Rebellion released the first Sniper Elite in 2005 with their award winning ballistics. They followed that up with the reboot, Sniper Elite v2 in 2012 in which they added the controversial “X-Ray Kill Cam”. This latest installment sees Rebellion ditch the stealth for zombies in Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army.
In Sniper Elite v2 you played as Karl Fairburne, an OSS officer assigned to Berlin in 1945 and tasked with eliminating the scientists involved in the German V-2 rocket program. In Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army you once again take control of Karl Fairburne in Berlin in 1945, however, this time you are the only person alive.
The first cutscene in the campaign shows Hitler in his bunker being informed of the situation in and around Berlin. In a rage, Hitler orders his men to execute “Plan Z” which, based on what happens next, I can only assume is the plan to turn all the dead soldiers into zombies.
The story is told through several missions that are reminiscent of the campaigns in Left 4 Dead. These missions can be played solo or co-op with up to four people. Each mission consists of a series of objectives leading up to a final standoff between you and the undead horde. Some of the objectives will have you setting up choke points before opening up the door that stands between you and an army of zombies.
There are several types of undead monstrosities waiting to pick the flesh from your bones. There are the slow shambling zombies, skeletons, suicide zombies who explode if they reach you, sniper zombies jumping from rooftop to rooftop and finally big badass zombies with chainguns who take several headshots or well placed grenades to deal with. On top of all that there is the occasional boss fight thrown in to the mix.
As with Sniper Elite v2 there is a plethora of guns and equipment to choose from when picking a loadout. You can choose a scoped rifle like the Springfield M1903, an automatic rifle like the Thompson M1 and a side arm. You can also carry two types of hand grenade, land mines, trip mines and dynamite, though you are limited to carry two of each at a time. These explosives come in handy when faced with large numbers of zombies as they can be used to kill many at once leaving you to mop up the rest with your firearms.
Two other features that Sniper Elite v2 boasted are also present in Nazi Zombie Army. Realistic ballistics (which takes into account gravity), wind speed and holding your breath to steady your aim. On the easier difficulty settings, when the player is holding their breath an indicator is shown as to where the bullet will hit the target. On the hardest difficulty setting this indicator is not shown, so for longer shots you must account for gravity and wind speed by yourself.
The second feature is the “X-Ray Kill Cam” that shows you in impressive detail the devastating effect that bullets can have on the human body. This cam triggers whenever you make a skilled shot through an enemies head, vital organ or if you manage to kill two enemies with one bullet. The camera flies with the bullet in slow motion until it hits the enemy then exposes the skeleton so you can see bones shatter and various other gruesome things happen as the bullet passes through the body.
The areas of Berlin where each mission take place are modified versions of the maps from Sniper Elite v2. There is good attention to detail, which makes the streets and building look very authentic. There is a lot of mist around to make the empty city feel spooky and the music is used to good effect to increase the tension as you traverse the map. Satanic symbols are all around, usually with the swastika in the middle to remind you that you are fighting nazi zombies.
My main criticism with Nazi Zombie Army is that the mechanics don’t feel like they fit the game play. Sniper Elite v2 is touted as a stealth game, where planning everything in advance is the key to completing each mission. While there is some of that with Nazi Zombie Army in that you can place landmines and trip mines then funnel the zombies through narrow corridors, there is no stealth aspect at all. As soon as the zombies spawn they know exactly where you are even if you have not fired a shot. When the zombies close in around you the third person view does not make it easy to run and gun.
Even at the lowest difficulty, trying to play the campaign single player is incredibly difficult. The suicide zombies alone were enough to put me off playing through on my own as sniping them is almost impossible, and by the time they are in range for the automatic rifle it is too late.
Finally, the zombie encounters when moving between objectives are all scripted. As soon as you move past some invisible spot you will hear the sound of zombies spawning and as I’ve mentioned before, they immediately start shuffling towards you. Inevitably Nazi Zombie Army is going to be compared to Left 4 Dead. While the weapons are more sophisticated in Sniper Elite the mechanics of how zombies spawn and how they interact with the player are not a patch on the Left 4 Dead director AI.
These criticisms may lead you to believe I did not enjoy Nazi Zombie Army, but let me tell you about the co-op. After a frustrating start with the single player I teamed up with 3 friends to tackle a few of the missions. We decided to try the hardest difficulty with friendly fire turned on and proceeded to hunt down and exterminate the zombie menace. We would plan out the perfect place to put down traps, position ourselves accordingly and then unleash the horde. The Skype chat was filled with laughter after botched grenade throws or my inability to shoot anything. The easy sections had us competing against each other and the harder sections had us banding together just trying to survive.
This leads me to the conclusion that Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army is a good co-op zombie shooter. If you enjoy playing games like Left 4 Dead with friends then Nazi Zombie Army is a good addition to your co-op game rotation. If you want a stealth game about sniping zombies from afar then this isn’t it.
6 zombie Hitlers out of 10