Zombie Army Trilogy (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gareth F 05.04.2015

Review for Zombie Army Trilogy on PlayStation 4

The only real difference between a regular zombie and a Nazi zombie is the uniform, so what makes history's eternal bad guys such a fearsome recurring theme in modern entertainment? Would a legion of undead nurses or traffic wardens staggering over the horizon strike as much fear into the heart of the public? Well ... the jury's still out on that one but the zombie affliction is a great leveller, so it's safe to assume that the skull contents of anybody foolhardy enough to keep company with the undead would be in jeopardy, irrespective of the shambling corpse(s) apparel or ideology.

Given the slew of videogames that involve either squaring up to the Nazi menace or taking on hordes of reanimated rotters, it was only going to be a matter of time before the two got shoe-horned together to cultivate a new sub-genre. While Wolfenstein openly drew inspiration from the murky links between the Nazi theology and the occult, Treyarch was the first to go 'full-zombie' with a bonus co-operative mode for Call of Duty that became immensely popular. Now, Rebellion has set loose the standalone Zombie Army Trilogy in the general direction of the PS4, which polishes up two Sniper Elite V2 expansion packs that were previously only available on the PC and adds a third, totally new, chapter to round off a triple-whammy of third-person restless Nazi-slaying goodness.

First off, it's probably worth mentioning that any players looking for a complex multi-layered narrative running the full gamut of emotions involving masterful storytelling, strong character development, loss, redemption and, of course, Nazi Zombies will be pleased to hear the good news is that at least one of those boxes is ticked. Joking aside, a short cut-scene in a bombed out bunker showing a seemingly desperate Hitler telling the assembled generals that it's finally time to execute 'Plan Z' is as deep as Zombie Army Trilogy gets story-wise. Of course, people don't need an excuse to shoot zombies as it's good, clean fun, but Rebellion's tongue-in-cheek attempt at an explanation for the lifeless shuffling throng asserts a B-movie / Grindhouse vibe on proceedings right from the get-go that's spread liberally throughout the package.

Those fresh off the back of playing Sniper Elite III will miss the large open sandbox levels, the ability to mark enemies from a distance, and the satisfying stealth mechanic that made sneaking around such fun, but with an enemy that could be considered slightly less than aware, this really isn't a issue. The linear level design, which will be somewhat familiar to Sniper Elite V2 fans, has numerous choke points or areas where players will remain under siege for a sustained attack, which helps create an unrelenting sense of claustrophobia. All three campaigns are propelled forward over a variety of locations set in a war-torn Berlin, with the main objective of finding a way to put an end to the undead epidemic via the collection of numerous relics. Players will see themselves battle through the likes of factories, rail yards and underground facilities with chapter titles given comedic sinister names such as 'Freight train of Fear,' 'Subway to Hell,' or - a personal favourite - 'Library of Evil.'

Screenshot for Zombie Army Trilogy on PlayStation 4

It's fair to say that Rebellion has drawn some influence from the Left 4 Dead series as a number of parallels can be drawn when comparing the two. Both games can include (up to) four protagonists playing co-operatively, as well as both making use of safe houses as intermittent checkpoints. Another move that seemingly apes Valve's undead opus sees the introduction of tasks that will crop up during the course of a game and will need completing successfully to ensure progress. A good example of that occurs towards the end of the 'Labyrinth of Death' chapter where players will have to collect a number of petrol cans that have been scattered all around the map so that the empty fuel tank of the escape vehicle can be filled.

While Left 4 Dead favoured the high speed '28 Days Later' zombie variety, Rebellion instead opted for the old school 'Romero' that stagger ominously from every direction. Indeed, what these walkers lack in pace is compensated in sheer volume, sprouting out of the ground at an alarming rate in full regalia, clutching a weapon and pre-set to 'bludgeon mode.' There's the classic shuffler with a walk just erratic enough to make aiming tricky, the self-resurrecting zombie that keeps popping up for more, the kamikaze that runs screaming at high pace, clutching a live hand grenade, and the brutish heavy that can absorb a ridiculous amount of bullets while relentlessly maintaining pursuit until a number of headshots hit home. The zombie snipers that occasionally show up have somehow gained the ability of flight (yes, flight) and will use it to flit rapidly from rooftop to rooftop, making a nuisance of themselves until taken down. As if that wasn't enough, the player will also face chainsaw-wielding zombies, waves of re-animated skeletons, boss battles in the shape of well shielded Generals, and, last but not least, a showdown against an undead version of Hitler himself.

