The war is ending. Nazi Germany is all but defeated as the Allies surround Berlin from all sides. Surrender is the only sensible option but Adolph Hitler is not a sensible man and when surrender is suggested, he shoots that advisor dead. Instead Adolph Hitler unleashes hell onto his enemies, summoning up the dead to be his army.
That is the, rather familiar, set-up to Rebellion’s latest release, Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army. While it bears the moniker of the Sniper Elite series, Nazi Zombie Army is more akin to Left 4 Dead type game than a stealthy sniping title. This is because Nazi Zombie Army has been designed from the ground up as a four-player cooperative title.
You and three of your closest friends or random internet strangers, depending upon if you have friends or not, are tasked with making your way through five chapters fighting the undead and unraveling the mystery of the spectral general. To be honest, I added in the last bit to give the game a bit of flair. The game really only offers up a few minutes worth of story over the course of its six to eight hour campaign, but considering the narratives of most first person shooters that isn’t really a bad thing.
That loose framework allows players to create their own story. Why are you, an American soldier, running around Nazi Germany fighting zombies? Answer it however you like, just aim for the head.
Nazi Zombie Army borrows heavily from the Left 4 Dead formula. Players will make their way from point to point with some simple objectives thrown in, complete with safe houses. At the beginning those objectives are generally just survive an onslaught but as the game progresses, there will be particular items to collect so other areas can be accessed. It all still does boil down to survive but the exploration adds an extra element to the standard shoot, shoot, shoot gameplay.
Thankfully though, the shooting is pretty good. Sticking to its sniper roots, Nazi Zombie Army, every player is equipped with a scoped rifle and the game is at its best when you are using one from range. Some of the most satisfying moments in the game come from steadying yourself, lining up your shot from 100+ meters out and nailing a headshot. And you will know when you nail it because time will slow down and you’ll go on a ride with the bullet as it leaves the barrel of your gun until it connects X-Ray vision style with the head.
Playing with other firearms in the game though is a bit hit or miss. Machine guns are good for swarms up close but are wild and inaccurate, while pistols, obviously, lack range but pack a punch and work great in hallways. The most fun though is using the special equipment. Grenades, land mines, dynamite and trip wire, all make for some explosive fun. And setting up a defensive strategy that involves blowing zombies sky high is a blast.
What isn’t a blasts is the “special” zombies. What makes zombies terrifying is huge numbers of them relentlessly pursuing your brains while your ammo supply quickly dwindles to nothing. However instead of designing the game around making your situation hopeless, developers of these games always feel the need to add something “special” in. In Nazi Zombie Army’s case, it is the inclusion of “special” Nazi zombie soldiers.
There are three types of these not-so-special attackers. The first is a suicide bomber that glows orange and when he gets close enough sticks a grenade in his mouth and explodes. The second is a brutish, machine gun wielding behemoth. This one shows up as a sub-boss from time to time and generally makes life miserable for players. He isn’t necessarily difficult, he’s just annoying. The final one is the Nazi zombie sniper and while he is the most fun to match wits against, battles against them generally play out exactly the same way every time, kill the ground attackers by running amongst them and then worry about the rooftops. None however are as disappointing as the spectral general, whom you will fight twice in exactly the same fashion. The various stages of attacks and vulnerability is old school boss design at its worst.
Complaints about “special” zombies, its rather generic premise and blatant mimicking of Left 4 Dead aside, Nazi Zombie Army held my interest for a solid eight hours. Sometimes shooting things in the most brainless of fashions is what you need and for the budget price Rebellion is offering the title at, zombie shooter fans have little reason to not give it a go.
Review Note: Review completed with a publisher supplied copy of the game.