Nazi Zombie Army Review (PC)

For all the promise that Sniper Elite: V2 showed with its bullet-time organ-bursting weapon-fetishistic take on long range combat, it was equally hampered in terms of production values and AI, setting its controversial combat in a procession of well-worn scenarios that quickly became monotonous. The central conceit - that of a close-up X-ray camera detailing the effect of a bullet in terms of human viscera - turned out to be a grizzly and hypnotic spectacle that was also incredibly crass considering the World War II subject matter. The overall was that of a bizarre mixture of comic-book adventure and reverence for the period, and it was all a little uncomfortable.

So yes, you could shoot testacles, lungs, brains or the grenade on an enemy soldier’s belt individually if you wanted, but the shock value quickly wore down, leaving a thin procession of trip mines, dynamite and stealthy shooting galleries to cover for some pretty dull close-quarter and medium-range combat. Rebellion’s “expandalone” to V2, Nazi Zombie Army, attempts to remedy a few of those criticisms and push the action firmly into tongue-in-cheek territory, setting its protagonist against Hitler’s “Project Z”: a supernatural army of lurching walkers, skeletons and assorted night-time beasties roaming misty wartime streets, villages, libraries, churches and crypts.

The new dance trend in Milton Keynes.

Right off the bat, it’s a more compelling scenario for the brutal damage modelling of those X-ray kills. Skeletons glow orange and skulls break apart in a similar fashion to their human counterparts, and V2’s pervading inappropriateness and clawing sense of bad taste is eviscerated. Yes there’s an argument to be made that Nazi Zombie Army delves even further into crassness with its depiction of supernatural Hitler and his cronies, but it feels so ridiculous that it’s almost impossible to take it seriously - and it was clearly never meant to be.

However, if it feels ok to shoot these enemies in the crotch and aim for two-for-one headshots, it begs the question as to why even bother with the period setting at all? A quick re-packaging of game assets might be the answer you’re looking for. Although the enemy soldiers and their ethereal counterparts are gussied up for the occasion, Nazi Zombie Army’s streets and buildings bear all the hallmarks of those from the previous title, albeit now bathed in green and orange light and littered liberally with explosive choke points and huge, sweeping corridors of death.

To enable the new suite of enemies, Sniper Elite’s combat dynamic changes dramatically from patient stalking to that of shooting gallery offence and frantic machine gun defence as the hordes descend on your position with laser-like intuition. Levels are broken up into checkpoints and safe rooms interspersed with various death alleys and wide arenas in which to fend of wave upon wave of zombie attack, with physical barriers often preventing progress until every last shuffler is taken care of.

I’m no expert, but I think that might be fatal.

The pace feels slow initially, but with each of the five campaign scenarios taking little over 30 minutes to complete, it’s fair to say that Nazi Zombie Army is a game that’s meant to be replayed multiple times over, with leaderboard scores and long-distance shots proving the biggest draw to keep players coming back.

In keeping to its roots just a little, the sniping mechanics remain as satisfying as it were in the previous title, but they’re also far more likely to be relegated to secondary status as soon as enemies breach your defences. From there, you’re relying on an array of lightweight machine guns, pistols, shotguns, mines, explosives and grenades, unfortunately most of which retain their lack of utility from previous versions. There are worse third-person shooters out there for sure, but Sniper Elite was a game that was always at its best when sticking to its moniker, and the instant that a secondary weapon comes into play, combat feels imprecise and far too floaty for its own good.

It should also be noted that if you’re planning on playing Nazi Zombie Army alone, then you’re in for a pretty dull experience. The never-ending waves of enemies and shooting galleries become a frustrating slog in singleplayer, and you can exhaust pretty much all the gameplay mechanics within the first hour. In four-player co-op however, Rebellion’s title sputters to life with increased enemy numbers and a satisfying flow of aggression and cover fire, made all the better when you have to backtrack or wade into a crowd in order to help up a tardy or over-confident comrade. Being part of a well-oiled four-player sniping team is a huge amount of fun, and even the chaotic mess of an incompatible unit is good for a giggle while it lasts.

For the launch price of £9.99 then, Nazi Zombie Army represents decent value for money but it’s not likely to offer any real competition for the likes of Left 4 Dead in the long run. Provided you’re willing to play co-op (and you really have to, or be warned this is not the game for you), you’ll have an entertaining few hours wading through each of the levels and popping zombie skulls at distance. Whilst there’s little in the way of tactical depth to sustain the action beyond the initial rush, Rebellion’s sniping and killcam mechanics remain an interesting and satisfying prospect in the short-term.

Top Gaming Moment: Clocking up a 10-for-1 explosive kill.