After running a bit late from my previous appointment with a hot tea from Starbucks (the only thing I’ve found help fend off that convention cough), I was sat at a controller with little fanfare and told to go shoot Nazi zombies. I mean, say no more. I’m all for eviscerating the literal scum of the universe, and when they are undead and coming back for more, that just gives us the chance to kill them again.
The first Zombie Army began its life as a spinoff of the Sniper Elite series, but the undead army of Nazis has taken on a whole life of its own. Where Zombie Army 4: Dead War stands out above the crowd, however, is in Rebellion’s signature slowdown animations that show how your bullet tears apart the bits of flesh, shattering bone and rupturing organs. It’s delightfully macabre in all the best ways, taking the experience of cutting down Nazi zombies to new heights.
Zombie Army 4 somehow strikes a wonderful balance of this arcadey shooter, racking up loads of points with every zombie that you maim, dismember, burn, and eviscerate, but still manages to become quite terrifying at times, feeling like a heavy and serious shooter all the same. If you need some catching up before the fourth entry (or you somehow missed the wonderful Nazi zombie killing goodness that was the original Zombie Army Trilogy), Hitler used his Plan Z to infest the world with undead Nazis, became undead himself, and then was shipped off to Hell at the end of the third game in the series. Well, now he’s back with even more Nazi zombies. There. All caught up. Don’t let that big “4” in the title scare you away. This is an easy one to pick up and understand, and it’d be a shame to miss out on it.
One of the biggest things I look for in games lately is that balance between the power fantasy and still offering some kind of a challenge to the player. Zombie Army 4 handles this admirably, weaving between moments of pure terror where you are sure you are going to fail to those times when you’ve got an excess of ammo ready to tear apart every fleshy thing that comes your way.
I got the opportunity to play on a team with two other people, and it’s even more fun with friends. The number of zombies gets cranked up, but so to do the opportunities for mayhem and devastation. Each character class brings unique skills to the table, and utilizing everyone’s strengths creates gameplay where it feels like what you do and how you play matters. Narrowly using my sniper rifle to save one of my allies became a highlight, because it’s easy to get overwhelmed quickly in Zombie Army 4. All the bullets and explosions in the world can’t help you with that one nightmare that managed to flank you and slip through your defenses. The best way to combat this is with friends.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War is the type of mindless experience that I could play for hours on end. Everyone loves shooting zombies. Everyone loves shooting Nazis. When you combine the two and add in some solid gunplay, it’s hard to put down. My hands-on experience with it at E3 was all too brief, but it made its point. Nazi zombies are coming and we need to be ready to eviscerate the horde when it gets here.