I have a lot of time for sniping in video games. It wasn’t always like this though and back in the day, when I used to play Battlefield: Bad Company 2 a lot, I used to despise having snipers as part of our squad, as invariably they would be sat in a bush, a million miles from anything resembling an objective, protecting their precious K/D ratio with their 2 kills and no deaths in a round. It was something which made my blood boil. Getting killed by a sniper was even worse!
Anyway, these days I am quite often found rocking a sniper rifle as my secondary weapon of choice in games like Ghost Recon and The Division 2. It’s nice to have a weapon that can do the whole “Finger of God” thing from 500 yards away, as well as a big nasty machine gun for those up close and personal times. But what about a game where the sniper rifle is front and centre, and not just thought of as a secondary weapon? Well, step forward the Sniper Elite games from Rebellion.
Sniper Elite V2 was my entry into this genre, and I have no shame in admitting that it was a real learning curve back in the day. My usual style in shooting games is to be as stealthy as an elephant amongst a herd of mice, charging in with all guns blazing and usually dying ignominiously as a result. It took me a while to adapt to the slower pace of Sniper Elite; finding the right hidey hole, spotting the enemies and keeping tabs on their patrol routes, protecting my back with trip mines and so on. I soon took to it like a duck to water, with a multitude of long range kills to my name. The X-Ray shots were a revelation as well.
Anyway, I’ve got this far into an article and haven’t even mentioned the game I’m supposed to be talking about, so here we go. The Zombie Army Trilogy relates to some DLC that was originally released for Sniper Elite V2, way back in 2013, and consists of two pieces that launched alongside an unreleased third instalment. The decision was made at some point to release it as a stand-alone title, and it’s here that my love affair with the rotting inhabitants of Nazi Germany began. You see, in my mind, the only thing better than sniping Nazi heads off is sniping zombie heads off. So a game like Zombie Army Trilogy that lets you combine the two? Amazing!
Set in the final days of the Third Reich, in an alternate universe, Hitler has ordered that all the dead soldiers in his army should be reanimated in some kind of nonsensical occult ceremony, and lo and behold it works. Obviously this can’t be a good thing, and our crack team are sent in to sort it out by the application of bullets to craniums, amongst other things. Along the way, we have to find a book, the various parts of a relic to save us from the undead, and deal with the reanimated corpse of Hitler. Pretty much business as usual then.
Zombie Army Trilogy had two main game modes – a single player campaign (although this can also be played in a co-op manner) and a four player horde-type game. Following the narrative is interesting, if a little far-fetched, but with a vast array of zombies to kill, along with skeletons, super zombies and even Occult Generals to put down, there’s no shortage of cannon fodder to aim at. The gadgets make a comeback too, and with the chance to boobytrap stairwells in order to keep yourself out of harm’s way, and the addition of dynamite that can be thrown and then shot later when a horde of shambling corpses come by, playing tactically is really the only way to play. Guns blazing doesn’t work when there seem to be more zombies than you have bullets, and reaching a super zombie with only harsh language left in your arsenal doesn’t end well. With three full episodes to play through, there’s no shortage of content, and beating the undead menace is very satisfying.
However, I am a big fan of cooperative game modes, and as such the horde mode in ZAT was a god send. Working together to close off entries to the building where you’ve chosen to make your stand with three like-minded players, realising that you have run out of ammo and either need to take it from a fresh corpse or find a cache, all while dodging enemies makes every level seem very tense. Seeing your teammates go down one by one until you are the last sniper standing, with a load of zombies between you and the end of the wave when you can rearm, has had me sweating more than once. Throw in the dwindling supplies of explosives and rounds for all the weapons, including the old trusty pistol, quite often discretion can be the better part of valour and a clean pair of heels will keep you alive longer than trying to stand and fight. If I’m honest, the melee mechanic in this game was a bit hit and miss, if you’ll pardon the pun, and unless it was from behind I’d quite often miss slapping a zombie down and wind up dead myself.
Graphically and things were okay, but this trilogy was never going to set the world on fire, much like its source material, and even the port to the new Xbox One didn’t improve matters much. The scenery was muddy, and the zombies had a habit of popping into existence in a comical manner, but it never stopped me enjoying the game. In a weird kind of way, it was better because it looked ropey: you could concentrate on ending the zombie menace instead of being distracted by shiny graphical bells and whistles. The sounds however were bang on, from the bang of the rifle as you reached out and touched a zombie, to the groaning of the undead horde as they shuffled closer. Even playing these days, it still is a fun game five years on and there are still a good few gamers playing it, as I’ve luckily found out in doing my research for this piece.
So these are my memories of Zombie Army Trilogy. How about you guys? Do you still play, or have you never known the joy of putting a round through a zombie’s rotting brain? Let me know in the comments and if you did love it, there’s next to no reason to not be now playing the brilliant Zombie Army 4: Dead War too. If you wish to pick up ZAT from the Xbox Store then this is a game that appears to be holding its value with a price tag of £39.99 still in place. But I feel certain that your local second hand games emporium should have copies at a much more reasonable price.