than 5 minutes. This game is dev by a greedy company. No wonder Valve removed this from Steam.