Recently, we have become less and less likely to see truly original ideas from major developers. And it’s normal that the authors stand on the shoulders of their predecessors and use the already known tricks. After all, as a rule, they improve them and add something of their own, whether it be interesting mechanics or a fresh look at history. Unfortunately, this cannot be said about Zombie Army 4: Dead War, but did it become bad because of this?
Zombie Army 4: Dead War is a co-op story third-person shooter for four. Although the word “plot” should not be taken too seriously. Yes, the main game mode is represented by a campaign of ten levels for ten hours of passage. Nevertheless, the whole story and ENT fit into the phrase: “Nazi zombies are bad, they must be killed.” And somewhere in the background, Hitler returns from hell.
However, it cannot be said that the game world is poorly designed. The locations are quite diverse – you have to fight in the canals of Venice, an abandoned zoo, Roman catacombs and other notable places. However, due to the same gray color scheme, they all merge into one spot. But on the levels you can find a lot of terrible and sometimes funny little things – here at the bar counter the torn off hand of a zombie mixes drinks, and in the next room children’s dolls play the sacrifice.
Each of the levels, except the last, is a corridor divided into four sections. Between them there are safe areas where you can upgrade weapons, replenish ammunition and be treated. The latter is especially true – the characters regenerate only a small part of their health, and there are almost no first-aid kits on locations. This is one of the main factors determining the complexity of the game.
Another factor is too weak ordinary zombies. These dead are too slow to pose any kind of threat. Often you can simply run past them – they can do nothing for you. Over time, zombies acquire helmets, and some even firearms, but this hardly makes them much more dangerous. Interest in the game add special opponents.
The kamikaze are hung with dynamite and run fast, snipers shoot from afar and change their position after each shot, officers can call other dead or strengthen existing ones, and a zombie tank is literally a tank. Their appearance forces a radical change in tactics. If ordinary opponents can be lazily fired at while standing in one place, then they will have to run away from these guys – some of them need to be targeted in the first place, while others do not even take bullets.
In these moments of chaos, one of the oddities of Zombie Army 4 begins to emerge: all the game characters are snipers. Firstly, because of this, there is not even a conditional division into classes, and all members of the group perform the same roles, which is not very good for a cooperative. The difference in bonuses and fines of the heroes is minimal. Secondly, the very fact of using a sniper rifle – a “surgical instrument of war” – against hordes of zombies and almost point-blank looks pretty ridiculous. Of course, this is due to the fact that the zombie shooter is the spin-off of the Sniper Elite series. But after seven years and three license plates, one could add variety or combine games if the first did not have enough strength.
Players are given three standard rifles to choose from and one more from the DLC. Each of them can be improved with the help of sets that are hidden at the levels – to increase the magnification of the sight, fasten the bayonet-knife, add explosive cartridges and so on. With a successful shot, the “sniper” is capable of piercing several bodies, accompanying this with spectacular x-ray photography. As an additional weapon, you can choose a machine gun or a shotgun, and in reserve – one of the pistols. They can also be upgraded.
Each barrel has special ability: a rifle makes one armor-piercing shot, shotguns and machine guns slow down time, and with a pistol you can mark several opponents and automatically make headshots. Skills are charged with kills from the appropriate weapon. At the same time, the execution counter is filled – a special melee attack that instantly kills the enemy, as well as replenishes health and ammo.
Despite the pleasant roster of opponents and at least some variability of weapons, the gameplay of Zombie Army 4: Dead War is very monotonous. Tasks are reduced to cleaning the arena, cleaning the arena in a limited radius, protecting the object, which is no different from cleaning the arena, and searching for objects. Highlighting something against this background is not easy, except for a fight with the final boss, who eventually turns into a cleanup of the arena.
The effect of uniformity is enhanced by low replay value. Locations are made up by hand, and the appearance of enemies is scripted. The authors clearly aim for long-term support, given the number of character levels provided. But it’s hard to imagine how players will pass the same same levels over and over again.
The cooperative should have corrected the situation, because, according to the myth, everything is getting better with it. In fact, of course, this is not so – the cooperative makes the pastime more fun than the game, as Zombie Army 4 demonstrates.
The gameplay of the joint game is no different from the single, unless you can raise the fallen allies. A shooter does not force you to stick together and join forces: not one of the mechanics requires cooperation, there are no divisions into complementary classes, and the difficulty for a group increases only by increasing the number of enemies. From the side, the joint game looks like a chance meeting in some MMO. Yes, during the game you can chat and compete in the long run. This is definitely more fun than shooting zombies alone. However, the idea of introducing a cooperative just for the sake of a cooperative is already quite outdated. From modern games you expect something new, and not a simplification of a mechanic a decade ago. Its advantages can only be attributed to the stability of network elements.
In addition to the main campaign, you can test your strength in two other modes. “Event of the week” is the same game, but with additional modifiers like banning certain weapons or endless ammunition. “Horde” is a little more interesting – users are placed in a location that is attacked by waves of zombies. Gradually, the boundaries of the playing area increase, and new weapons appear. True, opponents attack only on one side, which does not add interest.
With its atmosphere, Zombie Army 4: Dead War resembles category B films. The shooter has a clearly low budget, and he actively exploits the hackneyed and a little shameful feelings of the players – fear and aversion to Nazi zombies, as well as the pleasure of dismembering and shooting scrotum. Many elements of Zombie Army 4: Dead War are even stylized as classic horror.
Most of all, with an operational movie, the game is related by its non-originality. Experienced users during the entire passage will be tormented by flashbacks from other titles – Left 4 Dead, Doom, Call of Duty, Last of Us, etc. Mechanics, locations and monsters have already met in one way or another and only those who can never impress I didn’t play cooperative shooters or really missed them.
The mere use of hackneyed ideas is not a disaster. The problem is that, in addition to them, the game has nothing of its own, new or unique. The mechanics used are in no way reinterpreted, supplemented or improved. Moreover, many of them in the original version were made much better. This secondary nature, coupled with the monotonous, albeit exciting for the first time gameplay, does not allow calling Zombie Army 4: Dead War a good game. On the other hand, interesting opponents, sufficient complexity and sound execution do not allow to recognize it as bad. The word “mediocre” suits the shooter as well as possible.