by Christopher Coke
previewed on PC
Savior, Stalker, or Both? (cntd)
I made my way to his location but on the way something curious happened. It crossed my mind that I did not need to be a good guy, I did not need to be me within the world of the game. I could be a criminal, the ghost of the roads, killing and plundering as I saw fit. The game became a torrent of possibilities.
I heard gunfire off to the north. It sounded near but with the way sound travels in the game, it was hard to be sure. This would be my chance, two bandits trying to kill each other and I would sneak in take them both. I found the reports coming from a nearby city. By this time, I had found a hammer, so creeping up behind walkers and destroying the brain was not an issue. Silent and deadly. Sneaking into a building, I waited. Then they came, again and again, closer now. Looking out the window, I saw a flare burning in the yard of a tall office building. One of them had to be in there, I knew it, but I could not see anyone perched in a window. I made my way over, taking out several zombies on the way.
The office building had rooms and rooms full of potential loot. Not seeing anyone, I side-tailed into a small office. Food and water were littered on the floor. My screen flashed red and my health meter dropped. I spun around and took the fatal blow. I was dead. Behind me was a well-supplied survivor with the same nail-ridden club I had looked down on with a rifle strapped to his back, now adding mine to his collection. Somehow I knew, there was no second bandit. It had all been a trap and I had fallen in.
This is what The War Z is about, the intricate, dynamic gameplay that comes from giving players a set of tools and saying “have at it.” It is the kind of thing most games just cannot deliver. The lucky few who do, however, go down in the annals of video game history for delivering some of the most memorable gaming experiences players are ever likely to have. There is incredible potential here.
In terms of mechanics, the game functions similarly to most other first/third person shooters. (The developers have opted to allow on-the-fly switching between the two). The game controls like an old friend, key binds are familiar, and the whole game generally functions as you would expect. Beginning on normal mode equips you with a flashlight and backpack and places you near one of the Colorado map’s many previously-populated towns. If you are lucky, you will spawn away from urban location where player killing is most likely to occur. From there it is up to the player to search abandoned cars and buildings to find equipment. Thankfully, a flashlight can also be used as a club should the need for defense arise. Remember kids: Aim for the head.
Astute players will notice that they are given two gameplay modes at character creation: Normal and Hardcore. Normal is not less difficult. The big difference is lockouts. When you die on normal, that survivor is unable to be played for a period of time. In the preview build, this was only an hour; however, the developers have said that it could be as long as 24-48 hours. On hardcore, when your player dies, he is gone for good, and anything he was carrying is expelled from his corpse like a bullet-ridden loot piñata.