Zombie Army Trilogy Review

By Dave Horobin,
Rebellion’s latest console offering comes in the way of Zombie Army Trilogy, a third-person shooter which resurrects two previously PC exclusive, standalone add-ons for Sniper Elite V2, and bundles them together with a new third installment to the series.

Switching the historically focused gameplay found in the three previously-released Sniper Elite games, Zombie Army Trilogy introduces us to an alternate version of World War Two's events, complete with an undead army, and a demonic Hitler, whilst still keeping the sniper-centric gameplay to which we have become accustomed.

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The premise, like the title suggests, is very simple. In a last ditch attempt to turn the tide of the Second World War, Hitler plays his final hand and releases an army of undead zombies across Germany, and it’s your job to stop him. It’s the ultimate B movie scenario, and just like your favourite grindhouse movie, the game comes complete with plenty of gore that’s more comedic than shocking.

Adding Zombies to an already established franchise sounds like a cheap move, but let your cynicism end here. The result is a game that plays very differently from the stealthy approach that the Sniper Elite series is known for. Instead it’s a non-stop, action-packed trip which you can choose to complete alone or with up to three friends, in seamless drop in, drop out co-operative play.

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The story comes in the form of three episodes that are made up of the three separate games included in the bundle. Each episode includes five chapters to play through, which will take anything from twenty minutes to an hour-plus to complete depending on the difficulty at which you choose to play.

The first two episodes, which are remastered version of the older PC standalone content, show signs of age both in terms of their graphics and their very linear level design, whilst the third (and best) episode attempts to add some variety with NPCs, a slightly less linear maps, and environmental traps to the gameplay, as well as showing more polished visuals.

The backdrop to each is chapter is varied, switching from war-torn Berlin to creepy forests, but they can’t hide the fact that you are essentially doing the same thing repeatedly throughout the whole game. Similar to the Left 4 Dead campaign structure, you’ll fight your way through wave upon wave of identical zombies, as you push to reach a safe house. Here you can replenish your ammunition before essentially doing the same thing again a few times until the end of the chapter.

Is it repetitive? Absolutely. But when playing in co-op it doesn't seem to matter. At times it’s a frantic fight, where you’re constantly trying to look out for yourself and each other, as you slowly watch your ammo deplete, and the enemy numbers seemingly increase in number and difficulty.

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Playing alone is fun for a while, but quickly becomes annoying without team mates to revive you should you die, and the repetitive nature begins to show more and more with each passing level.

One of the bonuses of playing in co-op is the arcade like scoring system which remains prominent on the HUD throughout. Chaining kills together, executing long distance kills, headshots and multi-kills help to build your score, and it’s impossible not to notice your score in comparison to your teammates. Unfortunately there’s no reward given at the end of each level for coming top of the tree, so the victory is slightly hollow.

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As with Sniper Elite, your main weapon throughout your journey is a sniper rifle, and you’ll be able to choose between a large number of them before each mission. The lack of any graphical comparison between each one means it’s hard to make an informed decision, instead each weapon has a short paragraph detailing the pros and cons, and with a timer counting down until the start of the chapter, it’s impossible to see what each one has to offer in the time-frame allowed.

As zombie law dictates, the ideal way to send the advancing hordes back to the grave is via a blow to the head, and whilst at first the sniper rifle doesn’t feel like the ideal weapon to be taking in to the battle, you’ll quickly realise that the key to success is to eliminate as many as possible at distance with a well-placed head shot.

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Like Sniper Elite, a well-placed shot comes complete with the bullet cam which gives you a slow motion view of the bullet shattering into the target. In single player it’s a treat to watch, but in co-op it loses some of its lustre as it’s a much shorter and simplified animation so as to not disrupt your team mates.

When the action gets too close, you can quickly switch to a secondary weapon which again can be chosen before each chapter. The choices available are limited to machine guns, shotguns and the Panzerfaust bazooka. Finally, there’s an additional third weapon in the form of a pistol should ammo become scarce.

In addition to weapons, you also carry a varied stockpile of explosives to help make light work of the enemies. Grenades, mines, dynamite and trip mines are all available, and you can customise the number of how many of each you carry provided you stick to a maximum of seven.

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The game is slightly varied by a small range of enemies that you will encounter. In addition to the large number of regular bullet magnets that you will have to fight off, there are fast-moving suicide zombies, leaping snipers, heavies that come complete with guns or chainsaws, and sword wielding zombies complete with armour. Each have their own weakness to exploit, and getting to know them can be the difference between advancing and death.

At times the game has large difficulty spikes which will have you and your friends wondering what you’re doing wrong, but thankfully the game has a large range of options to assist. In addition to the three difficulty options available, you can also tailor the number of enemies you encounter to suit. For the maniacs amongst us, you can play single player and increase the zombie number to those encountered when playing with a full squad, or alternatively you can turn the numbers down to help.

In addition to the campaign, the game also offers a horde mode which consists of fighting off waves of zombies. The only real difference to the campaign is the lack of safe house to escape to, instead you’re in a smaller area needing to scavenge for ammo between rounds.

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The game comes with 68 achievements, the majority of which are rewarded for completing the various chapters, completing set tasks in specific levels, picking up collectibles, and reaching wave 10 on the available horde maps. There are also a number of cumulative achievements such as firing over a total distance of 50km and killing 5,000 enemies.

The "This calls for divine intervention!" achievement will require you to complete all of the campaign levels on the game’s hardest difficulty, which would be very difficult if it wasn't for the ability to change the enemy spawn down to the one player option.

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If you’re thinking about picking up Zombie Army Trilogy, you should be made fully aware in advance that the game offers very little else than the action its B movie title suggests. There’s not much to be had in the way of an actual story, and the main premise of the game is to shoot thousands of zombies in the face. For some this will be a direct turn-off, and for others it will be a major selling point.

If the above sounds interesting to you, then playing in co-op with friends, or making new friends through gaming sessions will provide you with hours upon hours of frantic paced, humorous action with enough replayablity to get your money's worth once you have completed each of the fifteen missions. Playing alone will be fun in short bursts, but to get the full experience and maximum enjoyment from the game, co-op is the way to go.

At $49.99 / £39.99 the game feels like it’s priced slightly on the high side, but with the current Gold discount available until this coming Friday, now is the ideal time to jump in.

It’s hard to knock a game that delivers on what it set out to do, and that’s exactly what Zombie Army Trilogy does very well. It won't appeal to everyone's tastes, but for those of you that enjoy the frantic co-op action that games of this nature provide, you'll find that Zombie Army Trilogy is a competent shooter, that will keep you entertained for hours of zombie killing fun.

The reviewer spent fifteen hours fighting his way through 3,515 of the game's undead enemies in the game's horde mode, co-op and single player campaign earning 28 of the game's 68 achievements. This Xbox One copy of the game was provided by the publisher.
Dave Horobin
Written by Dave Horobin
Dave is the TrueAchievements Social Manager and has been a Newshound since 2010. When he's not chasing developers and publishers for early review copies, he can usually be found on the TrueAchievements social pages discussing all things TA related.