Zombie Nazis, classic horror movie imagery, 80s synth-heavy music, and a ton of firepower! Rebellion Developments, known for the acclaimed Sniper Elite Series returns with 3rd person zombie shooter that’s just as fun to endure solo as it is with other comrades. Choose a character tailored to your action style, equip and upgrade your weapon loadout, and reenter the World War 2 era with a twist. Instead of Hitler’s defeat, he releases a zombie army that swallows Europe. Join the renegades whom survived the war and are out to put and end to this zombie problem. Utilizing dramatic executions and kill cams, with a large variety of enemies, Zombie Army 4: Dead War is quite flashy and fun, even if the title sounds generic. And most everything is done well here, but there’s one hurdle to address.
A Lot Of Meat On The Bones
The campaign is lengthy. Each chapter can take over an hour to finish solo. So buckle up and get ready to trudge through the trenches. Select from a few different characters that excel in their own niche (i.e. mobility, melee, sniping). With little gameplay interruptions, the action is at a constant. And though the level design is very linear, there is a good sense of flow. I didn’t expect the zombie infested canals of Venice to have such detail while seamlessly pulling the player to the next waypoint without getting lost. There are a few side areas to explore to find weapon upgrades and other extras. But the exploration is like the dialogue in classic horror movies, not the star of the show. I didn’t watch Dawn of the Dead for the Hallmark moments. I’m here to see the protagonists blowing zombies to bits in gruesome ways.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War puts the action first and foremost. So much that there are ammo boxes everywhere to replenish your weapons. And if that’s not enough, you can stomp on zombies and ammo will spawn from the exploding giblets. There’s no need to conserve your bullets so you can literally “Spray n’ Pray.” And since the weapon firing is promoted so much here, the gun physics and sound effects lend themselves well to add to the experience. It feels great to zoom in with your rifle and go for those head shots. Taking a shotgun to a small room filled to the brim with zombies is satisfying as well. Adding a synth-wave soundtrack eases up on the chills and focuses mainly on the thrills.
Another Zombie Shooter?
Even though a lot is pulled from other games, this isn’t a deterrent. This game may handle like the Resident Evil remakes, so why consider? Recently I looked at 41 Hours and and took note on how much was borrowed or recycled. That title failed because the inspired nuts and bolts lacked cohesion to the overall experience. With Zombie Army 4, however, the reused themes and ideas from previous works add to the game’s charm very well. It’s not just mechanics, but also the 80s music and retro horror imagery all seem to mesh well. This helps give the title a better sense of identity. Killing Nazis is no new motif in the action genre (looking at you Wolfenstein). But when they’re reincarnated in hoards of brainless zombies in 1940s Milan with a 1980s soundtrack, it’s a unique way to continue to harass the legacy of Hitler himself.
And if zombies is what you want, than zombies is what you will get. This game will take you through canals, military bases, train stations, and many other European and classic horror movie settings. And there are different zombie types for each chapter, which adds so much variety. Tired of the suicidal bombers that run at you in groups while on fire? Well, soon you’ll find acid spitting zombies that emerge from the rivers and fountains. Enter a military base and find armored enemies that can only take damage from their uncovered areas, which vary from model to model. These zombie types are only from the first few chapters.
The DLC Dilemma
I’ve stated previously how I’m not a huge fan of DLC. In some cases where the main game is free or lower in price, I’m more so okay with it. The problem with Zombie Army 4: Dead War is that the core game is priced at around $50. That’s a lot to pay before considering if you want to invest more into the title. With that in mind, the limited amount of weapons you can cycle through on your playthrough may begin to bore you, especially when there are so many new pistols and shotguns eyeing you on the weapon select screen.
I think a good compromise would be to have some of the weapons and characters as in-game unlockables, while keeping the extra missions as the primary DLC items. This yields some reward without forcing the player to immediately pull their wallets back out. Users on Steam have even claimed that purchasing the $75 deluxe edition of the title, did not give them everything. For those on a penny pinch, this is a fatal flaw and a stay-away which is rather unfortunate since this is a great game.
With a title as generic as Zombie Army 4: Dead War, it’s easy to skip past this one. Even looking at screenshots and gameplay footage, there doesn’t seem to be many new features introduced. However, in some circumstances it’s possible to release a polished title without needing to reinvent the wheel. And Rebellion Developments did just that while keeping a sense of identity. This is a quality title with plenty of campaigns, characters, and weapons to come back to, if you’re willing to shell out the extra cash.