The developers at Rebellion Developments are masters at creating intense third-person shooters that transport you into a gruesome world as you take on waves of enemies, unlock new gear and survive hordes of deadly creatures. Zombie Army 4: Dead War is the pinnacle of the series and evolves on all the above by adding new weapons, stages, enemies and encounters into the mix. It shines the brightest when you are playing on the highest difficulty with three friends as you mow down the endless waves of zombies while taking advantage of different character builds you have worked on creating throughout the campaign.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War does very little to recreate the genre but it works so darn well already. You are placed into a World War II setting as zombie Hitler has raised his army of the dead. You and your team venture through iconic European cities and locations taking down giant hand towers that are being used as a source of the zombies’ power. Along the way, you will complete lengthily missions chopped up into different chapters as you explore each location, find collectables, blow zombies limb from limb and time that perfect sniper shot in order to blow their brains out.
As Zombie Army 4: Dead War has been developed by the Sniper Elite studio, there is a great emphasis on rifle shooting in the game. Levels are designed with sniper points in mind and long-distant advantages are found when you go looking for them. I found myself sniping as often as possible as it not only feels great but the chance to have the camera zoom in on a zombie testicle being popped by Mosin Nagant was as satisfying as ever. It also helps that combat gets quite intense so you need to thin the oncoming horde a bit with a sniper before they get too close for comfort. When they do, pulling out a trench gun to mow them all down with blast damage was just as fun.
Every mission delivered a new and exciting approach from the sunken streets of Venice to the dense forest-like greenhouses in the zoo. Level design is superb and the narrow corridors of the asylum as giant iron-wearing zombies came hurtling towards us provided that moment I craved when booting up the game for the first time. It works and although it felt a little too easy most of the time, the gunplay delivered satisfying and intense moments.
The combo system found in Strange Brigade has also returned that sees you kill as many zombies as possible without missing a shot and using all your gadgets at your disposal. Characters are equipped with a takedown movie, a powerful melee ability and special weapon skills that all combine together to help you juggle this combo system. Tossing a fire grenade into a group of enemies to see them burn while shooting a zombie shark trap that forced it to eat all nearby zombies alive boosted my combo up. I then made sure to shoot as many of them to keep the count going higher. The higher the combo, the more points you get and you can fight it out on the leaderboards at the end of a level.
While the combo system is great, it often felt limited by the game’s design. Waves are not endless and just when you get past the 100 mark, the chapter will end leaving you craving more kills. Even the encounters where you have to survive for a set amount of time always ended before things really got too tough to handle. The game plays it safe way too often and I just wanted a little bit more of a challenge. When there was a challenge, I felt as if it could have lasted a little bit longer.
You spend quite a lot of time ranking up and crafting the best loadout including perks, item mods, and weapons each have their own upgrade trees too. However, most of it feels underutilized especially when the toughest of moments end way too early. With that being said, gunplay is fun and addictive and the combat is made even greater with the addition of all the extra abilities.
Different enemy types add obstacles to the combat approach as they all require a different way of killing them. Iron Zombies walk slowly but have giant metal plates on them that need to be shot off in order to deal damage. The Butcher is a giant buzzsaw-wielding maniac that dances around while trying to saw you up. There are even sniper zombies that shoot you from a distance and deal heavy damage. I did wish these zombie variants were used a little bit more often as most of the time, you will be killing the basic types with the more powerful zombies only making an appearance every so often.
Rebellion Development also worked hard to bring the game’s environments to life. Hidden areas offered easter eggs, collectable comics and every chapter had a tiny zombie hand to hunt down and shoot as a little hidden side objective. This was a nice break from the constant “blowing brains out” combat that the game prides itself on.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War is not shy of content. Its original nine missions will keep you busy for over an hour each with different difficulties to add even more time to the chapters. Then there’s the horde mode which is an endless zombie fight set on iconic maps that sees you survive for as long as possible. All this progress is then added to the 100-rank system that unlocks new skins, perks, emotes and much more throughout the progression tree.
The game also urges you to return to past missions to complete challenges and collect the missing upgrade kits and collectables. You can unlock stickers in a sticker book by killing a set number of zombies in a specific way which is a great way to track your objectives too.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”#1D71FA” class=”” size=”21″]We then have the Zombie Army 4: Dead War Season Pass. It sells for a crazy R549 and promises 3 new levels and a load of cosmetic items. I just cannot warrant that price tag. The game alone is R779 and it a great package but the Season Pass feels like blind robbery. It is extremely expensive for post-game content.[/perfectpullquote]
Zombie Army 4: Dead War prides itself on its great co-op gameplay. It is tough alone? Yes, but the challenge is well worth the fight. With nine missions and the horde mode, there is plenty to do here. I just hope the developers work on a real challenge for the game as even the toughest mode with the most zombies felt a little too easy. Regardless, the game is bloody fun and will keep you busy for hours. Just stay away from that overpriced Season Pass. For now anyway.
This Zombie Army 4: Dead War review was based on a PS4 code sent to us by Rebellion Developments.
Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Reviewed On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 4 February 2020 | Price: R779