Developer: Rebellion Developments
Publisher: Rebellion Interactive
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: eShop download
Category: Shooter, Action, Adventure
No. of Players: 1-4 players
Release Date: March 31, 2020 (Worldwide)
Price: $34.99 USD
In 2013, the popular third-person tactical stealth shooter Sniper Elite V2 by Rebellion received the two standalone DLC in the form of Nazi Zombie Army and Nazi Zombie Army 2. They each contained a new campaign with 5 missions that had the protagonist fight his way through waves of Nazi Zombies that had risen from the dead.
The two DLC were later remastered and bundled with a new third campaign and was titled Zombie Army Trilogy, dropping the word Nazi from the title. Zombie Army Trilogy released on PS4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows on March 6th, 2015. Just over five years later, Zombie Army Trilogy now sees release on Nintendo Switch.
Set in an alternate reality of 1945, near the end of the Second World War, Germany is close to defeat. Rather than surrender, The Fuhrer Adolf Hitler rashly decides to initiate Plan Z as a last-ditch effort to turn the tide of war. The plan consists of reanimating the corpses of fallen Nazi soldiers to rid the word of those that oppose the Third Reich.
A group of survivors teams up to form the Survivors Brigade to make a stand against the zombie hordes and take the fight back to Hitler himself. The team learns of Intel that a piece of occult literature known as the Book of Souls lies within the Berlin Central Library and that it could be their only option to put an end to the zombie uprising.
Upon finding the book, the Survivors Brigade tries to use it to stop the uprising. Unfortunately, it has no effect and they have to try to flee Berlin. They escape by boat only to find that they have to go back to Berlin to find an occult artifact called the Sagarmatha Relic. The relic is in three pieces and separated in three different areas around Germany. It is up to the Survivors Brigade to find the pieces and get out of Germany.
Zombie Army Trilogy is a third-person tactical shooter with first-person elements. It shares the gameplay of Sniper Elite V2 but is less reliant on stealth and more on direct action, including close combat. Players can either go it alone or team up with three other players (via Local Wireless or Online play) to take on the hordes of enemies over three campaigns. The campaigns each have five levels and take place over several locations around Germany.
Unlike most games that have you play through each level progressively, Zombie Army Trilogy allows players to choose any level from the three campaigns that they wish to play right from the start. Before embarking on a mission, players can choose from eight characters (four male and four female) to play as, including Sniper Elite series protagonist OSS operative Karl Fairhurst. They can also choose the difficulty, as well as how many enemies they wish to fight (enough for one, two, three or four people).
Of course, you can’t just go out onto the battlefield without anything to defend yourself, you must choose your weapon loadout with a choice of primary, secondary, and tertiary firearms. The primary weapon is always a Rifle with a scope and can be either bolt action or semi-automatic. It is the prime choice for taking out enemies long-distance. The secondary weapon consists of either a submachine gun or shotgun to deal with zombies at close-quarter. Pistols are the tertiary weapon and are used best for picking off any stragglers that are still standing.
As well as firearms, there are four choices of explosives. They are useful for taking out multiple enemies at once or setting up traps. The Stielhandgranate (stick hand grenade) has a short fuse and can be thrown to blow up zombies from afar. The land mine and trip mine can be placed on the ground and take out those that come into contact with them.
They are ideal for setting up booby traps to protect your six from enemies coming up from behind. The Dynamite can be placed or thrown but is only detonated by being shot at or engulfed in an explosion. Dynamite does more damage than the other explosives and when combined with a trip mine or land mine, can severely damage stronger enemies.
Throughout each level, there are a series of objectives to complete that you take on one at a time. These can be anything from clearing the area of zombies, find a number of keys, stand your ground, etc. After completing a series of objectives, you will reach a checkpoint that will allow you to start from there again should you die and need to restart. Sometimes, checkpoints can also be safe rooms that allow you to stock up on ammo, explosives or change any of your firearms for something else.
When killing enemies, you will score points. The amount of points you get depends on the distance from the enemy and where you hit them. Headshots are worth more points than shooting them in the chest, for example. Ideally, you want to aim for the head as often as possible. Shooting zombies anywhere else on the body may allow them to be reanimated and needing to be killed again.
