Endless Waves of Nazi Zombies
Rebellion's Sniper Elite franchise is one of the staple names in the third-person tactical shooters. Sniper Elite V2, the first title to feature the series' signature X-ray kill-cam, received the Nazi Zombie Army and its sequel expansions. Their success was followed by a standalone Zombie Army Trilogy title in 2015. After five years, Rebellion decided its time to treat its fans with a standalone sequel, and thus Zombie Army 4: Dead War was born.
Dead War puts players in the 1940s with Germany on the brink of losing World War II. Hitler wasn't having it, and the Nazis started hosting rituals to raise the undead from their sleep. Now, it's your job to mow down the hordes crawling through the streets of Europe and protect the world from undead armageddon.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War takes you through Italy, Germany, and other parts of Europe on your quest to cleanse the world bit by bit. Rebellion's storytelling has improved massively over the years, especially in the zombies department. In each new entry, the studio incorporates different elements that lead into a bigger story arc and grip your attention. The dialogue, documents, collectibles, and general gameplay flow really invest you in the story. In between chapters, I often found myself going through the collectible letters and documents I picked up along the way. They expand upon the lore and give you a look at who encouraged Hitler to go through with the plan, among other stories.
Along the way, you stumble upon several ceremonies meant to resurrect Hitler's army of the dead. Their gruesome details provoke discussion between your character and their general back in the base, which helps progress the story and gives you a sense of why exactly this is happening. Most of the plot comes across through characters communicating throughout the chapters like this, but the title fails to make any of them memorable. They feel empty and purely made to fill in for voices to tell the storyline.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War does a terrific job in differentiating countries and even cities. Rebellion does an amazing job of capturing the essence of what makes every city or country unique. When you roam the streets of Venice with its water canals and bridges then move down south to a more suburban setting, the difference is felt immediately. I was able to take advantage of the environment around me to hold on to a zombie horde long enough to get the explosive kills perk.
Even as you deal with large hordes of zombies, they rarely feel full of clones. There are a variety of enemy types and models, each with unique weapons and weak spots, to always keep you on the edge of your seat and adapting to what the Nazis throw at you. You will face everything from teleporting snipers and disappearing Nazi generals to buff bulky flamethrower-wielding zombies.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War doesn't stray far from its Sniper Elite roots. The shooting feels snappy, and watching one bullet go through two or three zombies is extremely satisfying. However, there are a few downfalls to adapting a Sniper Elite into a zombie-centric title. The game relentlessly throws hordes of undead Nazis at you, and sniper rifles are mostly made for long-distance combat. The rate at which you shoot and reload is far below the speed at which they get resurrected and come straight at you. You will find yourself using the secondary weapon most of the time, especially the Thompson submachine gun. At least that's what I used for the vast majority of my playthrough.
This is where another shortcoming for Zombie Army 4: Dead War becomes clear. The variety of weapons feels underwhelming, with six weapons total split evenly between primary and secondary. You can upgrade each weapon with parts that accentuate one of three aspects; magazine size, reload speed, and damage. The upgrades don't change the gun visually, but you'll certainly notice the improvements. However, the game doesn't make it entirely clear how to obtain these upgrade packs regularly. I managed to coincidentally get one now and then without understanding what I did.
Every player's playstyle is different, and the perk slot in your loadout will aid you in playing the way you like. These give different boosts to help you during your battle against the zombies, ranging from offensive and defensive to even just passive perks like stamina and health regeneration. They unlock and upgrade up to tier three once you complete certain objectives during chapters. These include actions like ending a chapter without depleting more than half your stamina, avoiding to drop more than half your health, killing several zombies with explosives, and more.
The simplest way to defeat the masses of zombies roaming the Earth is to team up. This is exactly what Zombie Army 4: Dead War's co-op and multiplayer modes bring to the table. The multiplayer matches you up with up to three more players to clear waves of zombies. Diverse loadouts allow for a unique and complementary team composition, where certain perks can help out your colleagues or give you enough advantage to power through the hordes. However, as of the time of writing, the servers were extremely unstable. The latter accompanied by latency issues and ping drops didn't allow for the smoothest experience, but when things stabilize, it is a completely different story.
Outside of the occasional performance stutters and bugs when the screen is overloaded with enemies, the title manages to maintain a steady framerate and a smooth experience. Graphically, Zombie Army 4: Dead War is pleasant to look at, with the considerable visual difference between enemy types and scenery as mentioned.
Rebellion's standalone sequel is a worthy entry to their world of Nazi zombies, blessing the genre with the amazing X-ray kill cam. This is a title for anyone who loves the Sniper Elite franchise or fond of Call of Duty's famous Zombies mode but wants to play it along with a storyline.
TechRaptor previewed Zombie Army 4: Dead War on PlayStation 4 using a code provided by the publisher. The game is also available on Xbox One and PC via Epic Games Store.
- Compelling Storyline
- Extremely Satisfying Gunplay
- Unique Perks and Upgrade Mechanics
- Fun Multiplayer and Co-Op
- Lack of Weapon Variety
- Occasional Bugs and Glitches
- Severe Connectivity Issues