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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed/played one of the many zombie video games precipitated by the overarching zombie trend that has invaded, nay, infected pop culture over the past few years. The appeal of zombie fiction is complex – a combination of last-man-standing fantasy and post-apocalyptic horror. Zombie games are not a new phenomenon, but Rebellion’s latest game, a standalone based off Sniper Elite V2, has made me realize that they’ve probably overstayed their welcome.
Sniper Elite V2’s claim to fame was its inclusion of an “X-Ray Kill Cam,” which, upon scoring a kill, would present in gory detail the anatomical particulars of your conquest. It’s a particularly entertaining portion of a game that received a lukewarm reception otherwise, and Rebellion has done well to include this again because otherwise, Nazi Zombie Army would be even less entertaining than it already is. The Kill Cam retains much of the novelty of the original, the only difference being that your targets are decayed shells of men, and their seemingly rotting innards reflect that accordingly.
After a short introductory cutscene starring an irate Hitler and a short blurb on the loading screen, it’s obvious that there is very little plot in Nazi Zombie Army. It’s also obvious that the titular “Nazi zombies” have taken a cue from World War 2 era Russia, because all they ever do is shamble at you en masse while you unload round after round into their Nazi faces. Sometimes, they spawn behind you, or behind a corner, and that’s about as exciting they ever get. It doesn’t help that it is incredibly uncomfortable to aim down a magnified scope at something that is very close by, which becomes a near inevitability at every junction in the game, which leads me to my next point: Nazi Zombie Army is excruciatingly linear and painfully devoid of any personality.
The environments that your nondescript “elite sniper” roams through are as drab as they are draped in perpetual twilight. Every so often, you may find a swastika/pentagram combo drawn in blood. This is as if to remind you that you are, in fact, fighting Nazis, and yes, they have occult stuff, like zombies. Otherwise, you are guided from deserted street to deserted street, sometimes momentarily shacking up in a church or abandoned building or set of barricades to unload bullets into the skulls of your undead foes until the game tells you to move along to next one.
There’s a very minimal effort to mix gameplay up – sometimes suicide zombies with explosives strapped to their bodies (I wish I was making this up) will find their way up to whatever hideyhole the game decided to shove you in and detonate in your immediate vicinity, or a zombie equipped with its own sniper rifle will take potshots at you. For the most part, however, you’re going to be mowing down rows and rows of slowly moving zombies. Theoretically, the large amount of World War 2 weaponry available would be enough to spice the game up, except they are all nearly indistinguishable from each other besides the fact that some take longer to reload than others – a headshot is a headshot, after all, and this renders all the hemming and hawing in any given gun’s description essentially useless.
The co-op component is about as lackluster as any, extrapolating the single-player campaign in its entirety so that you may once again roam the game’s dreary levels, except this time, you can do it with three other players. Admittedly, the game gets slightly better – it turns out having people watch your back while you unload on the zombified denizens of Nazi Germany is safer and more entertaining, but what game doesn’t get better with friends?
It’s difficult to see Nazi Zombie Army as anything but an off-handed buy-in to the zombie trend. Its low price-point and co-op may be enough to satisfy friends looking for a fun Saturday night, but there are far better choices in zombie games to play.
Available on: PC ; Publisher: Rebellion; Developer: Rebellion; Players: 1-4; Released: February 28, 2013; ESRB: NA; MSRP: $14.99; Official Site
Note: A promotional code was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.