Explosive kills will also net you points. If you kill multiple enemies without missing, you can rack up a combo to increase your points further. Though scoring points is not essential to beat levels, your progress will be ranked on online Leaderboards (More on that later) and can determine who fared better when playing multiplayer.
You will face multiple enemy types on each level. We won’t list them all but will highlight some of the more common enemies. The most common enemies are Zombie grunts. They slowly limp their way towards your direction and 90% of the time carry melee weapons to maim you when they get close. The other 10 % carry machine guns and fire aimlessly in short bursts from time to time.
Skeletons are the weakest enemies but are faster than their fleshy counterparts are. The Suicide zombies rush towards you with explosives attached to their bodies and another explosive in hand. They blow themselves up when they reach you and can take you out in a single hit. Zombie snipers take potshots at you from afar, there can dart through the air via jet propulsion but are given away by black smoke that emits from them.
Stronger Enemies consist of Elite Zombies that are broken into 3 sub-types: Super Elites, Chainsaw Zombies, and Fire Demons. Elite Zombies carry machine guns and can rip you to shreds in no time at all. Chainsaw Zombies carry (you guessed it) chainsaws and are quicker on their feet than Super Elites but take short rests from time to time. Fire Demons are engulfed in flames and can set other zombies alight with fireballs. These three enemies serve as mini-bosses and require multiple headshots or explosives to take them down.
Should you wish to conserve ammo or explosives, you can kick enemies to knock them onto the floor, once they are down, you can stomp on their heads to avoid them ever getting back up again. Kicking is very useful against skeletons, as a single hit will kill them. You can knock back multiple enemies this but it can be risky and cost you your life if overwhelmed by too many enemies. You also don’t receive points for killing enemies with a melee attack. It is also ineffective against Elite Zombies.
CONTENT & FEATURES:
For a game that essentially consists of two DLC chapters and an extra chapter, there are quite a few features to bulk out Zombie Army Trilogy. While it is not an exclusive feature to this game, the X-Ray Kill-Cam is a staple to the Sniper Elite series and provides slow-motion cut-scenes when landing certain kill shots.
It follows the trajectory of the rifle bullet from the moment it is fired to when it hits and exits its target. Upon impact, we are given an x-ray view of the rotten skeleton and organs of the target and the bullet fracturing everything it comes into contact with. Limbs and other body parts can also be blown off zombies which, was not a feature that was included in the original release.
Another Sniper Elite feature is the Ballistic and wind direction mechanic that can affect your shots at range with the rifle. Over long distances, bullets lose velocity and begin to drop they can also be affected by wind direction meaning a well-intended shot between the eyes at 100 meters may be lucky to clip the target in the shoulder. For true Sniper Elite fans, this feature is an absolute must to make the experience as authentic as possible. Fortunately, players can choose to activate this feature or not in the select difficulty settings when choosing to play Cadet, Marksman or Sniper Elite.
As well as the Campaign Mode, there is a Horde Mode where you must fight against scores of enemies that get tougher and tougher with every wave. This mode can also be played between 1-4 players via Local Wireless or Online and has 5 maps to choose from. You can also choose the Enemy setup and difficulty settings to match your level of skill.
Things like Leaderboards, Achievements, Career Stats, Credits, and Prologue cut-scenes can be found in the Extras menu. The Leaderboards show you who the top-ranking players are overall and on specific levels and game modes. You can see where you rank among the rest of the world and among your friends.
Career Stats displays statistics like how many headshots you have accumulated, how many hours played, how many kills with a particular weapon (Rifle, Pistol, SMG, etc.) and so on. Great for the number crunchers that like to know the nitty-gritty details of their progress through the game.
For achievement hounds, there are achievements to be earned for completing certain challenges. This can be anything from beating a particular level to getting 10 headshots consecutively without missing a shot. On other video game platforms like Steam or Xbox, earning achievements would reward players with trophies. This feature is still missing on the Nintendo Switch so only committed players would probably try to earn all achievements to challenge themselves further.
