As I carefully began laying trip mines across every piece of floor space I could physically muster, or rather my ammo limit will allow, LAWGISTIC set about laying land mines at the bottom of those forbidding stairs, with a couple at the precipice for good measure. Thats when all hell broke loose. Nazi Zombies began flooding in from the open doorways, as we did our best to pick off pack leaders and the fastest among them from the church tower. Then, they appeared.
Glowing red like the blood pumping in my chest as I desperately tried to shoot them down before they could sprint into the room, flashing dynamite held aloft in their arms as they headed straight for us.
BANG! Luckily the traps we laid so well, took out most of them and gave us enough time to give a sigh of relief before we heard gunshots and the groans of towering Zombie commanders who we knew would spell the end if we couldn't finish them quickly.
LAWGISTIC, wielding a beastly shotgun known as ‘The Preacher’, had been mowing down our enemies like they were wheat in a field, with utterly no remorse but as the commanders (yes TWO OF THEM!) came strolling in, they rolled us over and made us their playthings within seconds!
Yes, in short we died. A lot. Eventually we did succeed but it took some team work and planing until we could claim victory, thankfully though these failures never marked points in frustration but instead spurred us to try again and formed the fondest memories I have of the game.
You can go it alone of course but playing solo, while a good bit of fun, can actually get stale quite fast, especially when playing through the earlier campaigns which are essentially straight ports from the original titles and really feel tethered down to that older generation experience. In fact, it isn't until you get into the thirds slice of story that things really pick up as this is a brand new set of maps and missions, designed just for this release and they really allow you to explore, experiment and open up your experiences all together.
So with all this talk of campaign mode, you’re surely expecting some semblance of an over arcing story. Well, you’re in luck as there is a narrative tether, of sorts. According to Rebellions version how the war ended, Hitler’s last desperate act wasn't to shoot himself but instead unleash an army of undead fascists. Following the rules of every zombie movie ever, you’ve got to take the shambling stream of undead down with well placed shots to their decaying craniums.
As you can already imagine, the plot is pretty paper thin but it’s really nothing more than a quick set up that gets you running from point to point and explaining why you now have the chance to slay zombies to your hearts content and really, you don't need much more than that. This isn a game looking to go toe to toe with The Last of Us or Heavy Rain, its aiming to be a fun shooter that you and your mates can jump on and just have a blast while creating blasts.
Let’s face it, any game that offers the chance to shoot Hitler in the face, delivering that final cranium shot in all its blood soaked, slow motion glory! If you’re feeling particularly playful, testicle shots are still a thing and offer a chuckle or two. Yes, I tried not to find it funny but I’m only a childish human.
Much like the Sniper Elite series on which this game was born from, the big appeal here is the games x-ray system, something that hasn't really been knocked off the podium as best sniper experience in any game, ever. Seriously, I mean that. C.O.D fans can sit back down and stop shaking with anger because if you've had any time with Sniper Elite or ZAT you’ll quickly agree that watching bones break and muscles tear in slow motion never really gets old.
The mechanic itself works perfectly, anyone can pull off a gloriously gruesome kill, punctuated by a popping eyeball or fractured leg but with no stealth possible when dealing with the dead, pulling it off consistently is a true challenge. You’ll be hard pressed to find a sniper nest that has your back covered, so you’ll need to master quick drawing or simply know what to listen out for as a sign to run. If you get too enthralled in decimating the mass of undead coming your way you’ll quickly end up surrounded with nowhere to run.
This isn't a sniper only experience mind you. You’ll come to battle carrying a secondary weapon from a choice of sub-machine gun, shotgun or bazooka as well as a pistol for those desperate last stands. You’ll also come packing grenades, land mines, trip mines and dynamite for laying traps and those occasions when you just have to blow up every mother Furher in the room.
It’s an enjoyable premise and works extremely well but as you tear through shed loads of zombies, one after the other before reaching a safe house to resupply and then stepping out into the next fray, you might feel a bit tired of it all.
The varying enemy types shake things up a little bit, from the suicide zombies that charge into you holding explosives, the previously mentioned commanders that rain bullets at you and much like the tanks they are take an age to take down and the snipers that leap from rooftop to rooftop, eating chunks out of your health as they pounce.
You soon become used to these new foes though and the beat becomes familiar again. The biggest challenge and success in the variation department really comes from the episode ending bosses, which will really push the limits of your team work!
‘The Occult Leader’ who appears to sign off the first episode treated myself and LAWGISTIC to an utter hammering. Tasking you with shooting an army of floating skulls from his own personal orbit before he would take any damage, we were forced to dodge a ridiculous amount of Zombies, suicide Zombies, Skeleton warriors, Commanders and snipers. All of which didn't let up the pressure for a second.
I had a blast taking him down and it was moments like this that really brought ZAT to life, showing off its true glory.
Visually the game doesn't do too badly, despite being essentially a faithful port from the original Zombie Army games that arrived two years ago. The maps are decent and vastly improve with each episode but occasionally rely far too much on the cliche of burned out and abandoned rooms with a heavy handed sprinkling of dead ends. The John Carpenter-esque sound track is an absolute pleasure as well, bringing this grind house experience together with its minimalistic synth tunes.
It’s clear that Zombie Army Trilogy has a fair amount to offer, doing what it says on the tin and fairly bloody well, but in all honesty playing solo will quickly leave you tired of the novelty if you don't take it in small doses.
Get a group of friends together however and the game transforms, making you realise that you’re playing ZAT how it’s meant to be enjoyed. Jump into the new, third episode, complete with decoys and vaster maps to explore and the game becomes an absolute treat!
All in all, if you want a game that lets you tear apart hordes of zombies and laugh along as they stumble about, missing legs and arms, then you cant really go wrong with Zombie Army Trilogy.
It’s not perfect but it’s a load of fun!