Zombie Army 4: Dead War by Rebellion is a frantic, edge-of-your-seat third person shooter. Fun in both co-op or single player modes, prepare to be overwhelmed with the sheer amount of zombies thrown at you in every chapter.
It is May 1945, World War 2 is at its end with the Nazis – and Hitler – fading quickly. Hitler, in a desperate attempt to win the war, discovers how to wake the dead. The tide turned swiftly in his favor as the Allies were destroyed throughout the world. Despite this, the remaining Allies formed a resistance and fought on, eventually creating a zombie slaying squad – of which you are part of. The squad was able to destroy Hitler, but his zombie army lived on, increasing in numbers daily. Now you must fight your way throughout the World, taking down Hell Towers, before confronting a demonized Hitler and forever ridding the world of the zombie menance.
The story is pure B movie sci-fi filler and wildly entertaining, just don’t expect any thought-provoking commentary on the war and focus on the zombie slaying.
There are four characters to choose from: Karl, Boris, Jun, and Shola. Each character has their own unique perks, but overall they all are fully capable of tackling the zombie hordes and allow the player to customize as needed for their play style.
All characters have their choice of rifle, secondary weapon, pistol, melee, perks, and mods. Players can also customize their character’s emotes, head gear, taunts, and more in hilarious ways. Jazz Hands taunts and dancing are just two of the many silly customizable options.
Starting weapon choices include: Rifle – Gewehr 43, M1 Garand, Mosin-Nagant M91/30; SMG – M30 Drilling, MP44, Thompson, Trench Gun; and Pistol – C96, M1911, Webley MKVI. There are other weapons available, but they are locked behind DLC.There are various color skins and charms that can be added to your weapons for comestic value only, most locked behind specific player levels.
Thankfully, your starting weapon choices are not locked to your character. While progressing you can switch weapons at work benches or by swapping with a dead zombie. This allows players to continuously switch up their play style or use whatever weapon may be best suited to a particular situation.
Zombie Army 4 is nine levels broken down in four or so chapters each, with each chapter normally being contained within a specific area or requiring the completion of a specific goal to advance. Sometimes it is as simple as surviving a horde, while other times you are tasked with collecting fuel for a boat, finding breakers for light switches, or taking out Hell Towers to stop the onslaught.
The various set pieces are large and detailed, all interlocking with safe rooms which serve as a base of sorts and a resting area between chapters. The game does a great job of making you feel like you are on one long journey and each area is different enough to keep the gameplay from becoming stale.
Zombie Army was created by the developers of the Sniper Elite series, and as such a lot of focus has been paid to the various weapons, particularly the sniper rifle. Despite the overwhelming odds, the sniper rifle remains your most powerful ally and when used from the right vantage points can help thin out a herd or take down powerful enemies so you can use your less powerful weapons on the easier zombie fodder.
The rifle can be used with or without a scope and, like Sniper Elite, you can go into an empty lung mode to help steady your shots and slow down time. This is particularly useful on enemies which require precise heart shots – namely generals with the ability to turn hordes of enemies into fast moving menaces.
For every ten or so kills made within a quick timeframe you gain abilities which can be used to regain health, thin out large groups, and more. It is imperative that you use these abilities and perks as often as possible to help even the odds. You also have a variety of grenades, weapon attachments – which turn ammo into incendiary rounds or electrified rounds, heavy machine guns, flamethrowers, buzzsaws, massive shotguns, trip mines, and more at your disposal. Ammo boxes are plentiful as well, so players should rarely have to worry about running out of ammo as long as you learn how to control the hordes long enough to restock without being attacked.
The sheer variety of enemies you’ll encounter is staggering. There are regular zombies, armor clad zombies, zombies wielding flamethrowers, zombies wielding heavy machine guns, butcher zombies with buzzsaws, captains which frenzy regular zombies into more aggressive forms, acid spewing zombies, suicide bomber zombies, and more. Each requires a different method of dispatching and are introduced slowly but by the final chapters you’ll be encountering most in the same battle and having to think quick on your feet. It’s exhilarating and rather than becoming overwhelming, it’s one of the game’s biggest strengths.
Thankfully after hard battles you are normally rewarded with a safe room, which gives you the option to switch out your current weapons, upgrade weapons with various upgrade kits found throughout the areas or won by completing random tasks, restock your grenades, trip mines, and medkits.
Each kill grants you XP, eventually leveling you up. As you level up various perks and abilities become available, as well as new slots for more perks. The game is meant to be played repeatedly as rewards are given out well into level 80+ and I completed the game around level 36. Completing various tasks can further upgrade perks, with each perk having its own set of goals to accomplish.
There are offensive, defensive, and basic perks. Some of the perk benefits include better health regeneration, second chance – which allows you to shoot an enemy while downed to revive, increased stamina, stronger defense, increased grenade/trap damage, the ability to use heavy weapons, increased ammo capacity, replenish health with large combos, and allowing NPCs to deal more damage.
Collectibles are strewn throughout each area, but thankfully there is a radial dial which alerts you to how many of each item are available in a given area and how many you’ve collected. You’ll want to make sure to search every corner for upgrade kits as they can make or break a fight.
If all this sounds like a lot of micromanaging, it’s not. Thanks to an easy to use upgrade system and focus on run and gun action, you never have to put more than a few seconds thought into getting set up and ready to attack the next horde of zombies.
As I ran through a destroyed Italy, snuck through a zombie infested Russia, crept through sewers on my way into Hell, and fought Hitler in an otherworldly tank, I never stopped enjoying myself. Each moment of Zombie Army 4 is pure, unadulterated fun. Mass carnage by a one man army, or up to four if you want your friends to join, makes for an immensely enjoyable 10 or so hour campaign with ridiculous replay value.
Zombie Army 4 is a great game loaded with fun action set pieces and large scale battles. If you’re a fan of the Zombie Army series or Sniper Elite but had always hoped for a more fast-paced sniper experience, I’d strongly recommend Zombie Army 4. On higher difficulties you even have to adjust for wind and distance, in case you like your sniper games having a bit of authenticity.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War is available now on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows. Special thanks to Rebellion for providing Fan Fest News with a review copy.
Richard Allen is a freelance writer and contributing editor for various publications. When he’s not writing about video games on FanFest.com you can find him on Broadway World or in Graffiti Magazine. He can be contacted via email at [email protected] or [email protected] You can visit his website at facebook.com/richardallenwrites