Just as any trend tends to decay a little after some time, so too has the uprising in Zombies, and more-so in particular: Nazi-Zombies. Much of the sub-genre’s rise in popularity was largely due to the 2008 release of “Call of Duty: World at War” and its featured “Nazi Zombies” mode. Though now, it appears that we see an all too often paralleling rise in commercialism, as it does that wretched thing that it’s so good at: overutilization until everyone except die-hard fans leave the room the minute the “Z” word is tossed around. I bet that this effect has even shied some people away from even glancing at this article (c’mon, you know you were hesitant!).
However, much like any trend, one must go on a deeper hunt to see the content that just seemed to “get it”, even if the trend is a little played out upon its release. Certainly, not ALL of the Nazi-Zombie media has completely lost its touch, especially with great films like “Dead Snow” and its sequel, which actually do pretty well (a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s cool, right?). Well, I bring this review of “Zombie Army Trilogy” (Z.A.T.) for the Xbox One, PS4, and PC with hopes that you may give a chance to another piece of media that (in my opinion) just “gets it”. Fun fact: Z.A.T. comes from Rebellion Developments, who also helped develop the previously mentioned ’08 Call of Duty game.
Featured at the start of this game is something that I truly was enticed by in a similar (zombie-less) title Wolfenstein: A New Order. In this game, one is to imagine a universe where WWII ended just a little differently. Like, say, Hitler does indeed die, but overall Nazi-Germany wins and takes control of EVERYTHING. Or, like in Z.A.T., Hitler’s final move in his bunker is something known as “plan Z” and now there are satanically summoned zombies running amuck so that Hitler and Nazi-Germany can take over the world. There’s something about the possibilities that just gets me going. I know that some people may see this as troubling or shallow, but damn, am I sucker for it!
With an arcade-esque granting of immediate access to full-fledged choices of weapon loadouts, I couldn’t help but already begin to get all giddy. Maybe it’s just that I’m a horrible player, but it was really nice to not have to do so much work in order to unlock this much choice in a game, while also not feeling like I was given too much power in the beginning either. And, with quickly realizing that ammo is a luxury that one must consider whilst sniping zombie skulls, I really enjoyed working my way through the game as if I was actually surviving through this undead realm of war.
The game also has some really fun features throughout, by far my favorite being the quick slow-motion clips that play when you get a good shot from far away (this series derives from the Sniper Elite series, after all). It’s actually really gratifying to see exactly where my bullet goes, especially in those rare “Deadpool” esque moments where you somehow manage to kill three zombies with one stone. Another cool thing is that you can actually adjust the settings, so that if you’re a weirdo like me you can totally jack up the frequency of those slow-mo clips, or if you just want to get on with the story, you can also just completely get rid of it as well. Beyond this feature, you can also choose to have the visual textures normal, or (if you’re feeling extra creepy) you can choose to have the video quality emulate an old black and white film. I tried it for a bit, and honestly it made me feel that much more unsettled as I nestled into the game. It just felt creepy, and I like that.
And, of course, the soundtrack! Usually, I’m one of those shooting-game players that either sets up a podcast, music playlist, or something else to play in the background as I go through levels, but honestly with this one I just let the television ride. The sounds sort-of remind me of another great zombie-game and soundtrack “Dead Pixels” (a MUST-PLAY game). At points, you get the classic percussion and orchestral sound effects that give you those eerie “what’s coming next” anticipations, but also you get those synth-filled tracks that remind me personally of something like “Day of the Dead” or “Return of the Living Dead”. AND – if you use a controller that has a speaker on it and put the game on pause, your controller begins to haunt you and tell you to “play the gaaaame” and “pick me uuuup” in creepy voices. Wasn’t expecting that.
Though I still have a LOT to play through in this game, what I’ve experienced so far has been great. Standard zombies, resurrected skeletons, zombies that sprint towards you with dynamite, some that are haphazardly holding and shooting weapons, bosses that take more than 10 headshots to kill, satanic resurrections of evil, and so much more. It’s a game that is just fun, with a story that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is more-so (much like the original “Nazi-Zombies” mode) just a good time, only now your focus is sniping and maneuvering your way through ending this apocalypse. The visuals are really pretty, and the various lighting and fog-work in order to make certain hordes of zombies more frightful and cinematic is something I really appreciate.
And so, if you have not yet played Z.A.T., I urge you just to give it a try. With three games in one that are priced very well (especially when you look at prices for other top-shelf games today), it’s nice to see a compilation like this that isn’t bundled together and re-released solely for the sake of profit (which tends to occur in the gaming industry). More-so this game feels like a way of appreciating the series. And, for those that feel they may be getting tired of the sub-genre, this is a really nice breath of fresh air.