STAFF REVIEW of Zombie Army 4: Dead War (Xbox One)

Tuesday, March 3, 2020.
by Brent Roberts

Zombie Army 4: Dead War Box art Zombie shooters have been popular for ages. Wielding weapons that unleash tremendous amounts of punishment, caution is thrown to the wind and you live and die by your ammo count. Rebellion has thrown their hat into the ring with Zombie Army 4: Dead War, and if you ever wanted a game where you literally killed everything you see, this is it. Stealth has been replaced by survival and Rebellion has decided that while killing Hitler in the Sniper Elite games was fun, killing zombie Hitler and his army of the dead would be even more so. Because why not right? Let's see if Rebellion can take a bite out of the Zombie shooter genre.

The premise of the game itself couldn't be simpler. The main hero from the Sniper Elite series returns, Karl Fairburne, and he has been called into action because of a "Plan B" that Hitler was working on; a way to raise the dead and have an unlimited army at his control. Well, in war, there's no shortage of bodies, so you can imagine the size of the army that you're up against. It’s up to you to go back into the fight and this time, kill Hitler... umm... again. I guess make him more dead this time. If we are honest with each other though, playing this game for the story makes as much sense as having a screen door as your boat hull.

That story will carry you through vast, detailed terrains that follow a basic formula, to create chokepoints and force action upon you. It sets the pace of the game well and allows you to have moments when you can catch your breath and reload. While you navigate these sandbox levels you'll come face to face with some of the most incredible undead enemies you've ever faced. Hitler wasn't playing around, and because this game doesn't take itself too seriously you can expect some insane, over the top moments. Sure, you have your basic walking zombie, but this is Zombie Army 4 and it's time to go big. Ever face a colossal zombie great white shark? What if you had a zombie tank coming after you? If you want to survive you have to balance your stamina and utilize your environment to your benefit.

The environment itself is unique throughout the levels. With a wide-open sandbox at your disposal you have many paths before you. Each level provides it's unique "feel" and that really helped break up the monotony of go here, shoot everything and repeat. Also, I was a big fan of the lighting effects in the game and yes, being a zombie game doesn't mean bright and colorful, but what is done with fire and the light sources is done brilliantly. The levels do look amazing, but at the same time, provide some shortcomings. For example, they are done with such detail that there were some incredibly creepy moments right from the start. However, on the negative side, there are graphical glitches sometimes with the kill cam along with the environment itself. None of the glitches were anything that became game breaking, but even though there were some negative ones, there were some weird ones as well.

There was a typewriter that was sitting in a room that had debris in it and I could interact with it, so I did and the type writer prints up a message on a blank page that says "They want to play with you..." and then the paper goes back into the typewriter. I interact with it again and it says "HAHAHAHAHA...". I repeat the process and this time the message says "Don't look behind you...". So of course, I do and there's 6 Anabelle-like dolls with a pentagram in blood on the wall behind them and they screamed so loud it almost made my ears hurt before they vanished. I went back to the typewriter and it kept giving me different messages (over 20) but no repeat of the dolls. This level of detail is amazing to experience all throughout the game and really adds to the enjoyment. You know what else adds enjoyment to a zombie game? Guns. Lots of guns.

This is Rebellion and their Sniper Elite weapon customization makes a wonderful return in Zombie Army 4, and being a zombie game, we just can't have weapons without ways of customizing and upgrading them. Through the use of upgrade kits you can go to town on your favorite weapons and really turn them into items of immense damage. Thankfully you'll be able to see what the stats are of weapons so you can choose which one works best for your style of play. For example, some weapons allow you to opt for "healing bullets" over increase in damage output. Yes, shooting your teammate with bullets will heal them. It's a zombie game, I don't know. Even handguns can become powerful hand cannons if upgraded properly, so make sure to keep an eye out for upgrade kits. You can find upgrade kits throughout the levels, but you can also gain them for completing challenges. Each level gives you challenges and upon completion of them, you can earn upgrade kits as well. I found that this tremendously helped the replayability factor for the story levels.

I cannot stress enough though how your chances of survival increase dramatically with the increase in ammo storage. As your character levels up themselves you'll be able to use perks which will become a blessing as you literally will have moments when you see no end in sight. Use these perks wisely and you will make it out alive. Thankfully to do that, your control scheme from previous Sniper Elite games makes a return, and the more modern setup makes for a hell of a lot of fun, especially when that kill cam gives you that zoomed-in-gan-explosion.

Although, what would a good zombie game be without a horde mode right? Rebellion has you covered. Their horde mode is what you would come to expect from other games and requires tremendous teamwork to survive. You get an option to leave around wave 12 and this is the game basically giving you that last chance, because once you get into wave 13, you're there till you drop. This mode is incredibly fun, and I can easily see how this will drain many, many hours out of your life and each one will leave you smiling ear to ear.

Rebellion absolutely killed it with this release of Zombie Army 4: Dead War. Everything we love from the Sniper Elite series is tailored into an intense yet amazing experience that will satisfy any zombie craving you could ever want. When you take a game concept and simplify it, you have a greater chance at perfection and Rebellion came damn close. A few graphical bugs were really the only negatives, which is honestly, an amazing thing to say given how other top tier games have far more going wrong for it. Priced at $49.99, Zombie Army 4: Dead War is one of the best shooters for value that you can find on the market.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 7.5 / 10


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