Zombie Army Trilogy Review
Microsoft Xbox OneAlso available on PC and Sony PlayStation 4
It’s late on in the second world war, Hitler is being pushed back on all sides desperately scrambling to maintain key strategic points on the European map. Things are desperate and it is looking like the allies may win the war, so what is Hitler’s next move?! Well naturally the obvious thing to do would be to employ a team of super scientists to develop a new breed of zombies to aid him in his battle against the allies. This is where you and up to three friends come in, to form an elite allied unit (or fly solo) whose mission is to wipe out the zombie horde, find the source and destroy this evil once and for all.
The Sniper Elite series has a long, solid history on all of the main platforms, namely PC and later Xbox 360 & PS3, and the zombie spin-off titles are literal B-movie style side stories which utilise the engine, quite a few of the graphical assets and of course copious amounts of bonkers long range bone crunching headshots to excite and delight in equal measure. The first two installments all utilise the Sniper Elite V2 engine and the new third installment brings with it a graphical upgrade, a handful of new features and a new wave based horde mode, the latter not being much of a stretch as the game is effectively one big horde mode strewn across a series of small maps / areas. For a spin-off series it’s done rather well, with its correctly pitched low price tag, a plethora of content and those always hilarious slow mo impact sniping shots - in fact both original games sit firmly in the six or seven out of ten territory, and for the cost of entry, that’s value.
So here we have it, a new all in one Zombie Army Trilogy pack, released in a relatively quiet time of the year, all nice and shiny for the Xbox One and PS4. To their credit Rebellion have pulled a bit of a blinder with not only a huge amount of content, but a solid price tag given the overall quality and longevity of the titles (more on that later) and releasing at a time when this new gen of consoles is lacking anything really worth playing; for many the console of the moment is the Wii U, so now is a good time to get the most sales.
The core gameplay found within all of the chapters as well as the horde mode is very straightforward, even more so if you have ever played one of the Sniper Elite games. Move from one area to the next equipped with...you guessed it, a sniper rifle along with a secondary weapon like a double barrel shotgun. Upon entering an area you usually either need to clear it or defend it, often both one after another. The campaign gameplay is effectively a series of horde modes sewn together with a rag tag story layered over the top, which in fact is so lightweight that when a cut scene begins you are very much taken aback by the fact the game has a story - you will no doubt have long forgotten by the time the one rolls.
One of the main reasons to get onboard with Zombie Army Trilogy is the robust four-player online co-op experience that it offers for that aforementioned low cost of entry. It’s a perfect Friday night game with your mates - Crack open a beer, grab a pizza and shoot Hitler’s henchman in the face for a few hours, now that is entertainment. The co-op itself is for the most part smooth, setting up a game works first time, connecting with randoms or friends also seems perfectly executed and robust. In game, things hold up for the most part but it isn’t plain sailing - hit detection can get a little fuzzy and it’s difficult to tell if this is a lag issue or just the game, but it does seem more prominent online and there is a definite increase in the probability of at least one of your party glitching in some way, shape or form (usually at the worst possible moment) during a mission. Annoying, yes, but all this does is just show a lack of polish to the package rather than detract from the whole experience and bring it down.
The package is however weighed down by some key negatives, no deal breakers but they add up. The environments lack variety and the graphics generally, particularly for the first two chapters, are best described as janky - think original Dead Island if you have never played Sniper Elite and have no clear frame of reference. The re-masters are alright with the third installment being the one that excels but overall it’s fairly middle of the road. That said though, the one shining light is the always ridiculous up close bone-breaking sniper shots we touched upon early - whilst the package does get a little bit old the more you play due to its lack of variety, that never seems to.
The weaponry on offer lacks variety, offering a handful of rifles, shotguns and some auto rifles, in turn the extras lack variety too, in fact there are four and they don’t change. Sure they add some offensive and mainly defensive options (mines for example), plus they do serious damage but the variety isn’t there. It’s also not a game you will likely play for a month; whilst there is a hell of a lot of content on offer, it’s really quite a difficult solo experience, hell it’s even hard work with four of you and full ammo! There is also very little replay value other than beating other gamers’ headshot scores on the leaderboard, so once you have completed the “story” you move across to the Horde mode which is basically the story missions with slightly tweaked areas (mainly item placement) minus the running in between. As a result there is a wealth of content and getting through it will be tough but whether you will want to return in a month isn’t so clear.
The thing is for all its faults, it’s such a good laugh with a group of four. Co-op is always a hoot and Zombie Army Trilogy proves that your game doesn’t have to be a massive triple AAA, technically breathtaking piece of pseudo art to be a success. Sure it is rough around the edges, although less than it used to be on the PC and of course the gameplay along with the environments will get a little tiring after a while, but Rebellion seem to get this and have priced accordingly. For at most, £24.99 (UK RRP), you are getting Nazi zombies, slow mo sniping, bone-breaking impact close ups, robust four-player co-op, some Horde modes and to top it all off you get to shoot Hitler in the nads. No masterpiece then, but perfect Friday night entertainment.