Zombie Army 4: Dead War, The Bromance Review
Reviewed on Sony PlayStation 4Also available on Microsoft Xbox One and PC
A good friend of mine, Dan Phillips, who also writes for The Digital Fix asked me if I was reviewing Zombie Army 4. My first answer was no, then being the needy lovable nerd he is, he managed to persuade me to put my name down for it. I had never played the series before so it should be fun, right? My thoughts for this review are in normal text and Dan's are in italic.
After playing Borderlands 3 from the first bullet to the last trophy with Seb, I really thought he would be up for another foray into madness. I really didn’t want to be reviewing this without my wingman.
All was looking well until he messaged me to say that he was no longer getting a code for the game and I was left with a game I was not originally down to review. Friends eh? Who would have them? Luckily, due to the game being co-op, I ended up with two codes, donated one to Dan and we could bromance our way through piles and piles of zombie corpses.
I was gutted when I couldn’t get a code. These things happen though and I hold no ill remorse against the developer. Codes are limited, and I respect they are not free confetti you can just throw away. When Seb told me he had an extra code, I felt like the cat from Alice in Wonderland. The Bromance continues with mass-murdering zombies on the agenda
So, knowing nothing about the game I ploughed into the campaign while I was waiting for Dan, he is always late for everything. He had played the game before and I did not want to be lagging behind. Especially not against Dan, I wanted to hit the ground running. Probably running away from zombies but running nonetheless.
Late I am, but ready? Always. I love the Zombie Army series and that came from the admiration of the Sniper Elite world. To see the ‘other’ side of this world really intrigues me and seeing the game develop and move forward from its earlier iterations just keeps me hooked. I was surprised when Seb told me he hadn’t touched the series before, it’s so, so good.
When we finally jumped into the campaign together, which I had to repeat the opening sequence again with Dan, we had a good laugh. Dan and I play co-op games together regularly and the conversation normally revolves around football, games or boring real life. Well, in between his incessant singing or screaming anyway. We chatted, killed zombies and especially after the day one patch, Zombie Army 4 was a fun game to experience with a friend.
Very much so! After playing the game a bit before hooking up with Seb, I already had a few experiences on what was happening (it was so hard not to spoil it for him). We cracked on and were both aware the game at the time was awaiting a Day 1 patch and it certainly felt a little rough around the edges. Luckily subsequent games after the day one patch made the controls and framerate a lot smoother and the experience was much more enjoyable.
Having no experience with the series, my thoughts will be restricted to this game only. Dan, however, can offer insight into the games predecessors and the game differences from them. Zombie Army 4 plays over ten levels, split into chapters and each one has story segments, collectables and challenges to complete.
This time around Zombie Army 4 allows more of the undead on your screens with bigger, uglier and more intense zombies. An expanded campaign that feels like it lasts for hours with an unlimited amount of The Furhers undead army all up in your face. It is such a great improvement to the series.
We enjoyed scouring each area for the collectables, we are both completionists and up to the point where other players joined our game, we took our time and got all the collectable goodies. Even those creepy severed moving hands, which were sometimes very irksome to find. There was banter, collectable searching and zombie massacre, what's not to like on a cold British evening?
Oh, I do love having something to find while playing the main campaign. I am like a magpie looking for the next shiny thing, I will just tend to wander off from Seb and check every crack and cranny to find those hidden collectables. By the time I have searched an area, Seb has done the same and is on the other side of the map. This is normal when we Co-op, however, the games we normally double up on never have thousands of zombies between me and him. Fun times.
The options you have when mowing down hordes of the undead are vast. There are a plethora of zombie killing characters, implements, weapons and traps at your disposal with upgrades and bonuses for each. I especially loved the traps littering each stage, watching zombies getting chopped into bits by propellor blades never gets old, right?
