An all-round entertaining game with chaos, laughs and plenty of action
Hitler won't stay dead... this menacing dictator will stop at nothing as he relentlessly emerges from the depths of hell with an army of Nazi warriors - luckily though, a group of brave (but bonkers) heroes have arrived to save the day.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War is the latest action co-op shooter from Rebellion, following on from the events of the Zombie Army Trilogy released back in 2015. The year is 1946, one year since Hitler was defeated by the Resistance and banished to hell, but the 'Dead War' is far from over.
You join the fight across Europe, tackling Hitler's nightmarish soldiers everywhere that you travel, but it's no easy task as ZA4 offers up a deadly roster of zombies itching to feed on your heroic flesh.
Here, we take a look at what Zombie Army 4: Dead War got right, and why you should play it.
I'm not going to lie, throughout your experience with Zombie Army 4: Dead War, you'll be bombarded with zombies, with dozens and dozens of enemies on screen at once. Finding what character and weapons suit your playstyle is a must as this will help immensely when it comes to playing the campaign in solo, as well as with friends in co-op.
Even from the opening level in Milan, where you'll need to fight through the hordes to catch a train (how very European of you), you'll begin to see how chaotic things can get - especially when it comes to those Suicidal zombies with no arms and a haunting scream running at you.
For those of you who are new to the Zombie Army series, the earlier games were originally a spin-off of the Sniper Elite franchise before breaking away as its own thing. So, it comes as no surprise that Karl Fairburne - the sharpshooter who starred in Sniper Elite and the Zombie Army Trilogy - makes a welcome return for ZA4.
As does Boris Medvedev, the Russian powerhouse and veteran of the Soviet Union's Red Army. Two new characters, selfless team player Jun and skilled engineer Shola, also join the roster in ZA4.
Each character brings something unique to the table, and all of them can equip a variety of perks and power-ups for an additional boost. Playing as Karl, we began the campaign using the powerful one-hit machete finisher (click R3/ right stick) which must recharge after use - before switching to a electrified knuckleduster in the latter stages of the game, which can damage foes and put some difference between you and them.
A perk that I was very much fond of was the Weapon Aim Assist, which massively reduces recoil and slows down time so that you can pop some skulls with lead without worrying what's creeping up behind you.
You may have pelted your enemy with bullets and seen them flop to the floor, but be cautious as some zombies are able to resurrect - the only way to fully prevent this in the first instance is with a clean head shot or blowing them up - but if you do see an undead lying on the floor and suspect that they'll jump to their feet in a few seconds, be sure to give them a brutal curb stomp.
Curb stomps also come in handy for acquiring much needed ammo and health in the heat of battle - just look for a fallen foe with either a health or ammo icon floating above and kick it out of them!
Performing a ten-hit combo will grant you access to perform a takedown, which definitely comes in handy when the tides turn against you as this will give you a slight health boost without the need for a med pack. For solo players, attaching the perk where - if you're knocked down - you can kill one zombie to get back up, is a must... believe us.
It's clear Rebellion has taken a lot of time to polish the finer details in ZA4, as well as adding a shed load of new enemies to fight, and this isn't the type of game where you can simply run past them all to get to the next safe area.
A number of areas scattered across the game are locked by Blood Seals, a demonic-esque symbol covering a door/exit, which requires a number of zombies being slayed in order to break. There are also ritual fountains that require you to kill zombies within a certain radius so that it can collect their blood.
Aside from Hitler's zombies trying to rip you to shreds in somewhat intense fights, there are also times where you'll be able to explore a little bit and, hopefully, find some hidden items and collectables. Comic pages, Zombie hands and Documents are among the various bits and bobs than you can find - and these will give your end-of-chapter score a nice boost, alongside completing challenges, obtaining high combos and generally killing plenty of zombies.
A lot of our time so far has been focused on the campaign, but from what we've experienced with the revamped Horde Mode, the fun doesn't stop when the credits roll (or even before, should you choose to jump online with friends). The longer you and your friends survive, the larger the map becomes and - of course - that means more exploration with even more zombies to fend off.
Better still, new FREE Horde maps will be arriving as part of the post-launch content, as well as terrifying new enemies and even more content drops including new weapons, weapon skins and new outfits. There's also going to be a new three-part campaign and three new playable characters as part of the post-launch content too... oh, Rebellion, you sure know how to look after us!
