If you’re a fan of putting bullets into zombies like there’s no tomorrow, then you’ve probably played Zombie Army Trilogy. You’ll also be pleased to hear that its upcoming sequel, Zombie Army 4: Dead War, advances the series in all the right ways.
We’re big fans of Zombie Army Trilogy, but it’s not perfect. Two of the games date back to 2013 and the trilogy itself is now four years old, so it’s showing its age a little.
It was never the most consistent of compilations, either; the age of the first two games compared to the third (which was new for the trilogy) was plain to see, even upon its release in 2015. It meant that difficulty was often all over the place as it hadn’t been developed concurrently. Sniping zombie Nazis and filling them with bullets was still a hell of a lot of fun, though.
Fast forward four years, and Zombie Army 4: Dead War, the next game in the series, is just around the corner. Developer Rebellion has a fair bit more experience in the genre under its belt, too, with Sniper Elite 4 out in 2017, and the wonderful Strange Brigade last year. Not surprisingly, Zombie Army 4 feels like a mixture of all three. It’s, of course, still Zombie Army in name and essence. But there’s definitely more than a little hint of Strange Brigade in there too, especially when tackling the game in co-op.
At EGX this past weekend, Rich and I got hands-on with a demo of the game. Only 20 minutes in length, the Zombie Army 4 demo threw us into a random mission, taking us through a couple of areas and throwing a lot of dead soldiers our way to gun through. It teased a boss enemy, a hulking brute ready to tear us a new one, but sadly the demo cut off before we got to fight him.
As you’d expect from a modern Rebellion game, there’s a solid range of weapons on offer, each with upgrades available. It seems that you have a number of upgrades available to you at any one time, which can be put on different weapons, or on the same weapons. These upgrades offer things like faster reload or increased damage – nothing groundbreaking, but in the heat of the moment, they can make the difference between life and death. It seems that you’ll gain more upgrades as you play: by exploring the environment, I found one hidden, which allowed me to equip another to one of my weapons.
You also have a couple of melee attacks at your disposal, which come in handy should a shambling soldier manage to come too close. But the real joy of Zombie Army 4 is simply letting rip with your gun’s trigger, spraying bullets into a crowd of the dead. There are bonuses on offer for getting headshots and groin shots amongst other things, and of course seeing zombie limbs fly off and heads explode is just as gruesomely satisfying as ever.
New to Zombie Army 4 is the inclusion of environmental hazards. We saw them in Strange Brigade, but here they feel refined, and bloodier than ever. By shooting a switch, you can activate props in the environment to inflict damage on your rotting foes. My favourite was a aeroplane’s engine: one well-aimed shot at a switch and it activates, sucking in and grinding up any enemies in range. Just be careful if you’re playing in co-op, as your buddies aren’t invulnerable. Sorry, Rich.
The game’s environments feel somewhat familiar – after all, there are only so many ways you can show a war-torn town – but with more up-to-date graphics, exploring the rubble-ridden streets feels better than ever. The demo was limited, but it had us making our way through crashed train carriages and open areas. There seems to be a good amount of verticality to areas, allowing you to take to higher grounds to aim for crowds of zombies below – but just watch out for them appearing behind you.
It’s a no-brainer that if you enjoyed Zombie Army Trilogy or indeed any of Rebellion’s Sniper Elite games that you should be looking forward to Zombie Army 4: Dead War. While the preview was short, it whet my appetite just enough, and I’m looking forward to another solid, over-the-top bloody snipefest from Rebellion.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War is coming to PC, PS4 and Xbox One on 4th February 2020.
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