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Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army

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By MrJenssen21-03-2013
Bobfish (editor)
NeonAnderson (editor)

The Defence

Developer:
Rebellion
Publisher:
Rebellion
Genre:
Action, Shooter
Release Date:
28-02-2013

The Prosecution

CPU:
Intel Core 2 Duo 3.0 GHz
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200
VGA:
Nvidia GeForce 8800
AMD Radeon HD 3870
RAM:
2 GB
HDD:
5 GB
DirectX:
10, 11

The Case

 

Nazi Zombie Army is a stand-alone expansion to last year's awesome, but flawed X-Ray Bulletcam simulator, Sniper Elite V2. Though the two share the same name, same engine, same developer and pretty much everything else, Nazi Zombie Army is quite a different experience. But is different always better?

The Trial

 

Ah, zombies. It seems every developer is willing to somehow cram them into their games nowadays. Treyarch did it with Call of Duty, Rockstar did it with Red Dead Redemption, United Front did it with Sleeping Dogs, Maxis did it with The Sims and modders have done it to just about every game in existence. Including Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army is no exception.This stand-alone expansion is about killing Nazi zombies and that is about all you do.

You’ll be encountering these situations a lot.

You’ll be encountering these situations a lot.

Sniper Elite V2 was set in a fictional scenario during the last days of World War 2, seen from the perspective of American master sniper Karl Fairburne, infiltrating Berlin to perform a series of top secret objectives. One moment you'd be lying on a rooftop waiting for a convoy to pass through your carefully planned trap, and in the next you'd find yourself going up-close and personal with Hitler's goons in an underground missile factory. The entire game could be played solo or with a buddy. If you want to know more about Sniper Elite V2, be sure to check our review.

With Nazi Zombie Army - ugh, hereby referred to as NZA - developer Rebellion decides to throw all that aside. In return, they offer us 4-player Co-Op, a handful more weapons including two shotguns and all the weapons found in V2’s DLCs... And zombies. Tons of zombies. As a result, NZA plays very differently from V2, so it's more of a small game on its own rather than an expansion.

I'm sure you're already frowning at the thought of this tacked-on mode. But to be fair, we should give the game a chance as the concept could work, at least in theory. You and your international posse of up to four generic heroes are tasked to find the source of the zombie outbreak, unleashed by Hitler during his final days, and put a stop to it for good. In doing so, you will be fighting countless hordes of slow-walking Nazi zombies, plus a few special types popping out of the ground every so often. These special zombies include skeletons that have a fast attack and must be hit in the heart to be killed, Suiciders that come charging at you with a primed grenade raised over their head, roof-jumping sniper zombies and the ever-frightful Elites, which are basically MG-wielding bulletsponges with unlimited ammo and a taste for human blood. So what could go wrong?

While most elements found in Sniper Elite V2 make their return in NZA, many of them are rendered useless by the gameplay. Since the majority of the enemies you face don’t have firearms, the cover system is pointless, and though the bulletcam is fun to watch, there’s never any point to shooting enemies anywhere but in the head, since they’ll rise up again if you hit them anywhere else. The stealth-mechanics are gone, and setting up traps only stops one or two out of the hundreds of zombies coming at you at once. The decent variation of mission types of V2 have been replaced with "Go there", “Clear this” and "Survive here". Mundane, uninspired, unengaging.

Who needs a story?

Who needs a story?

There is pretty much no story to be found either. Let’s be honest though. Games like Left 4 Dead aren't great because of the story either. The meat is all in the gameplay. For the most part you find yourself moving from A to B or defending your position in L4D as well, but the variation given by the "Game Director", the focus on actual cooperation between the players, and the charm of the four characters constantly interacting with each other makes the game so much more than just another zombie shooter. NZA is a challenging game for sure, especially on the two hardest difficulty settings. You'll need good aim and a good plan to survive with your buddies. But I still can't help but feel that the Co-Op is tacked on. There are no objectives requiring multiple players to complete. It all comes down to shooting zombies in the head at relatively short range.

