When Call of Duty: World at War introduced the concept of fighting Nazi zombies it was a novelty treat. I think most people considered it to be a one off secret bonus, but now we're on the third Treyarch COD game and Zombie mode has become an integral part of the series. In fact it's so popular that there's speculation that the Zombie mode will get it's own game to shine in.
Will the interest still be there though? Hell, are the zombies even still fresh in this years iteration? Let's take a look and quickly move past that last lame pun.
The first Zombies game offered very little in the form of story. You simply found yourself in a house, attempting to prevent zombies from breaking in and eating your brain. The second version expanded on this by adding maps and a hint at some sort of overarching story. In this third outing, there's a slightly greater resemblance of a story in the form of a mysterious disembodied voice giving you guidance. So for the hardcore zombie fans that love to scour the game for story hints, that should be a real treat.
If the story isn't a huge draw for you though, then you should know that classic zombie killing is just as fun as ever and now it's available in two modes. "TranZit," as indicated by the pronounced "Z," is a commentary about the zombies on the public transit system. In a rather lengthy campaign, that can be played single or multiplayer, you move from map to map via a bus operated by a creepy robot driver straight out of "Total Recall."
This mode has a real emphasis on being a team player and not a total asshole. You can easily jump on the bus and get it rolling before anyone is ready to leave. If you do that you force your teammates to hoof it to the next location. Unfortunately, if you try to move through the fog without protection, you'll be swarmed by demented little creatures that'll ride your back and fuck your shit up. The whole objective of which is simply just to get to the end of the map. Along the way you can get into different buildings and discover strange new things and secrets. For instance, I went into an outhouse and found a secret lab. Possibly the best thing I've ever found in an outhouse.
Each area also has different things to assemble. For example in the secret science lab, you have to assemble a control panel which will then allow you to turn on a gigantic electric generator. This will open doors and fry your teammates if they're standing in the wrong place. Once again, total opportunity to be an asshole.
Alternatively, you have your standard survival mode where you pick a map and fight it out there for as long as you can. It's as fun as ever, if you can ignore the chatter of your teammates. And I don't mean the crap you hear over the mic, I'm talking about the things that the characters actually say. It's irritatingly unfunny. It's pretty clear that they're trying to pump out hilarious dialog at every opportunity and it just falls flat.
Another introductions to the series is Theater Mode which allows you to record matches, save them and then upload them. Sadly, you can only upload a two minute clip and it takes FOREVER for it to render. When I attempted to use it, I spent about forty minutes waiting for it to render only to have the upload fail. When it does work though, its a neat little novelty feature that is far from being user friendly.
Overall this a strong return to a unique concept. The changes are minor, but they've gone a long way to keeping the over all experience engaging. Ideally, it would be nice to see Treyarch expand the concept even further next time, but given that it's just a bonus feature on a much bigger package it would be unlikely to see the series reworked from the ground up. Really, a better Theater Mode would be all that I'd want. At it's core though, it's still a fun zombie killing experience and it's good to see it coming back better than ever.