Earlier this week I had an opportunity to check out the mobile game for World War Z from Paramount Digital Entertainment and Phosphor Games Studio. It hits the iOS and Android stores today (iOS link here) and, for $4.99, provides a surprisingly complete gaming experience.
“Offering a fully immersive experience, players are dropped into the middle of the World War Z chaos. Casual and core gamers will both love the game’s action-packed first person experience and electrifying story. Featuring 28 visceral levels, intense combat, engaging puzzles, upgradable weapons and armor, an unlimited challenge mode, and a global scale, this game challenges you: play to survive.” Meanwhile the film is in theaters June 21st from director Marc Forster. The zombie epic stars Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox, and David Morse.
As we arrive in the Paramount offices a rep preps us for the demo, “As gamers we’ve all seen a pushback on story-driven film-based games. The challenge is that there’s been too many exploitations. There’s a gaming space that’s not really integrated with the film property, and there’s been a hard time telling a story with the game engines and the game tech. Now that we’re getting on to mobile devices, we’re finally able to fulfill that promise.”
We begin the demo of the game, which starts on a normal day for the central character. It should be made clear that while the events of the game take place in the same world and during the same time frame, it’s not the story from the film simply ported over to the game. In fact, Brad Pitt’s Gerry Lane (from the film) isn’t the central hero. Instead our avatar is Douglass Perry, a single father (in the game’s opening scene he’s about to pick up a chick in a bar before all hell breaks loose) who must travel half the world to reunite with his son during the zombie apocalypse.
Paramount collaborated with the film’s screenwriter, Matthew Carnahan, in bringing the game to life. Indeed, the experience captures some of the vibe of what we;ve seen from the film with its globe trotting adventure. The story sprawls from Denver to Kyoto to Paris, but does so in a classic first person shooter style. There are 12 levels in each city with different difficulty modes including a “cheaters” mode where you can just swipe over zombies to get your requisite head-shots (something I’d recommend until you get the hang of navigating the environment on a touch screen device).
As with most first person shooters, the game also includes a fair amount of time spent searching the environment for clues, keys, paperwork and information. You can also stock up on ammo and health packs and you can trade in experience points for more destructive firepower in the game store. Melee weapon options include crowbars (a zombie braining staple) and swords. To move around you tap your finger on your intended destination, an action which at first doesn’t play out as fluidly as you might like. This is one instance of a touchscreen experience where you might miss the more varied controls of your keyboard or console.
The graphics are pretty great for an iOS game. We’re not talking “Bioshock” or “Fallout 3” or anything, but for an apocalyptic FPS on iOS, they more than do the job. In fact, even when you hook your device up to your flatscreen there’s still a good amount of HD detail, shadows, contrast and color. The killing of the zombies is fun, as is escaping from them. The achievements and benefits of searching around complete the experience.
After the presentation ended I received a download code for the game and played it on my iPad at home for a bit and was easily sucked in. While I didn’t have time to finish the game, I’m actually looking forward to setting aside some time to make more progress in that world. Again, it’s not as epic or thrilling as some of the better XBOX 360 games, but with around 5 hours of intense gameplay, it seems like a pretty great deal for a fraction of the price.