The 1940s’ biggest monster has brought back the army of the undead for a fourth bout of zombie survival shooting. While Rebellion’s return to the deceased warfront in Zombie Army 4: Dead War may see numerous mechanical and visual improvements, its core systems still echo with archaisms that aren’t always polished.
More-so an amalgamation of most video game archetypes we’ve seen in the wide expanse of modern video games, Zombie Army 4 is a refreshing return to arcade shooting that remains somewhat overlooked outside of a few modern titles. While it may not be the pure Left 4 Dead/World War Z deal that the previous Zombie Army Trilogy used to be, Dead War is a frantic sprint through an enjoyable nightmare.
As far as story goes, Zombie Army 4: Dead War has less meat on its bones than the shambling undead corpses that flood its levels. It’s 1945, zombie Hitler is back in action and there’s an undead army for you to pump full of lead. Just like the previous trilogy proved, taking out zombies is fun. Taking out Nazi zombies on the other hand is way more fun.
Despite losing the moniker of Sniper Elite from its title, the fourth entry in this undead spin-off still owes a lot to the less-tongue-in-cheek-but-still-very-cheeky paternal series. The iconic sniping mechanics return as the shambling backbone of Dead War’s combat system; it wouldn’t be a zombie army game without the additional inclusion of the series’ trademark X-Ray takedowns. Yes, they’re back. Yes, they’re better than ever. Also yes, zombies have testes.
At its core, Zombie Army 4 is intrinsically tied to its co-op roots, but modern conveniences have marred its friendly beginnings. Unlike the trilogy before it, Dead War abandons its former titles’ couch co-op experiences for an online-only form of co-op that often performs poorly. Relying on a peer-to-peer service instead of dedicated experiences makes multiplayer lag more prominent than we’d like, but the axing of local play feels like a betrayal.
Thankfully, Dead War’s core gameplay is strong enough to bring on the fun in co-op play and single player runs. It’s a pure adrenaline rush through the apocalyptic 40s; with a small variety of weapons, skills and characters, Rebellion’s return to this beloved sub-series is a solid action romp. Battling all manner of undead creatures, like sharks, and things, such as tanks (?), has never been more fun. Mostly because I’ve never had to fight an undead tank before.
Rebellion has returned to a good-enough sub-series with a better-than-average sequel. Better visuals, better combat and better creativity has created an enjoyable game, but it still struggles against an always-increasing sea of undead competitors. While removing local co-op leaves a sour taste, it’s not a deal-breaker, but that core feature removal isn’t replaced with any feature that feels as substantial. It’s diminishing returns.