I should probably open this review with a confession. I have never played any of Rebellion’s Sniper Elite series. Although I have got V2, it currently resides in my digital pile awaiting the time that reviews, new games or soul crushingly addictive MOBA’s dont rule my gaming time.
Sadly this means, that like the other several hundred games on my pile of shame, it is unlikely to be touched at any time soon. The appeal of playing as a sniper is also lost on me as anyone who has played either first or 3rd person games with me knows I like the impact of close quarters fighting.So it was with a slight amount of trepidation that I approached Zombie Army Trilogy for reviewing.
Thankfully, that reservation was ill founded.
Zombie Army has a very simple premise. In the final days of the war, as Allied forces descended upon his bunker in Berlin’s Reich Chancellery, Hitler launched Plan Z. Utilising their study of the occult, the German forces brought about a Zombie Apocalypse to turn the tide of the war in their favour.
Swept up in the aftermath of this fateful decision, are eight playable individuals; who must now survive, investigate the source and hopefully stop the great German Zombie horde.
Gameplay is significantly more urgent than I first suspected. When faced with a mass of shambling horrors, you have the opportunity to pick your spot and line up shots with your personal choice of rifle. Alongside the standard zombie swarm are unique elite soldiers and undead who change the fight dynamic whenever they appear.
Reanimated skeletons will advance quicker than the standard undead, but can be dispatched easily with a pistol shot or a good kick in the ribs, suicide undead will spawn with a live grenade and sprint straight in your direction ullalating wildly as they charge, but one well placed shot will make them drop and explode in place. Elite heavy gunners will ponderously and methodically approach while peppering you with machine gun fire and taking a several well placed shots in order to eliminate.
Each of these enemies in varying quantities change up the dynamic of each Kill room fight sufficiently to keep things from getting too repetitive. The Kill rooms are an expected trope for this type of shooter, with ghostly fogs rising up to block you into the area in which you are now fighting. What is slightly different from other games, in my opinion, is that with relatively large kill rooms, there is a draw to restrict yourself to corridor fighting.
You see, Combat in Zombie Army Trilogy is primarily about keeping the undead at a distance. get yourself in a good area with a clear line of sight and a safe area behind you and you can take advantage of one of the most visceral and satisfying parts of Zombie Army combat. When you start taking out enemies from a distance with your rifle you can enter focus mode. This will slow time enough to pick up the perfect head shot, (or multiple simultaneously if you time it right), and start racking up kill combo’s. Get a good shot and you get the slow motion camera, as you watch your bullet spin through the air and see, in an x-ray shot, the damage you have done to each of the enemies upon its trajectory.
To maximise this satisfying mechanic I found myself actually looking for areas that reduced the kill room to a corridor of death, occasionally sprinting and shotgunning past the shambling masses to get enough range in re-position for another round of head popping, limb detaching decimation.
Thankfully, the game runs extremely smooth, with very little visual lag, and although I encountered some screen tearing throughout that did detract from the overall experience the satisfaction garnered from the action more than makes up for what is lost in the graphical fidelity.
This is punctuated by the pleasing audio, which takes its cues from zombie classics like Romero’s of the Dead series, with a haunting and emotive score that at times had leanings towards the seminal Carpenter thriller; The Thing with a foreboding rise in tempo when major horde battles began.
Solo, this journey can be aggravating and sometimes extremely drawn out at times, and co-op is where most of the enjoyment can be taken. With the increased zombie presence the focus moves away from the time dilation and slow motion kills and becomes more of a third person Left For Dead, but sadly this is by sacrificing a lot of its character, but the combat is well rounded and sufficiently crafted to maintain a level of enjoyment regardless of the change of pace.
As a lover of all Zombie media, I found a lot to love in Zombie Army Trilogy. There is a simplicity to the combat that harks back to old school shooters and dispatching waves of rampaging undead put a permanent grin on my face throughout, though an aspect of repetition does tend to weigh it down along with the level lengths. Although there are regular Safe rooms throughout, which save and mark your progress, each individual level can take quite a while to complete.
Overall, Rebellion have re-skinned Sniper Elite V3 with a fetid zombie veneer and it more than fits the purpose.
If you are a fan of zombie games, third person games, or both; Zombie Army Trilogy is a recommended buy to while away numerous hours only held back by minor graphical and pacing issues.
MLG Rating: 8/10 Format: PS4/Xbox One / PC Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Zombie Army Trilogy by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of a week on Xbox One. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.