Tuesday 15 October 2019

Days Gone review: Dead familiar

(PS4) ★★★ Age: 18+

Days Gone: The much-trumpeted hordes don't become a factor until late in the game
Days Gone: The much-trumpeted hordes don't become a factor until late in the game
Days Gone
World War Z
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Originality may be overrated but a little goes a long way. Perhaps the zombie trope had been bludgeoned to death already when Days Gone began development in 2015. Yet here we are four years later and it has hardly a new idea to call its own.

DG's post-apocalyptic Oregon wilderness picks liberally from a cross-media melting pot that includes The Walking Dead, The Last of Us and Sons of Anarchy - not to mention any Ubisoft open-world game of the last 10 years.

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If that cocktail of influences whets your appetite, you won't be too disappointed. Days Gone deftly emulates its inspirations without ever upstaging them. It pits a dislikeable survivor of the apocalypse against hordes of the undead, plus hostile gangs and - most egregious of all - a fuel tank in your motorbike that must be constantly topped up.

Employing all the usual open-world buzzwords - crafting, skill trees, upgrades, rival encampments, etc - it's a PowerPoint-driven checklist of unsurprising ingredients. The terrifying floods of speedy zombies that dominated early trailers don't make an appearance until much later in the game, leaving Days Gone to lean too heavily on its borrowed pillars.

It lacks the sheer humanity and nuanced writing of The Last of Us, a game it resembles far too closely for comfort. Doubtlessly, it provides dozens of hours of entertaining - if very gruesome - zombie-slaying but you'd be hard-pressed to remember much of it when the PS4 is switched off. Gone within days, you might say.

World War Z

(PS4/XO/PC) ★★★Age: 18+

World War Z

If you think Days Gone feels derivative, get ready for serious déjà-vu. World War Z not only resurrects the tired zombie theme but appears to be a wholehearted clone of 2008's co-op shooter Left 4 Dead. The link to the Brad Pitt film of the same name seems almost throwaway, too.

So WWZ has to stand shakily on its own two feet, throwing up to four players into a roving quest besieged by hundreds of aggressive zombies. Usefully, it retains the film's signature of swarming walls of zoms that can be toppled by attacking the base.

But at its heart, WWZ is an average multiplayer shooter - albeit competently made and occasionally pleasingly frantic - with just a handful of levels and showing us little we didn't experience a decade ago.

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