In gaming, there are few enemies more fun to kill than Nazis and zombies. Therefore, the best game (naturally) has zombie Nazis to shoot, burn, and electrocute with impunity. At least, that’s what I said to myself while taking aim at the mindless soldiers while playing an early build of Zombie Army 4: Dead War.
A zombie army 4 U
The occult-themed cooperative shooter takes players back to 1946, where they must make their way through ruined European cities infested with the undead. Apparently, the sending of Hitler to hell in the previous Zombie Army game didn’t quite do the trick, because the undead hordes are back. So, of course, a new team of heroes must come together to exterminate the cause.
I was able to play through the demo both solo and cooperatively with one other person. As you might have already guessed, the game is much easier and more fun when you add more players to the mix. Although we didn’t do much coordinating, not having to worry as much about monsters sneaking up behind me was a welcome relief, as was the added firepower. Sometimes, I let my teammate run ahead of me so that he could attract the creatures for me to pick off from a distance.
Playing by myself was far more challenging, as expected. Although the game has ammunition caches spread throughout the levels, it takes a few seconds to load up. Meanwhile, zombies are creeping up on you, threatening to tear you apart. Basic enemies aren’t very fast, but they’re quick enough to keep you moving.
Combat areas are also relatively small with a handful of chokepoints, so it’s important to constantly be on the move. However, that also means there’s little time to stop and aim or set explosives. It’s easier to lead groups into pre-set traps like exploding barrels when you’re alone, since there’s little to divide their attention, but that also meant that there was no one to back me up when things went wrong.
At one point, a mistimed shot against an explosive cannister took out far fewer creatures than I had hoped, and I soon found myself low on grenades and shotgun ammo. I scrambled through a narrow passage to recover, relying more on melee weapons. Somewhere along the way, I picked up some sort of electrical gauntlet that stunned and hurt nearby zombies when I punched one and went wild with it. Melee attacks charge up a bloody pentagram, which allowed me to unleash a power attack that destroyed most foes instantly.
But once I made my way out of the starting area, the rest of the demo breezed by rather quickly. Some of the later areas even had traps already set up for me, like plates along the floor of a train station that electrify when you shoot a target.
However, I was one of the suckers who stood too close to an airplane propeller with a “shoot here” sign affixed next to it, which quickly diced my character up. But, it turns out that’s a pretty handy trap when zombies are standing in front of it instead of you.
Aim for the head
Apart from some of the outrageous weapons, like the electrified gauntlet, Zombie Army 4 plays like a faster-paced version of Sniper Elite 4. Where the latter game encourages players to maintain cover and pick targets off from a distance, Zombie Army forces players to get up close and personal. This works for the most part, but it did feel like a waste when I ended up with a stash of mines that I had no time to plant.
I also didn’t find much use in having precision rifles, since there’s no safe place to stand still and shoot enemies from. So, I ended up relying on grenades and the shotgun, which meant that I never got any of the X-ray shots the Sniper Elite series is famous for.
Additionally, I quickly figured out that the important weapon was the incendiary grenade. I could light up a choke point with one and watch the zombies burn as they walked through the flames.
Some of the more challenging enemies include the kamikaze zombies that have sticks of dynamite tied to them. Is it weird that someone can summon dynamite minions from hell? Because it feels weird. Shouldn’t they just burn and explode naturally? Anyway, I had to keep a close watch for these volatile creatures for fear of being caught reloading when they come running up.
Unfortunately, my demo timer ran out on both playthroughs before I was able to fight any big bosses or see a hint of the giant zombified shark.
Taking on the zombie nazi army
Although the short demo only gave a taste of what Zombie Army 4 has to offer, I can say with certainty that shooting undead Nazis never loses its charm. But the game loses quite a bit of charm when going it alone, so it’s always better to go hunting with other players.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War releases for the PC on the Epic Games Store on February 4, 2020.