Like Left 4 Dead, Nazi Zombie Army also has four distinctly different characters. Karl from V2 makes a return as well as a Nazi colonel, a veteran Soviet soldier and a fancily dressed guy with glasses and a fedora . One would think that Rebellion was trying to do something similar to what Valve did, but no. These characters, apart from their visual presentation, have no distinct personality. In fact, there's no voice-work done for them at all. They never utter a single word! HOW did you mess this up, Rebellion? You have an American, a Russian, a German and some Fedora-wielding rocket scientist working together to fight off the zombie horde of the apocalypse, and you didn't even give them a voice?! Unforgivable.

The few new weapons and different enemy classes aren't enough to keep you interested for too long either. Though you'll finish the game in less than five hours depending on the difficulty setting, the game will start to feel samey rather quick. There’s only one boss, and you have to fight him twice during the game. - both times, you will have to take him down the same mundane way.

If you're up for the intense challenge, you should try the highest difficulty setting. If not, then I seriously recommend you and your friends try out the "Marksman" difficulty, one notch below. The challenge is about the only thing that can keep you on your toes throughout the game. But beware! The game scales with the amount of players, so don't expect it to get easier just because you have a third of fourth player with you. Where you previously encountered an MG-wielding Elite before, you might have to face off with two or even three at once this time.

The agony of choice...

The agony of choice...

The technical side of things are for the most part great. Shadows and lighting effects are fantastic, and the game has a very atmospheric look to it. The soundtrack, while subtle, is varied and perfectly befitting the mood. Enemy animations are campy, hilarious and awesome. The game's visual presentation reeks of 70s and 80s B-movie quality. In a good way. Hell, the achievements make reference to movies like Braindead, Army of Darkness and even Shaun of the Dead. The atmosphere is easily the strongest card this game can pull, and it surpasses Sniper Elite V2 in that regard, considering how V2 just looked like a plain WW2-themed third person shooter. NZA’s sound effects have the same issue plaguing V2. It just seems like the audio has been recorded at an extremely low bitrate, giving it a very poor quality.Loud sounds like during the bulletcam will make you wonder if your headset blew its drivers. If you had no issue with this in V2 though, you won't notice it here either.

One thing that some might like but others might hate, is the fact that most of the locations you visit in the game, are often parts of the same locations from the original Sniper Elite V2. This would normally reinforce the impression that the developers were lazy, but the work done with these environments - from lighting and colors to remodeling and new visual effects - saves it from making the players feel like they're playing the same game over again. It's more "Ah yes, I remember this place!" than it is "ugh, here again?". Still, the use of the same environments is worth mentioning. If you hated running around in the ruins of Berlin the last time, chances are that you won't like it much more this time either despite the increased level of atmosphere injected into these environments.

The ballistics-engine and the X-ray bulletcam of V2 make an unaltered return in NZA. The bulletcam of V2 alone could keep most people playing through even the most dreary scenarios. However, when you play in Cooperative mode, the X-ray part of the bulletcam is deactivated. This was the case in V2, and it hasn't been changed for the zombie expansion. I understand why they did this with V2. When playing solo, the bulletcam pauses the game so you can see all the gritty details, but it isn't paused in Co-Op. If it then forced you to see the X-ray, you'd be very vulnerable to attacks from other enemies. So it's understandable. But the problem is that NZA is pretty much only worth your time if you play with friends. In other words, you will likely never experience the X-ray bulletcam in the first place. I can't help but feel that they should've come up with a different solution for Nazi Zombie Army. Maybe making it possible for the host to activate the game-pausing X-ray bulletcam for the most exceptional kills, and make it so that all players would see it at the same time.

