It is pretty crazy to think that it has been 7 years since that fortuitous week of gaming history in November of 2008 when both Call of Duty: World at War and Left 4 Dead was first released to the masses, bringing us the joys of fighting zombie hordes and introducing us to the concept of “Nazi zombies,” as if we needed more reason to kill zombies in the first place. Heck, it’s been 6 years since Left 4 Dead 2 was released in order to capitalize on how popular the whole co-operative zombie shoot’em up thing was becoming. It has been a long time since we’ve had a proper zombie co-op shooter come out, but if you’ve got that itch to scratch, then there is a new ointment on the market in the form of Zombie Army Trilogy.
Nobody is going to try to convince you that Zombie Army Trilogy is reshaping the gaming world. Neither me nor, if they are being at all realistic, the developers at Rebellions Developments. It is, however, a sort of refinement of previous games of the genre, more specifically a marriage between the ideas brought to the table by Left 4 Dead and the Call of Duty: World at War Nazi zombies mode.
However, the gist of it is this, if you were looking for a good co-operative zombie shooter that lets you spend a few hours with some friends, killing hordes of Nazi zombies in what vaguely appears to be post-war/apocalypse 40s Berlin using period weapons, then you’re in luck. This game is fun, go play it. For the rest of you who want more information, this is what this review is for!
The Zombie Army Trilogy is a remaster of the two original standalone DLCs for Sniper Elite V2 as well as the addition of a previously unreleased third chapter in the “story.” Yes, there is a story to all the madness. No, I’m not going to give you a synopsis because 1) I don’t think you care all that much, 2) Spoilers just in case you do and 3) It let’s you kill a lot of Nazi zombies, isn’t that enough?The Zombie Army Trilogy also adds in 4 new female characters for you to play as showing game developers across the world that it really isn’t that hard to do it. All around, especially if you’ve not played the original DLCs before, there’s plenty of content to chomp through.
Zombie Army Trilogy is not a complicated beast. It is built on top of Sniper Elite V2, thus you get all the pretty bells and whistles that came with that game such as well developed sniping mechanics and the really cool X-ray bullet cams you get when you make a great shot that really put Sniper Elite on the map.
You can play through the game solo if you’re a complete madman with balls of steel or play with up to 3 other players, you know if you’re a bit more normal, in an experience not too dissimilar to Left 4 Dead. Fighting through hordes of Nazi zombies, in locations you would be familiar with if you had played the vanilla Sniper Elite V2, to achieve various objectives and jumping from safe house to safe house in order to progress through the story, or die trying. There’s even a horde mode where you can test your mettle to see how many waves of zombies you can fight through.
So far it sounds like pretty conventional co-operative zombie shooter stuff. You might be asking, “well, if it’s so similar to Left 4 Dead, how can I justify shelling out $44.99, which is no small sum, for Zombie Army Trilogy?” Well, if the far superior graphics and a new setting isn’t enough to justify it for you, then how about the fact that the feel is completely different. Let me explain.
In Left 4 Dead, depending on the difficulty you’re playing on, you could be supermen. With a melee attack from the butt of your rifle, you could push off dozens of zombies trying to bite your face off. Your bullets easily killed zombies with ease, except for tanks of course. That is any and all of your weapons were extremely effective. In Zombie Army Trilogy, that isn’t the case.
First and foremost, there is no feeling of superiority in Zombie Army Trilogy. Even on the easiest difficulties, if you are careless, you will find yourself swarmed and killed in a matter of seconds. You have a kick ability, but even that won’t save you if you get surrounded as I was never able to kick more than 2 zombies simultaneously. You don’t really get a sense of fear in Left 4 Dead, but you do in Zombie Army Trilogy. From the horrifying cries of the undeadand their shrieks to their looks, the general atmosphere is more than enough to creep you out.
Another thing that really makes the feel of Zombie Army Trilogy different from its competitors is the fact that the majority of the zombies you will face are not fast zombies like in Left 4 Dead, but slower, plodding things. This, however, doesn’t lessen the challenge, nor mean that there aren’t any fast zombies, as while they might be slower, Zombie Army Trilogy zombies are capable of soaking up far more damage than their flimsy counterparts in other games. You really get the feel that they are hulking chunks of rotten flesh plotting your demise. They can lose multiple limbs, but still plod methodically at you like the unstoppable crowd of undead they actually are.
The amount of damage that even a normal zombie can soak up does lead me to a point that bothers me somewhat. While there are plenty of different weapons for you to choose from, unless you had a death-wish or really wanted to see if you were a head-shot master, you would be foolish to not utilize the Webley revolver and shotgun as your secondary weapons as opposed to all the other guns like the Thompson, Colt 1911, MP49 or PPSH41 for the simple reason that these weapons are wholly inadequate at doing meaningful damage to the undead. Even the MG42 machine gun emplacements have questionable effectiveness, which nears absurdity.
In a game where your ammunition count is extremely limited, bringing ineffective weapons to fight hundreds of zombies is just a plain bad idea. Which is all the more infuriating that they leave them in the game, as if to tease you “look at all these guns you can see and maybe even want to use, but you won’t because you’ll die!”
The game is certainly not perfect. And a prime example of this is the controls. They come by default quite clearly optimized for controller use, so if you’re playing on a keyboard, you’ll find it’s really clunky. This isn’t too big a problem until you realize that, since you don’t have too much ammunition on you and the only way to get more ammunition in between safe houses is to scavenge through the corpses of extra-deaded zombies, the fact that the game is very picky on where exactly you have to stand in order to scavenge a body makes it very annoying when you are running low on ammunition.
The game is also quite demanding graphically, for while its minimum requirements is still relatively low, if you want to play on medium settings at a frame rate that doesn’t resemble stop-motion, you’re going to need a pretty powerful machine. Also, it’s disappointing that there doesn’t seems to be any kind of way to pick and choose multiplayer games to join in the form of some lobby as your only options are to create a private game or quick match and let the servers pick one for you.
But these are small niggles. Small insignificant niggles in the face of the immense fun potential one can have with the game. Because Zombie Army Trilogy is built on top of Sniper Elite V2, you get all the goodies like land mines and trip wire mines to play with if you decide you want to get tactical. Of course, you can also throw sticks of dynamite too, but there are fewer more satisfying things than taking out 18 zombies with one grenade, especially with the knowledge that you didn’t cop out with some magical pipebomb that just attracted everything in the district, and over, to it.
The missions are more varied than those of their competitors which will add to replayability due to it not being as repetitive. The sound design, be it the music, the absolutely spine-tingling shrieks and the cracks of your guns really make the experience all that more complete.
Some people might question the replayability value of this game, but then again, it’s the same problem with all of its competitors. It was never supposed to be a game you played for hours on end, day after day. It’s a game you play with friends and have a great time.
Toss in a points system for one-upping your friends as well as difficulty levels that make sniping all that much complicated with all the wind direction and bullet drop physics to increase the challenge as you increase the difficulty really helps to make it all the more easier to come back to.
Zombie Army Trilogy won’t be winning any rewards for innovation any time soon. It will most likely not get any best game of the year awards either. It might have a few faults such as a questionable lobby system and a plethora of useless weapons, but that doesn’t stop it from being really fun to play. It’s creepy and challenging, but most importantly, just a lot of mindless zombie killing fun. It’s a title you can happily kick into your rotation of games to play with friends.
- This article was updated on March 8th, 2018