Time to face the undead goosestepping horde once again.
Nazi zombies…if there has ever been anything that’s stuck around in popular culture, it’s Nazi zombies. With games like Call of Duty featuring an entire game mode around the goose-stepping hordes and also a movie called Dead Snow, it’s hard to avoid them. Love them or hate them they’re here to stay and Rebellion has seen fit to bring out another entry into their Nazi Killing Franchise in the form of Zombie Army 4: The Dead War.
Game Name: Zombie Army 4
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), Xbox One, PS4
Publisher(s): Rebellion Developments
Developer(s): Rebellion Developments
Release Date: February 4th, 2020
Price: £40/ $50
I often put the Zombie Army games into the same category as Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, it’s a game created under the circumstances where the developers had just finished making their latest and greatest in the franchise and now they have this engine and useable assets lying around, so why not do something with it right? It’s always nice to see projects like this where devs get the chance to play around, and quite often under these circumstances you can get something that’s just fun – nothing more or nothing less.
One thing I’ve always enjoyed about the Zombie Army games is that they are the ultimate unwind game, you hop on them, turn your brain off and just enjoy yourself. While the games all feature a story mode, you’ll find that they all run along the same lines of a cheesy B movie plot because at the end of the day, it’s Nazi Zombies. You’re not exactly going to wring out Shakespeare from material like that so I appreciate that Rebellion understands this and take a more relaxed approach to these games. They don’t want you to read into this series too much, they just want you to have fun.
Of course with a game built around the simple task of mowing down hordes of zombies you always run the risk of your game becoming tedious, to Rebellion’s credit, there aren’t many moments in Zombie Army 4 that can be called a slog but they are there. There’s the typical “defend this position from 5 waves of enemies” section for example that I doubt anyone really enjoys.
Zombie Army 4 is basically Sniper Elite 4 with Zombies so the gameplay doesn’t deviate much from that formula. Depending on the difficulty, your sniper rifle is either a hyper-accurate laser or it’s subject to the whims of the weather and fate. For the most part, the Sniper Elite’s gameplay fits really well into the zombie-killing genre, the use of the slow-mo and the Xray cam really give you that visceral gore you want in a zombie game. And sniper rifles just feel good to use in this game, hardly a surprise knowing the series this game is build off but credit where credit is due, Rebellion know how to make a sniper rifle feel worth it.
In addition to your primary rifle, you also have a secondary weapon which can be either an SMG or shotgun. And finally you have your trusty sidearm for when things get desperate. In terms of weapon handling the SMGs have a ridiculous amount of recoil and the shotguns have no real punch to them, so using them over the sniper rifles seems rather pointless unless you’re surrounded, which I guess is the point.
Additionally, each weapon type has its own special ability ranging from an armour piercing round for the snipers, to speed reload and recoil control for the SMGs and shotguns. These abilities build up charge from kills performed by that weapon, so efficiency breeds success in combat. In addition to different weapon types, you have upgrades for each weapon so you can customise how you play to some extent but a large amount of the upgrades are triggered at random, so more often than not the ability will trigger when you don’t need it to and doesn’t trigger when you do need it. Sod’s law of gaming right there.
Zombie Army 4 has based its look around a steampunk style with tons of gigantic tesla coil-like structures and soot-covered cities, it’s an art style I enjoy but this game does err on the side of muddy textures and eternal night which is admittedly a disappointing choice. To compare, if you look at Sniper Elite 4 it’s very colourful and it all around looks great. While I understand that the game can’t be sunny San Celini all the time, some variety would have been an improvement. Within the story of the game, you travel all around Europe and it all just looks the same most of the time, the only distinct location I can remember of the top of my head is a zoo level that had subsections, trees in the enclosures, unique architecture, and all in all it just looked nice. There’s a part where you go to actual hell and the characters had to tell me I was in hell before I realised I wasn’t in Italy anymore.
One place Zombie Army 4 excels in the design department, is in the design of the Zombies themselves. Each type of Zombie is visually distinct and it’s pretty easy to tell from a distance which type you’re going to be facing. This is quite the feat seeing as the game is mostly covered in fog or in low light conditions. One of my personal favourites were the suiciders as the sight and sound of them will send shivers up your spine.
Sadly not everything in Zombie Army 4 is designed as well as it could be. To be blunt, the sound in this game is obnoxious at the best of times. In matches where there’s more than 1 player and the horde size is increased, all you will be able to hear is just a mess of scraping metal and zombie cries which, to be fair, is to be expected from a zombie shooting game, but there’s something about the sound of the guns in Zombie Army 4 that errs on the side of irritating after as while, maybe it’s just me. Zombie Army 4 also has the age-old problem where the voice actors are drowned out by the music of the game, I’ve never understood why at least 80% of games that come out have this basic issue, but it’s nothing that a quick trip to the settings can’t fix.
Besides the issues mentioned above, the sound design in all other areas is pretty good in this game. Every zombie has its own distinct sound, and it’s fairly easy to tell what you’re going to face with little to no thought. There is a type of zombie in this game called the “Screamer”, think the Witch from Left 4 Dead but it looks like it’s covered in cordyceps from the Last of Us. The Screamer is blind and relies on sound to track its target creating tense situations reminiscent of the Berserker levels in Gears of War. Quite often you won’t see a screamer as you’ll be rushing all around the place to get through the level, but once you step into an area with a Screamer they let out a spine-chilling scream as if to say “I’m here, so be quiet.”
At the end of the day, Zombie Army 4 is just a zombie game it doesn’t try to be more than that but it is a better effort than what you normally see. The campaign is surprisingly long and I wasn’t expecting this much content from this game, to top it off there’s more on the way with regards to seasons and events so while there currently isn’t a large community behind it, there’s enough people around to keep the the game going for the foreseeable future. I find myself jumping on for a quick game when I want to kill time or relax so there’s a place for Zombie Army 4 in everyone’s home as far as I’m concerned.
Review Disclosure Statement: [Zombie Army 4] was provided to us by Rebellion for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
Want more game reviews from The Outerhaven? Consider the following:
Zombie Army 4: The Dead War
A simple Zombie game to sit back and relax to while you split heads open like overripe watermelons, what’s not to love?
- Full of content
- Fun with friends
- Easy to chill with
- Fun gameplay
- Can be repetitive
- Poor base audio balancing
- Lacks meaningful customisation and upgrades
- Zombie Army 4: The Dead War