'I LOVED THE TRAPS'. They are a lovely little touch when you have waves of undead on the march. Adding the odd usual equipment piece to your inventory to cover a different angle always goes a long way. There seems to be a different grenade for every kind of enemy and when you see that sweet lob of said grenade land in the middle of a crowd of zombies, BOOM! Limbs flying everywhere, so many sweet moments and lots of shouted congratulations from Seb.
Throughout the game, you are faced with differing levels of zombie warfare. From suicide zombies to flamethrower zombies, there are lots of zombies, like thousands of the shifty buggers. All in all, each level consists of kill everything, follow the linear path, kill more stuff and maybe activate some things. It's fun but very simplistic and that is not necessarily a bad thing. I certainly enjoyed it anyway.
Agreed, the complexity of what your objective is and how will you complete it while trying to pass each zombie wave made it very enjoyable. I mean, dying to a falling zombie from the skies above which ultimately turns you into a zombie did make me chuckle a fair bit. Zombie Army is always adapting and changing as you progress through the campaign.
My favourite feature by far is the kill combo mechanic. Every time you kill a zombie your combo goes up multiplying your current killing run score. If you miss or take too long your combo may get reset and then that spree of zombie slaughter gets added to your overall score. It was really addictive trying to get a high a combo as possible and trying to better Dan's score. It was successful sometimes but not others. The game also has that 'Sniper Elite' style slo-mo bullet cam, which is fun and rewarding when you pull off an immeasurable shot.
It is normal for me and Seb to go up against each other when playing together. Friendly rivalry always makes games more fun to play. When Seb told me he racked up the 100x combo and unlocked a perk, I was gutted. This was my game I invited him to, how dare he! The unlockable perks are another feature that can certainly help cull those zombie hordes. There are plenty to choose from in your arsenal and with this and the upgrading of your weapons as you play on through the campaign, you really do see your progression and development coming along.
With Zombie Army 4 being co-op there are a wealth of usual co-op features. Lobbies, chat, different modes, the usual stuff. You can revive each other, heal each other and teamwork is the key to success or failure. Some of my best moments were when Dan was under the cosh, screaming that he was going to die or me doing the same and Dan sprinting to my rescue. It is moments like these that make co-op games entertaining and Zombie Army 4 is no different in that aspect.
Friendly rivalry and completionist behaviour can sometimes lead to recklessness. In this case, I was carelessly jumping in the middle of too many enemies. I thought to myself, I can take these enemies alone and I have never been more wrong. As Seb said, teamwork is key when you have that many enemies around you. You can do it alone playing solo, but I found it so much more fun with someone else and a full team.
Graphically, I was playing on the PS4Pro and the visual fidelity was good. Everything was clear and sharp enough and quite pleasing on the eye. It is not the prettiest game I have ever seen but it was nice. With me having Pro I decided to choose the framerate option over the resolution option and the game ran very smoothly. Which is more important to me, it was very smooth, 'like butter' smooth.
Alternatively, I was playing on the original PS4. I was surprised that the game actually played OK. Pre-patch was a little rough and everything felt a bit stiff. However, once the patch was deployed, I definitely felt the difference and it really did give you a much smoother experience.
Sound-wise, Zombie Army 4, while not being amazing, was very immersive. your character shouts to other characters when finding gear. You can hear zombie voices all over the place and one of the games best features freaked me out a little, your controller talks to you if you leave it idle. Proper eerie. I just wish the music was a bit better, maybe it was me being to encompassed killing zombies but I cannot remember any of the soundtrack at all.
The zombie groaning sound became very repetitive at times and at points I ended up pointing that out to Seb with my best impression. He wasn’t a fan. The background noises are good and feel eerie which is great for a game like this. I would have loved to have some licensed rock music or a slightly comedic soundtrack as the game does deliver comedy moments at times.
All in all, we enjoyed our runs through waves and waves of zombies. We had fun, the game ran well and the banter was good. When it comes to video games, there is not a lot more you can ask for than that really.
- Fun co-op experience.
- Destroying zombies never gets old.
- It runs well and looks good.
- A bit too linear.
- Can get repetative in long play sessions.
- Could do with better, more immersive music.