How does the zombie-themed sniper game stack up in 2021?
Alright, I’ll admit it. I completely skipped over this game when it was released a year ago, so my frame of reference is a little different than some.
As well, I never actually played any of the Zombie Army 4 games. I honestly have been suffering from zombie burnout for many, many years now, much like my time with ramen noodles in college (and not just because I spaced once and microwaved some ramen without putting water in).
Just yesterday I was thinking.. “You know what? I need something different to play”. So, I decided to grab Zombie Army 4: Dead War and see if it was worth playing 1 year after it’s original release.
Let’s dive in and see what I thought.
Zombie Army 4 is NOT Sniper Elite
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Zombie Army 4 is a DLC for Sniper Elite; it features the same ballistics, and the classic exploding testicles (yes, Zombies have the twig and berries) of the Sniper Elite series.
What it doesn’t have, however, is the relatively long-range shots and stealth of Sniper Elite.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing; sometimes, you just want to shoot something, and that’s really where Zombie Army 4 shines, especially if you get squeamish when shooting simulated people (even if they are Nazis).
What Zombie Army 4 has is a strong coop game (that’s absolutely optional – feel free to play solo), simple upgrade mechanics that are a little ridiculous (in a fun way), and a more casual experience for sniper gameplay (even on hard).
On top of that, there are ongoing challenges, and a leveling system that encourages you to keep playing, and playing, and playing, striving for those combos and critical hits in order to continue to level up.
What are the negatives to Zombie Army 4?
Besides the fact that it’s not a detailed sniper experience? Well, there are a few.
First off, the voice acting is.. Bad. Actually, most of the sound design is pretty bland overall; the music never really feels like it fits, the weapons are lacking in satisfying boom, and zombies all sound like the exact same zombie you’ve killed in every other zombie game.
The gameplay also suffers from Serious Sam Syndrome: You’ll spend a lot of time in one places just killing waves of zombies, only to move on to the next place and do the same thing. We’re not looking at any Left 4 Dead director magic here; this is just hordes of undead. Sure, some still carry weapons and wave them around shooting their own undead Nazi brethren, some will rush you and explode, and more. It gets more ridiculous the further you go in the game, but really, there isn’t a huge amount of variety here. About the only excitement you’ll feel is when they occasionally sneak up behind you.
The controls have one negative: as a handicapped gamer, I really like being able to toggle my aiming on and off, rather than having to hold the aim button down in order to scope in to my target. This may not be a big deal for you, but it is something I rely on if I’m going to be playing for any extended amount of time (such as more than 45 minutes). The same issue exists for sprinting, although I honestly rarely found myself needing to sprint, as the default movement speed is pretty quick.
Finally, the graphics look fairly dated despite the release. Textures lack in detail, and the bullet-cam looks as if it belongs in 2015, not 2020 (or 2021, now). Chunks and viscera look fairly dull for a game that totes it as a core feature. Honestly, I didn’t even feel like taking screenshots at this point; the visuals aren’t going to be even close to your focus here. Still, even on ultra, it performs really well; if you’ve got an older gaming rig, you should be fine to play it.
Should I play Zombie Army 4 in 2021?
Well, that really depends. If you’re a fan of Sniper Elite’s shooting mechanics, but want to just hop in and blow up some zombie skulls, sure. If you want to have fun with friends seeing who can explode the most testicles, definitely! Tired of shooting people (or cute fuzzy animals)? Yeah, why not.
If you’re looking for another great sniper game with long-range precision shooting, stay away. This isn’t for you. Check out Escape from Tarkov for a challenging multiplayer experience, or even Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 if you want long range shots and modern rifles. If you’re really itching for detailed shooting mechanics, Arma 3 with the ACE mods will give you a taste of what it’s really like to take a 1km shot in the world.