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The Zombie Army franchise has always put a deadly spin on the final days of World War II. And Rebellion Developments' fourth instalment, Dead War, sure keeps the zombie hordes coming and the blood gushing from every orifice.
Even though it's been five years since Zombie Army Trilogy was released, the storyline here couldn't be any easier to get into. Similarly to DOOM, all you have to do is stay alive and shoot everything in sight. Easy, right? After picking which member of the survivor brigade you'd like to play as, you are plunged right into the action and tasked with regrouping with the resistance formed after der Führer reanimated the dead. The character selection features familiar faces from the Zombie Army franchise, including Boris Medvedev and Karl Fairburne. The introduction slowly eases you into the zombie-killing chaos before the hordes gradually build up in magnitude.
As you progress through the Zombie Army 4: Dead War campaign, you'll traverse the world in an attempt to control the outbreak that Hitler started at the end of WWII. In each chapter you attempt to eliminate the Hell Towers, which are fuelling the Dead War. Inside the game's opening hours, I'd already raced to catch a train in Milan, visited zombie-infested canals in Venice and explored a Croatian Zoo, with each environment featuring a wealth of horrors that certainly aren't for the faint hearted. (Who knows, you might even see a few zombie sharks along the way.)
It may sound like you're moving about a lot, but don't worry, the game gives you plenty of time to see everything on offer throughout the chapters. Having been to Venice myself, seeing it in apocalypse mode sure is a sight to behold.
The storyline itself doesn't have much depth to it, though. Yes, there are familiar characters from the previous Zombie Army titles; but if you haven't played those, they'll be irrelevant. The game often prompts you to reflect on the journey these characters have had throughout the games prior to this one, which just doesn't connect if you're coming to this as your first Zombie Army game.
But if it's gore you're looking for? Zombie Army 4: Dead War has oodles throughout. Gallons of the stuff. The player can stomp on any zombie corpse, which can rewards them with ammunition and health. If somehow you manage to run out of ammo, players can still pack a punch, quite literally. There's also a few cinematic takedowns which involve ramming a knife into a zombie's skull or getting up close and personal with your Thompson machine gun.
Deadly traps are scattered across the landscape, which players can quite easily interact with by shooting them, and these can help take the pressure off in the heat of the moment. Traps add some variety to the battlefield, as mowing down zombies with just your sniper rifle can get a bit monotonous after a while. The traps come in a few different forms, so it is definitely worth interacting with these.
Along with the various locations in the game, as you progress you'll encounter new zombie types. These will keep you on your toes in the first instance, but after fighting waves and waves of the same type, you'll soon learn that they're not really a force to be reckoned with. A few well-placed headshots can pretty much stop anything the game throws at you. Even the bog-standard zombies the game repeatedly spawns in seem to come at you very slowly, which is a massive help when it comes to lining up your shot. Every once in a while it'd be nice to feel a bit challenged, or up against it.
With that being said, the game does allow you to change the enemy setup, which means even if you play solo you can have up to four players' worth of zombies to deal with. But even then you still get the same slow and sometimes confused zombies, just slightly more of them.
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In games of this nature you're often taught to preserve your ammunition in order to survive, but this simply isn't the case with Zombie Army 4, which features plenty of resupply points across the maps, so you'll find yourself never running low. Players are also provided ample opportunities to prepare for the road ahead, in safe rooms located at the end of each chapter. These allow players to upgrade weapons, change loadouts and refill your pockets with grenades and medkits. This further reinforces the game's suitability as more of a co-op experience, as some players on your squad might be more triggerhappy than others. The game also provides you with time to regroup following a boss battle, before entering the next theatre of war - but if playing solo, you'll just breeze through these parts unknowingly.
A few hours into the game, once the rush of those different locations has dulled, you do sadly get the impression that you've seen everything Zombie Army 4: Dead War has to offer. The only variable is the mission at hand, and it usually involves locating explosives or defending objectives, such as bridge controls or bombs before they go off. The campaign also features some sections where you have to defend against torrents of zombies, and this is a nice little glimpse at the separate horde mode that is bundled alongside the Zombie Army 4 story mode.
The game lends itself very well to being experienced as an online multiplayer, supporting four-player co-op throughout the entire campaign. Co-op players will also find there's a multitude of perks which benefit teammates, and these can be swapped out based on play styles and the mission at hand. Personally, I went for the most damage-inflicting setup which helped me attain the highest combo possible because, why not? But the game does allow you to swap and change perks throughout the co-op campaign should you for some strange reason do not want to cause as much damage anymore.
Much like its predecessors, Zombie Army 4 continues to adopt mechanics from the Sniper Elite series which makes killing the endless hordes of zombies so much more satisfying. There's something weirdly rewarding about watching a bullet pierce through five zombies in a row and clearing a path to safety. That being said, the game doesn't really offer anything massively new that the previous Zombie Army titles haven't already.
If you're a fan of Zombie Army Trilogy and desperately want to pick up where the story left off, then this fourth instalment is definitely worth a dabble. However, for those gamers looking for an apocalyptic zombie shooter that comes with a bit of a challenge, this one might not be for you. While the game does what it says on the tin, it doesn't add a wealth of new experiences or features to set it aside from previous Zombie Army titles.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War was reviewed using PlayStation 4 code provided by the publisher. The game is also available on Xbox One and PC. Read a guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.
Featured Image Credit: Rebellion Developments
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