If you have a successful franchise that revolves around one man and his sniper rifles, then what is the next logical step for additional content? Yep, if you said zombies then you are correct.
However, I’m guessing it’s one of the last things that most of you would have said. Nevertheless, Nazi Army Trilogy celebrates its zombie-themed downloadable content (DLC) by re-imagining it in 1080p whilst running it at 60 frames-per-second.
The game features the two DLC packs from Sniper Elite V2 and a completely new one created to serve as the conclusion. In total, you get fifteen missions to do across three episodes as you try to overthrow Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Army menace in World War Two. Also throw in a routine horde mode and you’ve got yourself a tasty looking package here, but does it taste as good as it looks?
Let’s find out.
Firstly, unlike the previous Sniper Elite games, this one is centred on the relentless killing of zombies. Hitler has realised that Germany are on the precipice here, the war is seemingly lost. Cue the most brilliant military tactical manoeuvre in history as he unleashes his contingency plan…NAZI ZOMBIES.
You find yourself escaping Berlin, returning there and eventually trying to find a way to stop Hitler’s flesh-eating army. Story wise that’s your lot, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t the type of game that is trying to breaking new ground in terms of an award-winning narrative. The game is more of an excuse for zombification elimination.
It’s no secret that a leading first-person shooter franchise popularised the idea of Nazi Zombies, hell; they brought zombies into the gaming mainstream once more as everyone followed suit. This game is no exception, you pick one of 8 main characters, with no notable differences, as you battle waves of zombies, powering your way through train stations, underground lairs and even castle fortresses.
Now the game looks great. The 60 FPS run as smoothly as you like and even when the screen is flooded with the enemy the graphics remain like a carpenter’s blade, sharp and precise.
This helps the player to move well albeit a bit clunky. Turning on your axis is difficult, especially when sprinting, and some of the animations are a bit dodgy. When you’re in the midst of a strenuous battle with the undead, the last thing you want is a delayed grenade-throwing animation!
Speaking of the undead, the game does feature a variety of enemies to keep things feeling a bit fresher. The only problem is that the majority of the newly-introduced enemies are scaled-up enemies that take a hell of a lot more effort to bring down than normal undead enemies.
They come in the form of Nazi zombies, skeletons, snipers and suicide grenadiers. These are the dastardly creatures you’ll encounter the most throughout the levels. Nazis require headshots (otherwise you risk them resurrecting), skeletons need heart shots (it makes sense, trust me), snipers are standard (but can fly to another perch) and suicide grenadiers need to be quickly put down at all costs!
How about the rest? Nazi Elites are big ass Nazis that require about 12-14 headshots to die and can be heard with their ground shaking footsteps. Chainsaw Elites……yeah I think you can guess.
There are plenty of enemy types but there’s far too many of the same three or four of them. Sniper battles are the most fun enemies to fight as it can be challenging just trying to find them as they ghost to a new location to hunt you down. It’s a nice role reversal for you and a welcome juxtaposition between them and predictable Nazi zombies.
But in general, the enemy behaviour and A.I is just downright predictable and boring. The zombies and skeletons just aimlessly dawdle towards you like most people would lust after fruit and vegetables. I want my zombies to be lesser in numbers and to be in the mind-set of chasing cake. I’ve also noticed a subtle difference in zombie animations; the game encourages headshots to put down enemies straight away and re-send them to the grave. So one zombie may have very little head movement and another will lean with every footstep to just make it that bit tougher for you.
But in general, they act very similar and it’s not much of a challenge. Suicide grenadiers will run at full-speed towards you, even the almighty Elites just soak up bullets as they walk slowly towards you. It becomes easy to anticipate and with the space some levels offer, you can slowly backpedal whilst picking off enemies.
It’s not much fun, speaking of which, I sadly move towards the gameplay. The Sniper Elite gameplay of the past can sometimes be an acquired taste. It’s methodical, strategic and either rewards/punishes the player for its decisions.
Nazi Zombie Trilogy is just a different game altogether. It isn’t Sniper Elite. The strategy goes out of the window with this game and if you choose to be methodical then you choose to be a zombie’s chew toy. I was also sad that I couldn’t really savour and appreciate the glorious slow-motion x-ray kills that the series has become accustomed to. I love this feature, but when I’m facing nearly 100 zombies in the space of 5-10 minutes, I’d rather just skip the fancy theatrics and continue my momentum of zombie-slayer extraordinaire.
I guess the reason that “Sniper” isn’t featured in the title of the game is because this isn’t really a sniper game anymore. There is a greater emphasis on up-close and personal encounters. The game still tries to retain its identity as most of the episodes feature big levels with lots of space to move around in and snipe. But there are countless times when my sub-weapons were used a hell of a lot more than my sniper rifle.
On the other hand, you’ll notice lots of corridors and narrow spaces where the use of machine guns, pistols and shotguns are required. All of these weapons are available from the get-go, the entire armoury is available to you to choose from and there’s a healthy arsenal to choose from.
My preferred combination was the Gewehr 43, Blyskawica and Webley MK. VI. I used these same three weapons throughout the entire game as they fitted my play style the best. Someone else will probably have three very differing weapons in order to accompany their play style. That’s the beauty of the load out, apart from a couple of hidden weapons in the game, you can try and get to grips with different weapons to see which best fits you.
