The first three games in the Zombie Army franchise barely registered on anyone’s radar. Now, like one of the titular zombies, Zombie Army 4: Dead War has come out of nowhere to lunge at your throat (or at least, at your wallet).
The result is a fun and stylish game that does its best to make zombies seem fresh again. And while it doesn’t entirely succeed, the game provides a unique gameplay experience that is perfect for you and a friend to enjoy together.
Are you wondering where the hell the other Zombie Army games went? You’re not alone.
The games were originally spinoffs of the Sniper Elite games. The first two Zombie War games were originally exclusive to PC. Later, those two games were bundled with a new game as Zombie Army Trilogy in 2015, and it was available on Windows, PS4, and Xbox One.
Long story short? Zombie Army 4: Dead War is likely to be the first entry in the franchise that curious players play. Fortunately, this is the most polished version of this game that developer Rebellion has ever created.
While Zombie Army 4 is unique in many respects, it shares something important in common with games like Wolfenstein: Youngblood. Specifically, this game is a lot more fun if you have a buddy (or three).
It’s true that any shooter is more fun with a friend. But what pushes this game over the edge is the ability to compete with your buddies on points and sometimes “accidentally” sabotage their efforts.
You are racing for points to help gain XP and boost your character (more on this in a bit). And you must also be careful not to walk into traps set by other players. While they are here to help you kill zombies in a funny way, the real hilarity of the traps is watching your friends walk into them.
The game’s customizability options also make it friendly for multiple players. These range from fun cosmetic changes to different weapons to facilitate different playstyles. That brings the fun (and challenge) of creating a balanced team to a genre that mostly just focuses on rote “run and gun.”
Nostalgia Within Nostalgia
Do you like a bit of nostalgia with your games? Zombie Army 4 is doing a kind of “nostalgia inception,” bringing its love of the past to some seriously wacky levels.
The first layer of nostalgia comes from its World War II influence. You aren’t just fighting zombies, but you are fighting Nazi zombies. The game goes so far as to throw a horde of zombie Hitlers at you in a fairly climactic moment.
At the same time, this is an alternative reality to our own (the whole “zombie Hitler” thing was probably your first clue). So even for WWII buffs, there are quite a few surprises here.
The second layer of nostalgia comes from the game’s clear love of the 1980s. The loading screens are all movie posters for fake films. Look closely and you can see the influence of ’80s monster movies on each one.
You also hear a lot (and I mean a lot) of synth music in this game. In another era, that may have been a weird choice, but I like to think Stranger Things has made synth cool again.
It may already be clear, but I’ll go ahead and say it: this is not a game that takes itself too seriously.
Each level is about throwing increasingly over-the-top enemies at you and you finding increasingly insane ways to dispose of them. And while you might think the game “jumps the shark” when you are literally feeding zombies to undead sharks, the wacky adventure is just beginning.
Basically, if you liked Shaun of the Dead more than Dawn of the Dead, this game is for you.
Aside from the fun factor, you have a special incentive to creatively kill zombies. That’s because doing so is crucial to leveling up your character.
When you complete a level, you get XP based on your performance. This mostly comes from kill multipliers and kill-based challenges that you complete, though you also get XP boosts from discovering secret treasure.
This system organically encourages you to throw yourself into your role as a zombie slayer. It increases replay value and adds a nice competitive edge to your co-op adventures.
Plenty of Variety
The downfall of many zombie games is that they eventually become like the zombies. That is, endlessly repetitive!
Zombie Army 4 does a good job of fighting this by changing things up pretty frequently. You’ll fight zombies on boats, on the streets, and even dropping from the sky. And the game’s insane array of weapons and traps (along with the XP system) encourage you to make even basic levels into memorable massacres.
Zombie Kill of the Week
In Zombieland, the characters like to joke about “Zombie Kill of the Week,” a way for them to challenge each other when it comes to creatively disposing of the undead.
While the game doesn’t use that term, Zombie Army 4 certainly brings that same vibe. In addition to the traps (which let you feed zombies into things like engines and sharks), the game’s kill-cam helps you see just how brutal a well-placed shot can be.
While a kill-cam is not exactly a revolutionary addition to this shooter, it’s just one more way the game keeps the kills from getting boring.
Is Zombie Army 4: Dead War worth your time? As long as you like shooters or the zombie genre, the answer is definitely “yes.”
If you don’t like shooters or zombies, though, this won’t be the game that wins you over. For everyone else, though, this is a surprisingly fresh take on a genre all of us thought was dead and buried.