It hasn't been long since we've told you about Zombie Army 4: Dead War, the title developed by Rebellion.
On that occasion, during a hands-on event in Milan, we had the opportunity to try a complete but not yet finished version of the game.
The title convinced us from the first hours of the game: despite the gameplay already seen, Rebellion managed to amaze us by inserting some interesting features that broke the monotony and gave liveliness to the whole experience.
For the uninitiated, Zombie Army is none other than the spinoff of Sniper Elite, saga set in an alternate universe where Hitler brought the whole world to its knees.
The Rebellion titles have managed to get a good following with several thousand copies sold, always guaranteeing good levels of fun and quality, despite some small technical uncertainty.
The Zombie Army series has accompanied us in hundreds of hours, and with this fourth chapter the development team has worked hard to make us fall in love even more with the brutal dismemberments typical of the brand.
Confident of this new chapter, we plunged into the fray in an attempt to exterminate the zombie threat that invades Italy.
The Zombie threat does not give up even in Italy
At the beginning of the campaign, the story of the previous chapters and the seizure of power of Hitler: the Fuhrer, dedicated to the occult thanks to the knowledge acquired by Third Reich, he managed to create an army of undead soldiers using the thousands of corpses of war victims.
All the Nazis who were killed have now come back to life, much more violent and cruel, ready to throw the world into chaos with their thirst for revenge.
Despite the efforts of Karl Fairburneper that led to the elimination of Hitler, who has now become an unclean creature both humanly and physically, the insane ritual that gave the Nazis back to the world has not stopped, leaving the world in complete turmoil.
At the beginning of the story we will therefore find ourselves in Milan, given that, as anticipated, the title is set completely in Italian territory.
The work of the Rebellion developers in meticulously transforming the purely Italian settings and architecture is certainly to be rewarded.
Streets, alleys, monuments and in general every detail of the various settings has been well reimagined in post apocalyptic tones. An example is that of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, in which we will clash with hordes of monsters thirsty for our blood.
Another example with a particularly positive impact is the city of Venezia, in which the player will face the enemies between one channel to another, forcing him to see a scenario known and appreciated in the world that now pours into a tragic situation.
Beyond the technicalities, we cannot say anything negative about the visual rendering of the places we explore. Despite the feeble narrative of this fourth chapter, the post apocalyptic imagery is in line with our expectations and manages to balance the scales, giving us a good experience all in all.
At the beginning of the game we will have to choose our character, a bit like it happened in Left 4 Dead. We will also have a menu completely dedicated to choice of three weapons, to which explosives and other accessories can be added.
Our weapons can be upgraded on a workbench, which can be found in the safe areas within the different maps we will move between.
The importance of an upgraded weapon
On the game map you can find some upgrade that will allow you to install abilities on the weapons that will give considerable advantages for firefights, such as the possibility of firing an electric shot as the first bullet of the rifle.
Upgrading weapons is an almost fundamental mechanic to continue without problems during missions, as the hordes of enemies will increase enormously as you go through the story, making it necessary to have an increasingly performing weapon to counter the threat.
The personalization of the character it is not total. As you progress and level up you will have access to some new headgear, animations and taunts.
A few more customization elements would certainly not have spoiled the gameplay, and certainly the look of your character on the screen would have remained more pleasant, even if only to differentiate him in the online modes.
Being careful is the first step towards survival
The interaction with the environment that surrounds us plays its key role in the clashes. Observing the elements that surround the player can prove to be essential to be able to survive in some more intense passes.
The Rebellion team has added many more lethal objects to the scenarios in this chapter than in previous titles; objects that will allow us to strive to exterminate hordes of enemies in no time.
The experience of Gunplay e the shooting locks they are also much improved compared to the previous chapters, although in the first-person phases it is still possible to perceive some uncertainty in its solidity.
Melee attacks are useful, but not always effective, since the enemies on the map will be able to knock out with very few hits, forcing the player to almost always seek a ranged approach.
Melee attacks are divided into normal and lethal, of which the latter will allow you to deliver decisive blows, final techniques that eliminate the opponent in a single blow.
The available paraphernalia will be enriched as you progress in the game, and it will be possible to use the heavy weapons left by the enemies to devastate the hordes in very few hits.
As you continue through the different scenarios, you will have secondary objectives to complete, which will allow your character to receive a higher rank and a large amount of experience points.
Optional missions will often force the player to approach a certain tactic to kill enemies, adding great diversity to the gameplay.
The title turns out to be a lot of fun played in single player, but we enjoyed the production a little more in its co-op mode.
We were able to complete the missions in both ways, and we realized that in company it is possible to experiment different ways to advance in the mission.
Even the Rebellion team had recommended enjoying the title with some companions, since Zombie Army 4: Dead War manages to give the best of itself by offering fun out of the standard.
In company it is more fun
We also tried horde mode with some online players. In this case you will not only have to deal with hordes of enemies that arrive in waves, but there will also be a game map that will expand as the slaughter continues.
This mechanic adds one greater difficulty, since you will have to manage enemies from almost every side of the map, making the collaboration of the other three teammates almost mandatory.
Should you fall at the hands of the enemy and no one intervenes to help, your character will become one of the game's AI-controlled zombies, colliding with the survivors of the session.
The combat phases during the hordes of enemies are handled quite well by the engine: we have never seen the game's framerate waver, and everything is managed by a graphics engine that, despite not being in step with the times, manages to defend itself very well by giving almost always compact textures.
In general, the environments are treated only marginally, probably to avoid further burdening the title.
A right balance between difficulty and fun
The dismemberment of the zombies is total, hitting an enemy in a certain point is very important for the success of the mission.
In this chapter the X-ray slow motion, which will allow us to watch our bullets slowly destroy the bones and organs of our enemies.
An element that has always characterized the Rebellion team is theaccessibility of its titles. Zombie Army 4 is designed to adapt to any type of player, from the most accustomed to shooters to those who are still beginners.
The difficulty in normal mode is very high, however, managing to give the right touch of challenge without exaggerating.
The only flaw present during the clashes is the lack of options in case you are surrounded by zombies.
Often when cornered it is difficult to shake off enemies, forcing the player to fall to the ground in hopes of still having the ability to come back to life by killing an enemy.
The dubbing is completely English, but there are Italian subtitles. It goes without saying that there are some stereotypes of "mamma mia!" or "oh my god!" by some Italian characters played by English voice actors, who, however nice, clash with the rest of the dubbing.
Moments like that made us want enough to have a home dubbing available to avoid moments of embarrassment, since all the action and characters are in home territory.
As mentioned above, the developers might as well have done some more effort for the graphics engine.
We liked the solidity of the framerate even in the most excited phases of the action, however it is difficult not to notice how the engine is not able to bring a graphic quality equal to modern standards.
We tried the PlayStation 4 Pro version and found no major problems. The only major bug we ran into occurred during the start of a mission, showing us a completely different character than the one we had chosen.
We have had a lot of fun in recent weeks in the company of Zombie Army 4: Dead War: it is undoubtedly a must have of the genre, also suitable for those looking for a title to play in company that perfectly combines challenge and fun.
The two main modes present give the production a considerable longevity: the campaign takes around twelve hours to be completed trying not to leave out some secondary objectives.
We can tell fully satisfied with Rebellion's work, even if we hope that in the future it will finally be able to renew the now obviously obsolete graphics engine that it has been carrying around for some time.