Zombie Army Trilogy on Nintendo Switch also has a few extra features that differentiate it from other versions. It makes use of the HD rumble support so you can feel the rumble as you snipe enemies from a distance or the shimmers of an explosion at close proximity. Motion controls are available and while you don’t get full range like in Splatoon 2 for example, it helps add that little extra finesse when going for those headshots with small gradual movements that you can’t really get joystick controls.
The sound effects in Zombie Army Trilogy sound superb on Nintendo Switch. From the sound of bullets zipping through the air to the guttural groans of the Zombies, it just compliments the overall experience. You feel like you are in a war zone as you duck for cover from shrapnel blasting above your head.
While the music soundtrack might not be winning awards any time soon, it does build suspense and create a creepy atmosphere. It picks up the pace when the action ramps up, like when ambushed and hordes of enemies swarm your position. That said, it never becomes overbearing or tries to drown out the sound effects.
When it comes to voice acting, there isn’t much of it in the first and second chapters apart from the Narrator and a few key characters. In Chapter 3 there is more voice acting and in the form of NPC survivors trying to re-establish civilization in Berlin. The protagonists themselves are silent and never speak one another, not even in the short end of level cut-scenes. They can be seen possibly muttering to each other but never with actual voices. The only times you hear do your character is when they cry out when hurt, dying or their breathing as they peer down the rifle scope.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE:
Zombie Army Trilogy does look good on Switch. The first 2 parts of the Campaign were remastered for the original release of the trilogy on PS4 and Xbox. The Switch version may have had some optimization done to run on its hardware but the results are fantastic. While it might not be 4K visuals (most likely 720p/1080p at a stretch), everything does look incredibly sharp in both docked and handheld mode.
Loading times before level start are very short, meaning you can get right into the action without a long wait. I rarely noticed any drops in frame rate, if any. Even when vastly overwhelmed by the number of enemies spawned on screen, the game still seems to run very smoothly.
Some games usually struggle on Nintendo Switch when there are too many instances on screen and sometimes sacrifice resolution for performance to keep the frame rate constant. This does not seem to be the case with Zombie Army Trilogy during my time with the game. The devs have done a top job in making it look and play so well on Switch.
Not having played a Sniper Elite game before, I didn’t really know what to expect but I sure am glad that I got the chance to play Zombie Army Trilogy. It has been on my radar for a while but being the die-hard Nintendo fan that I am, I never played it on other platforms. I am glad that it has now come to Nintendo Switch, as I can finally play it on my preferred gaming platform.
Gameplay can be very “kill, rinse, repeat.” I was hoping for a little more than just, “Go to this area and kill everything that moves. Push on to the next area, do the same again.” It becomes very repetitive at times and after beating a mission, I would put the game down just to take a break from it.
Even though there are only 15 missions in total, they can each last around 30-50 minutes. This does depend on how quickly you complete objectives or the difficulty you have set. Still, you can get creative with how you take out enemies. Whether you find a hole to hide in and take out as many as you can from afar, or go charging in guns blazing until you run out of bullets.
When it comes to how to play this game, I found in docked mode is best. Handheld mode can feel a little restrictive when it comes to spotting enemies in the far distance. On the plus side, motion controls are much more responsive, making sniping and kill shots much easier. However, while the game does look good in handheld mode, playing it on a larger screen just feels much more immersive. I also like the Newsreel filter that changes the visuals from full-colour to black & white film grain. While I couldn’t play the game for long periods of time with the filter on, it is a nice little feature that replicates the black & white footage captured in the 1940’s.
Playing in Single Player mode is fine but playing with others is a more rewarding experience. Working as a team with your friends means you can set roles amongst yourselves and take up different positions to stop enemies from pushing past your defenses and entering your stronghold.
Unfortunately, a major flaw is that Voice Chat is not available and requires the use of third-party services like Discord so that players can communicate with each other. There is a text chat option in-game, but it can only be used when in the lobby. When using the likes of Discord for voice chat, it does make Zombie Army Trilogy a great load of fun.
Zombie Army Trilogy makes killing zombies all the more satisfying. Best enjoyed when playing with friends but even when playing alone, you will have still have a good time. Zombie body parts being blasted through the air. A giant Zombie Hitler to send back to Hell. What more could you want in an Action Shooter Game?
THE VERDICT: 8/10
*A download key was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review
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