It seems like it’s quite simple to make a hit videogame these days. Give us some big guns, a shed load of Zombies and free reign over the massacre and gamers will flock in their numbers. So how does Zombie Army Trilogy stand out from the rest? Well, bringing Adolf Hitler to the table is certainly a draw.
A third person shooter rising up from the Sniper Elite series, ZAT sees you take control of one of a number of characters as they attempt to do battle with the undead forces unleashed upon the world by Hitler himself.
Due to the way Zombie Army has been brought to Xbox One, the story behind everything pales into insignificance as the tactical battles on offer come to the fore. With all 15 missions open to gamers from the very start, how you go about matters is entirely down to you. It does however mean that the campaign as a whole is left by the way side a little with things turning into one-off mass zombie killing sprees rather than a continuation of a story. There are eight playable characters in all – four men and four women – all who play the same, and an absolute ton of undead to kill from standard slow walkers, to exploding kamikaze grenade carriers, resurrected skeletons and the real big sniping dogs and machine gun or chainsaw toting super elites.
For the most part, a standard lone zombie won’t cause you too much hassle but the sheer number of them that attack in waves are what defines Zombie Army Trilogy. In fact, each mission that is set out in front of you works on the basis that you’ll kill a wave of undead, find a safehouse in order to stock up on ammo and supplies, hit another increasingly difficult wave before crawling on your hands and knees to a new safe house. The same formula pretty much rinses and repeats across all the missions and sees the whole thing play out like a massive moving Horde mode.
With three difficulty levels available, ‘Cadet’ is ZAT in its simplest form, where bullets travel in a straight line, you get loads of ammo and you become a quick healer. ‘Marksman’ steps things up a bit, seeing gravity affect your bullets, whilst the ‘Sniper Elite’ difficulty setting should only be attempted if you’re a hadcore nutter. Gravity, wind and your stance all play pivotal roles in how well your shots hit and with limited ammo, a dodgy healing process and some of the hardest meanest zombies you’ll ever likely face, Sniper Elite is something only to consider for a hardened team of war veterans.
Thankfully you can also alter the enemy setup depending on how you wish to play. Whilst the default sets a decent number of undead onto the battlefield, depending entirely on the numbers in your team, if you find yourself struggling to complete the lengthy missions, then a quick switch down to a few (or in my case, a lot) less zombies is the way to go.
To make things easier to battle through, a full drop in/drop out system allows for you to invite up to three other wannabee snipers into the action at any point. It is here that Zombie Army Trilogy really does become value for money.
Working as a tactical team, four heads are way better than one and I have to admit to finding some of my most favourite recent online memories whilst hunkered up in a building, with a few of us sniping from the windows whilst others cover our backs with land mines and full powered shotguns dealing the damage to the stragglers. Zombie Army Trilogy has been made for teamwork and it shows brilliantly as if you think about what is to come and decide to work as a proper team then you’ll no doubt succeed! Beware though, even with four players, great comms and the default number of enemies, things get real tough and you’ll no doubt find your team restarting checkpoints like nobodies business when the real big guns come out to attack.
Add in the fact that each shot and kill you make is scored depending on how far it has traveled and how much damage it has dealt, the chance to actually go up against your team in order to score the highest combos and most points for each level is a good one. It brings a competitive feel to what is largely a coop based game nicely.
It is however with strange disappointment that one of the key components to the original Sniper Elite, the X-Ray kill cams, are strangely rare. It was always a good laugh to see your bullets in slo-motion, entering, destroying and exiting its intended victim but strangely even with the bullet cam frequency turned up to its max, the slow motion efforts do seem to come in dribs and drabs. Perhaps my shooting skills don’t warrant the sexy animations they bring? Whichever it is, it’s a shame because whilst the normal killing visuals are great (it’s always good to see a zombie head blown to smithereens), the slo-mo’s really do define the Sniper series.
Also included alongside the main campaign is a standard Horde mode, however, due to the nature of the featured story, Horde mode included in Zombie Army Trilogy very much feels like a bit of an add-on. With only five maps available and the usual waves of enemies that you normally find in a Horde mode, it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table…at least for the solo player.
The maps however are well designed with numerous routes of zombie entry and so if you have any deluded idea that you’ll make it through to anything further than the first couple of onslaughts, then you’ll have another thing coming.
Horde really does highlight the need for communication though and if you get to team up with a few friends, then it really comes alive, with back-covering aplenty as your team of crack pot soldiers attempts to battle their way through.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with Zombie Army Trilogy…and that’s coming from a man who didn’t really get the whole Sniper Elite thing. Due to its super tough nature, it has however also brought many hours of immense frustration, but thankfully the positives received from playing through the campaign levels with friends far outweigh the utter despair that is received when you’ve failed to defeat the Zombie horde for the twentieth time! Throw in a few hidden collectibles and you’ll find a seriously high level of replayability with ZAT.
If you’ve got some friends available to hack through the levels, then without hesitation go and purchase Zombie Army Trilogy. If you’re a loner, then it may be a much harder purchase decision.