This franchise saw the light as an expansion from Sniper Elite. Deservingly so, Rebellion turned it into a solid standalone game. You might think that ZA4 is just another typical shooting game with zombies but that’s definitely not the case, this arcade solo or co-op 3rd person shooter fills a hole for Xbox. Besides Borderlands, you simply don’t have a lot of silly shooting games that don’t take themselves too seriously. As you will clearly notice when a shark zombie appears or see one of the many doll horror scenes. While it isn’t as robust as Sniper Elite 4, Rebellion truly delivered something wacky fun.
What we liked!
- Foolish story about Hitler and beating hordes of Nazi zombies: We killed Hitler in the previous ZA game but his decision to turn the Nazi army into zombies still has to be dealt with. Cities are being overrun in this alternate World War 2 world. While the story isn’t really the focus it still remains fun to see the often ridicules outcomes and conversations. Developer Rebellion has done a fantastic job to make the world feel alive and even charming, despite all the roaming undead. You’ll come across a few unexpected easter eggs or notice some really well-detailed setpieces, for example, a Nazi suicide location in chapter 1.
- Fun arcade shooting: The shooting gameplay and mechanics are simply solid and remain fun for hours and hours. I have to admit and say that it becomes a little repetitive but that’s largely solved by the competitive feeling of always wanting that headshot, keeping your combo-meter up and increasing your points by using the melee bonuses. Rebellion isn’t making it the player easy, even on the easy-difficulty things will become a bit challenging. Especially on narrow pathways or when exploding zombies come from everywhere (they even drop from freaking hell planes to suicide bomb you)
- Visually great A-to-B level layouts: By far the best thing from ZA4 is the level design and how much detail can be found in the environments. You proceed in a linear fashion but the world is still huge enough to feel lost, your exploration will be rewarded with easter eggs, collectibles or temporary weapon powerups. Visually ZA4 is a significant improvement over Sniper Elite 4, it might be a little unfair to compare because in Zombie Army you don’t have the same draw distance but it is much more detailed and the fire effect look gorgeous.
- Killing your zombie friend is fun, ZA4’s worthwhile co-op play: The entire campaign is playable with three other friends, the difficulty will scale depending on how many online players join. The funny thing here is that a friend will only respawn when you killed his zombie version. Besides the lengthy campaign you have a wave mode and a weekly challenge. So you definitely have enough content for your money.
- I can accurately hit an enemy 500 meters away with my sniper but the super-soldier characters can’t hit zombies accurate with melee-attacks? You can do special melee attacks but for some reason, it regularly fails to hit any zombie, even when you are surrounded. The same with the stumb ability, it fails to do what you expect would happen. Anyway, when it works it is fun. Killing enemies from distance and then moving in close to do the melee attacks to increase your combo-score.
What we disliked
- Forced restarts because of bugs: What is more frustrating than having to restart your progress because a pathway remains closed or that some stuff fails to trigger? Right, not much… I can understand that this happens one time but multiple times? I was stuck twice on “kill all zombies” moments, a required gear-piece failed to insert into my quest objective and an invisible wall blocked my way out of a boat. This shouldn’t be happening and I can only blame a lack of proper game testing.
Rebellion made a really fun to play arcade shooter, alone or with online friends. The levels are linear but large enough to motivate exploration to find easter eggs and collectibles. Born as DLC from Sniper Elite and grown up as a worthy franchise, Zombie Army 4: Dead War will be a time well spent for many gamers.