Screenshot for Zombie Army Trilogy on PlayStation 4

If popular TV shows like 'The Walking Dead' are to be believed, then the most efficient way of putting a zombie out of its oblivious misery is with a shot to the head, which makes this Sniper Elite spin-off the perfect fit, given its emphasis on marksmanship. The delightfully gruesome X-ray killcam is back in all its slow motion glory, tracking the bullet from point of ignition to bone crunching conclusion, although it's understandably reined in a bit when playing online multiplayer matches. There will be frequent occasions where the action gets a little too close for comfort, so the ability to toggle the rifle scope on or off is a massive boon, as is the addition of a kick / melee button, which is ideal for finishing off any nearby stragglers.

Thankfully, it's not all about the sniping, as other weapons such as handguns, shotguns, Panzerfausts, and automatic rifles all prove to be essential for the times the action gets a bit more close quarters. Ammunition and ordnance is usually picked up at the safe houses, which besides giving brief respite from the action also offer up the opportunity to change weapon load out if so desired. Should supplies start to dwindle during the heat of the battle, there is usually an ammo cache hidden somewhere nearby but searching downed Nazis will more often than not yield positive results. A selection of mines, tripwires, grenades and dynamite can all be deployed to aid progress, and careful planning can actually set off impressive chain reactions, taking down a big chunk of the zombie horde in one fell swoop.

Screenshot for Zombie Army Trilogy on PlayStation 4

Each campaign episode is split into five lengthy chapters, which in turn are broken down into four or five safe houses, meaning that solo zombie hunters have a long, slow haul ahead of them, which is hindered further by the occasionally unfriendly checkpoint system. The absence of a collaborator to revive the lone wolf when downed only goes to illustrate that this game has clearly been designed with co-operative multiplayer in mind, so it's a good job that Rebellion has thrown in a matchmaking system to make finding suitable allies a doddle. That said, there are a couple of minor gripes, as the only way to play with a friend is by inviting them into a private match, which potentially leaves a pair of empty slots open that can't be filled via traditional matchmaking.

It also seems a slight oversight to not allow continuation from a previously reached safe house during a single online session as, speaking from experience, all the progress made by a team working together on one chapter was lost when one member's Internet connection conked out shortly after arriving at the third safe house. After making it through a couple of lengthy sieges, nobody was in the mood to replay it from the start of the chapter all over again. The Quick Play option does at least allow for drop-in / drop-out multiplayer with the matchmaking and netcode working faultlessly and lag-free without problem, so it is shame that a friend can't be invited into THAT lobby before finding a match. The scoring system with online leader boards adds a slight competitive element to proceedings and a bonus multiplier is rewarded by successfully chaining kills / headshots together, which increases with each successive hit, ending only when a shot is missed. The campaign will likely get the most usage from regular punters, however, that's not to discredit the stressful Horde mode that involves defending an area and surviving as long as possible against increasingly larger waves of the enemy. Fans of Treyarch's Nazi zombie modes should feel right at home here.

Screenshot for Zombie Army Trilogy on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

While there's still some mindless, if slightly repetitive, fun to be had for the solo participant, Zombie Army Trilogy really shines as a multiplayer experience and does a great job of filling the 'Left 4 Dead'-shaped hole on the current consoles. It's not doing anything particularly innovative, yet the satisfying shooting mechanic, coupled with the ever grisly X-ray killcam makes it a great game to revisit when not in the mood for something more cerebral.

Developer

Rebellion

Publisher

Rebellion

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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