There are no two enemies video game developers love more than Nazis and zombies. It seems like an absurd concept, but taking the two most universally hated evils in the gaming world and turning them into one has been a smash hit with gamers since the concept first appeared in Call of Duty: World at War. You could say it was a no-brainer. (I’m sorry. This concludes my zombie-related humor for the remainder of the review.)
Taking the worst of humanity and adding a supernatural element to it somehow made destroying Nazis that much more satisfying. While the idea of Nazi zombies has become a staple in the gaming world, no developer has taken the idea quite as far as Rebellion.
A spinoff of their critically acclaimed Sniper Elite series, the Zombie Army franchise has become a force in its own right, and with their latest entry in Zombie Army 4: Dead War, putting Nazis back in the ground has never been so much fun.
The third-person gunplay feels like a cross between a World War II shooter and Dead Rising. It has all the thrills of cutting down hordes of the undead while somehow feeling grounded in the insane reality Rebellion has created. The reanimated thrall starts off harmlessly enough. There are a few staggering zombies creeping toward you, and with your high-powered rifle, shotgun, SMG or other weapon of choice, they’re really no threat to you.
Then there are more of them. Then they move faster. Then they have guns. Then there’s one with a flamethrower. Then there are the sniper zombies that can literally fly from rooftop to rooftop and — well, you get the idea. These aren’t your typically deadbeat zombies. (I lied about not making more zombie jokes.)
To counter the surprisingly sophisticated horde, Zombie Army 4 gives players a wealth of destructive tools and upgrades to make surviving a little more manageable. Mines, hand grenades, electrified ammunition and the ability to slow down time while aiming are just a handful of the different customization options the game offers.
Additionally, each character comes with their own strengths and weaknesses, so you can pick and choose combinations of skills, weaponry and upgrades that suit your playstyle best. That also makes experimenting with different loadouts a blast while encouraging different tactics, which has a huge impact in multiplayer.
With up to four-player co-op, Zombie Army 4 allows players to take full advantage of the build variety and assume different roles within their squad. With its over-the-top story and massive horde mode, plus a ton of DLC on the way, there’s tremendous replay value here.
In addition to its great gameplay, Zombie Army 4 creates an atmosphere with the perfect balance of creepiness without taking itself too seriously. The tension and threat of another swarm of zombies ready to come at you any minute keeps the pressure on, but there are also moments of unnerving comedy, such as the possessed typewriters that keep printing out horror messages. Then there are the creepy dolls that appear in the most ridiculous places, accompanied by equally eerie music.
The audio does a good job keeping up the atmosphere, too. The guns sound great, and the different zombies all have their own distinct sound effects to let you know what you’re dealing with before you see them. That’s particularly helpful when there are snipers around because they’re real deadeyes. (Last zombie joke, I swear.)
With its excellent gameplay, massive replay ability and terrific atmosphere, Zombie Army 4: Dead War is the perfect game if you’re looking a shooter that’s just a little bit different. And when it comes to multiplayer, co-op shooters, this is unquestionably one of the most fun out there right now.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War earns 4 GiN Gems out of 5.