If there's one thing that isn't in short supply within the video game world, it's zombies. We've seen puzzlers, tower defences, horrors, RPG'S and not forgetting of course, First Person Shooters. So it's only natural to be a little bit sceptical when hearing of yet another dead-infested title shuffling on to the shelves.
The premise of Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army is rather bare-bones. Hitler, in a desperate attempt to rid his enemies, unleashes a wave of undead soldiers into Germany. Your mission is simple. Remove the zombie threat and escape. Your mission is SO simple in fact, that it all fits nicely into one short cutscene at the beginning of the game. Cherish this moment, because this is literally the only narrative throughout. There is no other player interaction or character dialog; you’re simply there to kill, something that feels forced upon you given the lack of excursions, and thus, the incentive to explore. (Some miscellaneous quests would have been nice). There are, however, a few items you can collect in order to unlock specific areas, but these won’t have you venturing off to a vivid and mysterious location. They’ll more than likely be behind a bush across the road.
You can play the game by yourself, or with up to three friends, you know, in case things get a bit scary. This is actually the better option, as it is quite clear that the game was intended to be played this way. Having a few companions by your side also increases your chances of survival over the six hour campaign, and its handy having someone to cover you as you make a run for safer ground. Speaking of which, after completing certain parts of a level, you have the option to momentarily take shelter in a “safe room”, where you can change your weapons, pick up extra ammo, or take a general breather before you head out to face the next onslaught.
You also have the option to choose your loadout before starting the game. This includes selecting a sniper rifle, pistol, and a machine gun. Choose carefully, because although you may be tempted to select the high power American weapons, ammo is scarce and running out of ammunition whilst being surrounded by a hoard of flesh-eaters isn’t ideal. Alternatively, German weapons offer slightly less power, but ammo is readily available and can be plucked straight from your downed foe’s rotting corpse. (Sounds pleasant, I know).
I also came to the realisation that a sniper rifle is better left for special occasions, as trying to line up a perfect shot involves standing still, not really the tactic I recommend with the given situation. However, when you do use it, and you manage to pull off that perfect shot, time slows and the camera follows the bullet, as it connects in the style of an X-ray with your chosen body part. Other weapons do the job just fine. Machine guns work well for dispatching a large gathering, whereas pistols are better used close up, as they offer accuracy, but not much in terms of range. Grenades, dynamite, land mines and trip wires are also available, and nothing is quite as entertaining as creating a defensive barrier that is sure to blow your enemies meters into the air.
Not as entertaining though are the “special” enemies. You know, the cliché heavies that are always that little bit harder to take down, or require a special method to do so. Well there are a few types, suicide bombers, machine gun behemoths, and zombie snipers. Suicide bombers glow orange, and explode when they get within a 1 yard radius, the machine gun wielders act as occasional level sub-bosses, and the Nazi Snipers jump from building to building, making them harder to hit as they take pot shots at your face. A “juggernaut” type zombie will also be sure to make himself present, requiring you to waste all of your explosive devices just to remove him from your path. These “special” enemies aren’t uninspired, they’re just annoying, and create an unnecessary flaw within the game.
Each kill you make is taken into account by a scoring system. The way you kill, such as hitting a vital organ with a sniper rifle, will grant you more points than shooting a zombie at point blank range in the leg with a pistol, (though everyone knows you have to aim for the brain). Using the aforementioned equipment such as land mines and grenades will also give your score a nice boost, especially if you’re defending a certain location.
Another feature worth a brief mention, a really brief mention is the cover system. I’ve always liked it when games incorporate a well thought out way of shielding yourself, but here, it’s pointless. Most of the time you’ll be up and running. And the undead aren’t really too cautious about taking cover themselves. They prefer the kamikaze approach.
In terms of visuals the game looks great. The textures are crisp, and the atmosphere within the ruins of Berlin is excellent. The gore features what many gamers would expect. Blood soaks the walls, bodies lay in the streets, and the abandoned houses are decorated with drawings and innards. Along with these come great sound effects, eerie music and continuous frightening groans.
In conclusion, Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army is a playable shooter with an interesting and alternative outlook on historic events. Whilst it doesn’t offer anything ground breaking in the way of new content over other zombie titles, it does provide a good few hours of entertainment. For £9.99, you can’t really go wrong.