When the title of a game references both Nazis and the undead, and sees fit to also verify that it’s an army of them rather than just one or two, you can be sure of one thing: it’s either going to be a fun, tongue-in-cheek romp, or it needed to trick you into thinking it was going to be a fun, tongue-in-cheek romp because it’s not very good.
In this case, it’s the latter.
Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army is a shooter that swings between first and third based on whether you’re sniping (which is probably a lot of the time) or run-and-gunning. It takes the sniping component pretty seriously, much like Sniper Elite V2. A lethal shot at a certain distance or greater will initiate a kill-cam that shows, in gruesome detail, your bullet piercing the skin, bone and organs of your undead victim. If you manage to line a couple foes up, it’ll also show the bullet then proceeding into whoever was standing behind. It’s cheesy and triggers far too often on its default settings, but it’s a little morbidly enjoyable to watch a (Nazi) zombie’s eye explode in slow motion.
The campaign comes with 5 levels, each broken up into several segments joined by safehouses a la Left4Dead, and like L4D, Nazi Zombie Army is built for co-op. Playing through the campaign alone is slow, tedious, and repetitive. After about 20 minutes, you can generally guess how each new little level chunk is going to play out – you’ll need to stake out a spot near the edge of the map and try to take down a wave of zombies as efficiently as possible. At some point, an explosive zombie or two will probably charge at you, and maybe a few quick but fragile skeletons. Later, you’ll probably see a heavily armored zombie with a machine gun. Repeat this several more times per level.
With three other pals, it’s still pretty tedious and repetitive, but it moves a lot quicker and as a result feels a little more fun. But playing with friends raises its own problems. The slow-mo kill-cam becomes nothing more than a sped-up momentary disturbance, and running around with three other dudes blowing undead brains apart really removes you from the careful, stealthy, positional gameplay you might expect from a sniping game. There’s no stealth gameplay when you’re playing on your lonesome, either, but it’s a little less rushed and arcadey.
Either way, though, it often feels more like you’re walking between shooting galleries than playing anything with tactical depth. There’s a basic cover system that could have provided interesting gameplay if 99% of your foes weren’t melee, and the other 1% essentially capable of ignoring your cover. The game client itself is also unstable, prone to freezing, and on one occasion, having the graphics freak the hell out — see below.
But Nazi Zombie Army’s biggest issues is that I just don’t care about anything I’m doing. The story makes no sense and is barely expressed, my motivations are unclear, and my character, or any other for that matter, has no voice or personality. I’m also shooting Nazis who are also zombies, which you would think would be satisfying, but I’m doing it in Nazi Germany, where the Nazi zombies are theoretically only really going to be able to harm other Nazis. So, really, every zombie I shoot feels like a small victory for Nazism. It’s really quite confusing, and feeling motivated to kill yet another zombie gets harder and harder the more you play.
- You can see a Nazi zombie’s eye explode really, really slowly if you want.
- It’s only $15.
- You’re helping the Nazi’s rid their land of the undead for some reason.
- It doesn’t feel like a sniper game or a fast-paced shooter, but something uncomfortably wedged in the middle.
- Very repetitive, and keeps a depressing tally of how many zombie’s you’ve shot. (SPOILER: lots.)