Funnily enough I found the melee kick to be one of the better weapons in the game. One kick sends an enemy to the ground for a try, then you follow it up with a decapitating kick for the conversion. When you have a small number of enemies in the vicinity, it’s better to conserve ammo by utilising a couple of stiff debilitating kicks which can also affect multiple enemies. Note to readers: avoid less in the last few levels, all will be explained.
The actual sniping in the game is fun as hell! Thanks in part to the combo system, I always wanted to see how many headshots in a row I could achieve. The combo system rewards you for not missing your target by giving you higher scores with every hit and kill.
The inhaling of breath to steady you aim is also retained from the Sniper Elite games and becomes more of a necessity in this game, especially when a family of Jack Skellington wannabes are wanting to make a xylophone out of your ribcage. As for the level design, structure, mission objectives etc, it goes downhill from here.
The repetition in this game cannot be stressed enough. I got my experience underway in a creepy looking town with empty farm fields and obvious desolation. Things were good. I then encountered a few zombies and promptly nullified their threat. Cool. Then another area quickly initiated another barrage of zombie hell. Combos are cool and headshots are fun……*cue another zombie section*…….ok, this is starting to get a bit boring, but I’m sure it’ll pick up, I thought to myself.
Fifteen levels later and I am drained and kind of relieved it’s over. Every level is the same. It’s in the style of an old-school first-person shooter in that it’s clear out one room, move onto the next one and clear that. Only, these are seismic rooms with their own populations. Once you do so, you reach a safe house to stock up on the hundreds of bullets and grenades you used to clear the last section. After that, you’ve passed GO and you go to collect 200 more zombie scalps. The formula stays consistent at least, every now and again you might get a turret section or sniper duel but that’s it.
Initially the combat is fun, but once it sank in that that is all it consisted of, my heart sank lower than Leonardo’s body in the Titanic. Rebellion valiantly try to cover up these frailties by making you perform different objectives in-between, but they are sadly few and far between. “Find these pieces, pull this switch”. They are sugar-coating the monotony of these tasks by jazzing them up. I did think it was commendable that they found about 10-15 ways of saying ‘kill these zombies’.
“Lay the dead to rest” “Exorcise the demons” “Survive the onslaught”
A bit of light-hearted humour wouldn’t have been out of place, a good ol’ “KILL THE ZOMBIE SCUM” would make the suffering more sufferable.
At the end of the day, the objectives for each mission are very basic in the A-to-B formula. It’s such a shame considering that there is plenty of good stuff in this game, I have already mentioned the enemies. The summoners are a pain in the arse, they’re very similar to the Arch Vile in the DOOM games. Fire demons also freshen things up a bit.
But bosses…this was a chance gone begging.
Early on you’re introduced to the Occult General, an interesting boss. But after him what do you get? Eventually another Occult General or two and the end of game boss. A bit disappointing considering the scope for imagination is enhanced with zombies.
But boss grievances aside, my pet hate of difficulty spikes is on display here. From about level 13 onwards, bigger and badder battles that stretch the realms of what is considered fair were continuously thrown at me.
A room with 100 hundred normal Nazis, 2x Nazi Elites, a summoner and skeletons was not uncommon. It just became horribly unfair towards the end. I understand the effect it’s trying to have of course. It’s the end of the game, all of Hitler’s forces stand in your way and you are powering through them all. But it’s unnecessary. It’s where I think new bosses would be better served to make the challenge more bearable.
I found that in the later levels, I wasn’t even using my sniper rifle anymore as I was using the melee kick and machine gun wherever possible to deal with the large increase of threats. When your main weapon becomes more of a burden, is that not concerning?
Speaking of bosses…..THE FINAL BOSS IS HORRIBLE. What fourth dimension of hell created such difficulty? The tightness of your surroundings, the incessant waves of enemies, the strength of those enemies whilst avoiding the wrath of the biggest enemy of them all!
See, for all my complaints, the game shone in other areas. Nazi Zombie Trilogy perfectly created a dangerous and atmospheric environment. Lots of fog, eerie voices and religious iconography illustrate the world you’re in. Even the little touches are great. If left unattended for a few minutes, your controller will speak to you in an ominous voice saying things like “play with me”. I don’t know about you, but I find that disturbing, but a good kind of disturbing.
In terms of overall length and content in the game: the fifteen levels can take anywhere between 20-45 minutes each, there are gold bars to find and bottles to shoot in every level and there is also a horde mode too.
Horde mode is a standard wave based game mode similar to the ones seen in Gears of War and even the survival mode in the Call of Duty. There are five different levels to choose from with each offering a different layout and different pattern of enemies appearing. As you get further into the waves, the challenge increases with tougher enemies being thrown into the mix.
+ Tense and varied environments
+ Gameplay is fun to an extent e.g headshots, combos etc
+ Good selection of weapons
+ Varied enemies in the later levels
- Very repetitive gameplay
- Lack of any real variety in the gameplay
- Stiff controls
- Extreme difficulty in later levels
- Boring, predictable A.I
Nazi Zombie Army Trilogy is a game that’s stifled by a lack of imagination. As a whole, you get your money’s worth with the game: lots of levels, collectibles and the horde mode. But in doing so you’re subjected to tedious gameplay that constantly repeats itself with little variety. The design of the levels is usually interesting as you’ll always feel that you’re submerged in zombie Berlin. There aren’t too many bad points with the game, it’s just that the bad points are crucial. With more refined gunplay and interesting missions this could have been a really good game. Instead it feels like more of a chore instead of immortalising itself in gaming folklore.