Gadgets, guns and guts
Zombie Army 4: Dead War introduces new progression and update paths for weapons, and what a vital upgrade it is. As you progress through the missions, the enemies begin to get trickier, and you and your comrades will need some serious firepower to keep them at bay.
It's important to know what guns you want to progress with the most as you'll only gain access to Weapon Upgrade Kits at various points in the game. These upgrades, which can be used at workbenches located within the safe zones, allow you to unlock special perks and abilities, as well as increasing firepower and magazine capacity.
Unlocking the quickfire assist mod for my sidearm proved to be a wise decision early on, helping me target two or three zombies and unleashing fatal attacks with one button press.
One-time perks can be collected during each mission, found in large yellow cases, which you can equip to your primary weapon, secondary weapon or sidearm depending on which one you have in your hand. The electric mod for example allows you to shoot electrified shots that will cause a zombie's head to explode, as well as electrocuting nearby enemies.
The incendiary mod, you guessed it, heats up the battle by setting your enemy and those close to them alight. These one-time perks are limited in ammo and will more than likely run out pretty sharpish - but, never fear, as these mods can be permanently attached if you have a spare Weapon Upgrade Kit.
Upgrading your character can help unlock better recovery and stamina, and even being able to detach heavy gun turrets to use wherever you like. The varying types of enemies also make it a challenge as you'll need to adjust to close-quarter and distance fighting.
Finding the perfect balcony to snipe from is all well and good, but with supernatural Snipers flitting from rooftop to rooftop and the possibility of more undead soldiers climbing the stairs in the building where you're positioned, you're need to keep on your toes. Using electric tripwire traps across doorways and near cover will grant you a few seconds of peace to move into a safer position.
I recall one particularly tricky battle with a persistent oversized 'Machine Gun Zombie' who pursued me through a building, attempting to turn me into a fleshy pile of goo with his HMG. Fortunately, the electric tripwire proved to be the final damage needed to bring it down - allowing me to pick up its weapon and emerge from the building in charismatic 'Scarface - say hello to my little friend' fashion.
Handy traps can also be found in various areas, particularly in defend-type zones/bases. Shooting a glowing sign post above said traps will activate them for a few seconds, giving you the opportunity to reload or simply watch zombies being blended by a makeshift propeller or giant zombie sharks hanging from the rafters.
There's also temporary electric traps which cover a large section of the ground, capable of frying multiple unsuspecting enemies at once.
Taking on metal-coated zombies, Officers that summon the dead, Flamers (guess which weapon they carry) and Demonic Tanks may seem like a daunting task, but with a team at your side, or a full kit of upgraded weapons for solo players, and that addictive bass thumping music in the background - zombie slaying has never felt so good.
Travelling through an eerie post-apocalyptic Venice by boat with zombies toppling over the side of buildings, and running around a creepy zombie zoo unaware of what ghastly things are still alive, are just some of the scenarios that you'll find yourself in with ZA4.
Taking the slow(mo) approach
If you're fan of the Sniper Elite games, you'll be itching to activate this mode - and if you're new to the series, you're for a treat!
Zombie Army 4: Dead War sees the return of the X-ray Kill Cam, in which certain shots will activate a short cinematic where you'll witness the bullet tear through an enemy in one brutal hit - if you're lucky, you might even see the bullet fly through one enemy's brain or chest organs and shatter another zombie's limbs or... testicles.
Explosive Kill Cams can also be activated when you shoot explosive items and take out a large chunk of the zombie hordes in one devastating blow. If you get chance, be sure to try out the Photo Mode too as you can create some awesome images with well-placed shots and explosions.
You can put one of your famous headshots or explosive kills on this year's family Christmas card, perhaps... it would be a shame not to share it!
Building on the enjoyable co-op action shooter gameplay of the Zombie Army Trilogy and Strange Brigade, Zombie Army 4: Dead War is another fine addition to Rebellion's roster of great games.
Dead War offers up intense, crowded encounters with waves of undead in an eerie horror-like world, yet it still keeps the charm and quirkiness of the Zombie Army series where it doesn't take itself too seriously, providing an all-round entertaining game.
If this is the final act for the Zombie Army series, this gut-busting action shooter is a fitting send-off.
SAM'S RATING: ★★★★
Zombie Army 4: Dead War is available on February 4th, 2020 for PC via the Epic Games Launcher, PS4 and Xbox One.
A review copy of Zombie Army 4: Dead War was provided by Rebellion.