The synth music rises, and out of the fog at the lake’s edge the shambling undead stumble into view, their glowing eyes teasing the mass of bloodied bodies shuffling our way. If you grew up on the schlocky horror films of Argento and Bava you’ll revel in this game’s atmosphere; if you read those names as designer Italian coffees have no fear, the tightly designed horde shooter lurking beneath the style will still satisfy you.
If you haven’t played a Zombie Army game before you’ll begin your first fight for survival scratching your head and asking: “Why has my on-screen zombie hunter brought a sniper rifle to a horde shoot?” While similar shooters offer machine guns and shotguns, handy for close-quarters corpse crowd control, Zombie Army 4: Dead War arms you with a scoped rifle. That’s because this series spun off from Rebellion’s Sniper Elite V2, and now adopts the superior controls, handling, and reworked locations of PS4’s Sniper Elite 4.
And it works. Picking off zombies with a sniper rifle, tapping u to hold your breath to zero in for headshots or even pick apart a zombie limb by limb, feels incredibly satisfying. That each level feels spacious and developed to accommodate sharpshooters is telling, but you’ll regularly be called upon to shuffle to your secondary weapon as the horde grows.
As we push forward through the levels, moving from one gated zone to the next to survive a mixed bag of zombies and ‘heavies’ – weapon-carrying monstrosities – the game’s intricacies and strategies begin to shine. There’s genuine stress to many of these skirmishes as we empty our M1 Garand and the zombies keep coming; we withdraw and turn to our Thompson but the horde keeps surging forwards. Finally, back against the wall, we rely on our revolver to pick off the stragglers as they lunge for us.
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