World War 2 is a very well explored period in human history, but even the finest combs can miss minuscule details. Minuscule details like the world being set upon by the undead at the behest of a desperate Adolf Hitler.
Zombie Army Trilogy (hereafter referred as ZAT) intends to explore this part of the last Great War in its entirety, to make sure we never repeat the mistakes that led to it. Players will fight their way through three campaigns worth of undead National Socialists to put an end to the plague by introducing Zombie Hitler’s brain to a well-placed bullet.
The story is about as sensible as you might expect. Trapped in his bunker, under siege from both Russians and his own Generals, who wish to surrender, we find old Adolf. In real life this was about the time people were deciding how best to off themselves, but this world’s Adolf has a plan. He takes the occult route and unleashes the undead upon the besieging armies and, by extension, himself and his own.
But don’t worry, it’s not just standard undead fascists you’ll be murdering, there’s a whole host of different types of enemies for you to shoot bullets through in slow motion. You’ll shatter skeletons, eviscerate elites and pulverise skull-wielding psychokinetic pests with the awesome power of friendship. Almost every encounter in ZAT requires solid teamwork if you’re too survive so I hope you’ve convinced some pals to pick it up if you’re going to dive in.
ZAT is actually a compilation of three games based around this theme, two of which have been available on PC for some time. The third game is where you’ll find all the new content available here, and they all appear to be based more on Sniper Elite 2 than on Sniper Elite 3.
The visuals look quite dated on this Xbox One version and the inconsistent framerate can be quite distracting. Especially when your screen is filling up with crowds of hungry dead people. Screen tear is all over the place, too.
It’s a pain because those are some of the best, most exciting moments in the game. Fighting them off with co-ordinated sniper fire and a variety of traps is really rewarding, so it’s a shame the experience gets impacted by technical issues. Net coding is sketchy too, with almost every game I’ve played so far forcing me to put up with a good half a second worth of lag between me firing a bullet and that bullet hitting something. You can play the game in solo but that’s missing the point in the game. It’s designed to be played with by four pals co-ordinating their movements, not a lone sniper bungling their way through.
At least solo players can witness the return of the iconic bullet cam, that’s missing from co-op play. In its place is an occasional very short follow cam on headshots that you could blink and miss. It’s a shame that they couldn’t find some way of bringing the most iconic aspect of the series into the meat of the gameplay, but it’s also understandable. It could get tedious if you have to put up with suddenly being in slow motion every other time someone shoots a zombie in the head. But is it really an excuse to deny people the chance to fire four sniper rounds into one zombie’s testicles?
This focus on co-op ensures that the game will have plenty of replay value, as you can always go back with your besties and try to beat all your scores, or take on new difficulties. Trolling is gloriously easy to do given you can shoot someone else’s trap just as a baddie is about to walk over it and steal all the kills (it’s a guilty pleasure).
That opens up co-operative competition too letting friends compete rabidly against one another to vapourise the most zombies for the highest score. Getting consecutive hits or kills builds up a combo multiplier that makes your kills worth more points.
The lag issues come into play sometimes here. Imagine you’re on a 20 hit combo. You fire a shot directly at a decaying head and it moves slowly out of the way while your bullet makes its way through the internet. That’s your combo away through no fault of your own. The game’s host will now effortlessly outperform you because their bullets aren’t so lazy.
In terms of gameplay ZAT is very solid. Ignoring latency problems bullets tend to hit the things you shoot them at and those things can be relied upon to react appropriately. It’s rare something will happen that just shouldn’t, like zombies ignoring explosions or bullets phasing through enemies without any effect. There are hitbox inconsistencies with melee attacks but melee is so not the point that it really doesn’t matter all that much. The one enemy you’ll find melee really useful against isn’t affected by the problem so it’s easily ignored.
The Good Stuff
- A great co-op game to fight through with your pals
- Mechanically sound
- Pleasingly wacky story
- Loads of relay value
The Bad Stuff
- Net coding causes the game to suffer lag quite severely
- Framerate is inconsistent with plenty of screen tear
- Graphics seem generally dated
- Bullet cam gets shunned
Zombie Army Trilogy is a brilliant choice if you and three pals plan on spending some nights online or hunched together in a room full of screens and cables. It’s a game based entirely on online co-op and, making use of all the tools to your disposal, you’ll undoubtedly have a brilliant time with it. That said it’s not exactly revolutionary, owing to the fact that parts of the game are a number of years old at launch. If you’re after a good time on your own look elsewhere.
Technical Competency – 9/10
Graphical Quality – 6/10
Entertainment value – 8/10
Sound quality – 8/10