The Verdict

 

Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army can be an enjoyable game. But it comes with a long list of pretences. First of all, you NEED to have friends who are willing to play this with you. Preferably friends who are fans of Army of Darkness and similar campy zombie movies. Second, you need to know what you're getting into. NZA isn't a smart game, nor is it an original game. It isn't all that much of a good game either. It's just a little something you and your friends can jump into together for a few hours on a boring, rainy Sunday afternoon. For the cheap price you pay, Nazi Zombie Army is not at all a bad purchase in its own right. It is its own, stand-alone game for the price of a Call of Duty map pack. It looks good, has about the same length as Medal of Honor, and it has four-player Co-Op. The problem is just that, in this day and age, when you can get a retail game for the same price during a Steam daily deal, NZA simply does not hold a candle to the competitors. The game isn't great, some will argue that it isn't even good. I had fun with it, but I purchased it knowing what I was getting into. If you're desperate for more Co-operative zombie action, then you might want to try it out. But if you're new to the genre, you might as well pick up Left 4 Dead 2 instead.

Case Review

  • Cheap: For the amount of content and technical decency you get, this is dirt cheap.
  • Tough nut: If this game wasn't challenging, there wouldn't be much to speak of.
  • Fun(?): It can be, if you try.
  • Short: The game is over in a few hours. But that can be a good thing, too.
  • The terrible tyranny of the majority: Another zombie tack-on? Can't we let this trend die for good already?!
  • Variety is the spice of love: And this game has none.
3
Score: 3/5
Nazi Zombie Army is like the gaming equivalent of fast-food. For all its flaws, it still gives you what you want for the price you pay.

Appeal

For me, Sniper Elite V2 was one of the biggest disappointments of last year. I loved the original but part deux was essentially a mediocre shooter built around a (admittedly cool) gimmick, the Kill Cam. So naturally, when my bespectacled eyes caught word of a standalone expansion built around the quintessential cash cow known as zombies, I was dubious to say the least. Fortunately however, Nazi Zombies is less a stinking pile of tried and tested genre clichés and instead offers something a bit different to usual zombie fare.

The game is essentially broken down into two modes; attack and defend. For the former, it’s pretty standard stuff, zombies come out of the ground and you unleash thy sniperian fury ...yes I made that word up. The latter however, is where the real guts and garters of NZ lies. V2 gave the player a few defensive weapons like Trip wires, mines etc but they felt about as useful as a chastity belt in an old people’s home. Here though, the game sends you swarms of zombies to face and sometimes, utilizing these well can be the difference between life and death. The real way to enjoy this game however, is with a few friends and a few more beers. Unfortunately, regardless of how much fun it can be at times, the repeated environments from the core game, short campaign and only having a handful of enemy variations stop this from being anything more than a bargain bin slice of Nazi killin’ mediocrity.

2.5
Score: 2.5/5

Appeal

Zombies, I love zombies. Now that I have that out of the way we can go to the Nazi army part. Basically Nazi Zombie Army (NZA) is Sniper Elite V2 with reworked levels and new enemies. It plays, feels and looks similar to Sniper Elite V2, just with Anti-Aliasing added in. Shooting zombies and then watching their skulls being shattered in slow motion is just priceless. The problem is that this feature is disabled in co-op which, this time, is the main focus. The focus on coop also impacts the story of the game – there practically is none. And that might be a problem, especially for people who are less fond of zombies, the game gets quite repetitive with only basic attack/defend objectives.

Nazi Zombie Army is far from a flawless game, actually it has quite a few of them. Fortunately it was a rather small price which more than redeems it. If you asked me I’d say it is two-thirds of a full game and has one-third of a price. If my maths is correct, its price is half of the game’s value. You decide the rest.

4
Score: 4/5
Comments (3)
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Posts: 558

Ah, why is that then? :O

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Posts: 1184

Well it does have bulletcam, but the X-ray part of the bulletcam isn't enabled in multiplayer. It was the same for V2.

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Posts: 558

One thing I don't get is why the co-op doesn't have the bulletcam. This is especially odd as Sniper Elite V2 MP, DID have the bulletcam! So why not the co-op part of Sniper Elite Nazi Zombie Army... Makes no sense at all!