Tuesday, January 07, 2020
What is it about the humble zombie that makes them so damn satisfying to shoot? Is it the squishy, decaying flesh? Is it that they can be blasted guilt-free, on account of them already being dead? Is it the brain-exploding headshots? Or – most likely – is it all of the above? Whatever it is, Zombie Army 4: Dead War has it in spades, and for anyone familiar with the previous Zombie Army trilogy, you'll have some idea of what to expect.
Or maybe you won't, because Rebellion has decided to raise the craziness bar for this one, taking the pulpy extremities of the series to another level, with more outrageous, fantastical elements that lean in to the bizarre and occult. And it doesn't hurt that popping the heads of Nazi zombies is endlessly fun, especially with friends in tow. Described by Level Designer Ryan Baker as “‘80s gory horror schlocky fun,” it's abundantly clear what kind of tone Rebellion is aiming for in Zombie Army 4.
Set in an alternate version of 1946, in which World War II is still raging, Zombie Army 4's “cult horror influence” has allowed the team “free rein to go crazy,” says Baker. New weapons exemplify this perfectly, with the likes of the electric gauntlet and divine hammer – great for crowd control – while outlandish upgrades for real-world weapons, like the Mauser pistol, can transform ordinary guns into devastating, fully-automatic hand cannons. Customisation doesn't stop with weapon upgrades either, as there'll be stacks of cosmetic items and other stuff to unlock.
It’s ZA4’s arsenal of weaponry that ought to be one of the game’s biggest draws, as adopting an alternate reality for the latest instalment has allowed Rebellion carte blanche to really go overboard. “You can upgrade your weapons in keeping with our alternate universe, so you can make your bullets go electric and stick little valves on there,” Baker tells us. “It's not realistic, but it's a lot more fun than just having a bigger magazine. If it's going to be fun, it can go in the game.” And with countless mods to take advantage of, building a formidable zombie slaying loadout will all be part of the fun.
This also ties neatly into a new progression system with 100 ranks to level up through, each granting new perks and other rewards. Zombie Army 4 has more than adequate depth, then, but what really matters is the pure and unadulterated chaos the game conjures, with hundreds of zombies to mow down, including new additions like the scuttling creeper or the zombie tank (as in an actual tank) complete with internal rib cage and beating heart to expose and shoot beneath its armour.
Thankfully, you're well equipped to face the Nazi zombie horde, whether you're going it alone or teaming up for 4-player co-op, with charged melee attacks and a range of meaty weapons available for keeping the undead at bay. And once you've filled your special gauge, you can even let loose with an ultimate attack to help clear a path. Each member of Zombie Army 4's cast has their own ultimate ability, so, like a hero shooter, you can choose your favourite out of goateed bruiser Boris, dependable fighter Jun, badass engineer Shola, and Sniper Elite protagonist Karl Fairburne, then let 'em rip.
Going hands-on with two of Zombie Army 4: Dead War missions, the immediate and obvious comparison (except for the previous three entries, of course) is Left 4 Dead or even Call of Duty’s Zombies mode. While that's hardly surprising – it being a 4-player co-op zombie shooter and all – it's the relentless, frantic nature of the game's action that brings Valve's title and CoD’s staple mode to mind. And that's the best thing about Zombie Army 4 – it's almost non-stop, hurling vast numbers of shambling corpses into the mix, albeit with a few extra tricks that make it stand out.
There's the return of the brilliantly brutal and gratuitously gruesome slow-mo X-ray killcam, which sees zombie eyeballs, spleens, hearts, testicles, and other organs exploding in almost forensic detail. Then there are the traps you can deploy against the gangrenous hordes, like strategically-placed airplane propellers that whisk zombies to pieces like a giant food processor, resulting in limbs, heads, and other dismembered body parts flying across the battlefield.
Should Dead War's campaign fail to provide adequate zombie slaughter, then Horde mode should see you right, serving up suitably frantic wave-based mayhem against all manner of malevolent nasties. As you'd expect, Zombie Army 4's Horde mode revels in providing pure chaos, hurling unrelenting legions of Nazi undead at you in a variety of different guises, be it a commander opening rifts that manifest more and more zombies, an armoured zombie wielding a huge buzzsaw, zombies armed with flamethrowers, or a speedy suicider that can reduce your squad to giblets should you fail to put it down in time.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War is shaping up to provide exactly what you'd hope to find in a game that's about blowing Nazi zombies' heads off. It's an unapologetic slice of gleefully silly fun that has no pretences above and beyond being simply just that. The equivalent of a video game B-movie, Zombie Army 4 is wonderfully uncomplicated and unreservedly daft, and perhaps that's exactly the sort of thing we need right now.
Tuesday, January 07, 2020 @ 07:12 PM
Tuesday, January 07, 2020 @ 08:42 PM
Tuesday, January 07, 2020 @ 09:52 PM
Tuesday, January 07, 2020 @ 10:14 PM
Tuesday, January 07, 2020 @ 10:16 PM
Wednesday, January 08, 2020 @ 04:18 AM
Wednesday, January 08, 2020 @ 02:36 PM