It shouldn’t be too surprising that the Nazi Zombie Army spin-offs for the Sniper Elite series have been rather popular. After all, pairing up the brilliant yet disgusting x-ray cam with 4-player co-op gameplay in which you slay the undead masses comes across as a sure fire recipe for success. So, with the creation of a third and final campaign – in which you’ll be taking out Zombie Hitler himself – developers Rebellion have decided to take all the graphical and gameplay improvements from Sniper Elite 3, apply them to their two previous campaigns, and release it all as Zombie Army Trilogy.
It’s a watershed moment for developers Rebellion, as they are self-publishing the release on PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One for the first time. You could tell there was a sense of pride about it all as the team showed off the game to a crowd of press at the Prince Charles cinema in Leicester Square, London, a venue famed for showing cult horror classics. Four of the developers gave us a live demonstration on the big screen, showing us a bit of the third campaign and the newly added Horde mode, but after that we were invited to get hands-on and see for ourselves why, regardless of if you’ve played it before, Zombie Army Trilogy will be an essential purchase for co-op fans.
For the hands-on session I and three others took on the first stage of the new campaign, starting off on a roof top where we could all get used to the controls and weapons. Little touches like shooting challenges can be found here, reminding us that despite the horrific scenario we are in that there’s a tongue in cheek feel to it all. Of course, the environment we were in was bleak, dark, and downright apocalyptic, but we were told how there would be different palettes throughout the third campaign, including green forests and a jaunt through Hilter’s mountain castle.
Working our way down to from the rooftop, we came across a few NPCs that we could interact with. It was here that we got our first side mission, a new addition for Zombie Army Trilogy to mix up the content for players should they wish to get a bit more out of their zombie slaying. Soon enough, it was time to head out and fight our way to the resistance HQ, getting a feel for the action for the first time. Fans of Sniper Elite 3 will have no issues slipping back into the action, but newcomers shouldn’t have too many issues either. Well, with the exception of melee being on the shoulder bumpers. During one firefight I hit the wrong one and sent a grenade out unexpectedly. Thankfully it ended up in the lap of a few undead, but I’m hoping there are some alternate layouts available.
Otherwise, the carnage we caused as we made our way through the level was rather satisfying. With the exception of the hand guns, the weapons available felt like they had weight to them. The shotguns in particular were effective in dealing with enemies, especially when it came to dismembering. Speaking of which, the new limb removal system was both effective and gross, with zombies slowly crawling towards me despite their legs being halfway down the street. Thankfully, the folks at Rebellion have added a new kick ability to stomp anything that comes too close. In fact, there was one point where I was just punting everything around me with gleeful abandon - the zombie that returned down the massive hole he’d just climbed up out of being my favourite moment of that particular rampage.
Upon arriving at the HQ, we got to see the world building Rebellion have done this time around. As we walked around we came across potentially infected people locked up in cages telling us that we “smell delicious,” resistance fighters failing to operate a stove properly the kitchen fight giant flames shooting towards the roof, and someone painting the signs for safehouses. Those are just a few examples, alongside yet another side mission, but it’s all optional content that can be ignored if you’re more about ventilating some zombie heads.
I do have a word of warning though – don’t shoot the friendly survivors. They don’t like it, and will instantly raise the alarm to everyone else in the base… as we all found out. I was casually making my way through the briefing room when all of a sudden the radio guy turned on me, and I heard an “uh-oh” from the guys sitting across from me. It was a bloodbath, with all four of us having to restart at the previous checkpoint, and sheepishly making our way to the exit.
As we finally ventured outside, we came across our first defence section – holding the line as zombies swarmed us from all angles. It was here that the action was kicked up several notches, but we were given the tools to deal with it. Limited ammo piles gave us a fighting chance, MGs were mounted on top of a bunker for those in a no-nonsense mood, and the fences around us could be momentarily electrified. With everything to hand, the main aim may well have been survival, but really it was all about those sweet, sweet score multipliers.
With the current totals and ranking displayed on the screen, there was a sense of competitiveness amongst us all as we fought the undead. Getting consecutive kills meant bigger scores, and there was something very satisfying about getting 16 kills from one grenade in the middle of all the chaos. Headshots from sniper rifles are still a thing of disgusting beauty, especially as the x-ray cam animates the course of the bullet through the walking corpse. Of course, there were moments where the swarm got the better of us, but I found the timer to revive teammates was fairly forgiving, even in hairier moments.
As we got further into the level, we started to come across new enemy types, including ones welding weapons, explosive kamikaze runners, and the super soldiers of horrifying death. We had seen these machine gun toting enemies mow down the development team during a demo of the Horde mode earlier that day, and they were just as terrifying in our playthrough. In short, they decimated all four of us without a single care given. It also proved to me that it will take a serious amount of skill and cunning not only to make it through the campaigns on their highest difficulty, but to conquer the Horde mode as well.
I came away from the hands-on session with a positive view of what Rebellion have created with Zombie Army Trilogy, and I think a lot of it is down to the score attack mentality of the gameplay. By taking an arcade approach it adds replayability beyond that of simply beating the hardest mode, and when you consider that this applies to all three campaigns as well as the Horde mode, those who like their zombie slaying will no doubt enjoy Rebellion’s repackaged nightmare. It’s worth pointing out that if you own either of the previous games on Steam, you will be entitled to a discount of 30% each towards Zombie Army Trilogy. I personally think it’s a great gesture to existing players, as the improvements applied to the game should give enough reason to revisit the old content, and put down Zombie Hitler once and for all.
Zombie Army Trilogy will be coming on March 6th on PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One. Stay tuned for our video interview with developer Tim Jones later today!