If you’ve read the title and played the Sniper Elite games, you pretty much know what you’re getting with Zombie Army Trilogy. It’s a collection of the first two zombie versions of the title along with a brand new section and a horde mode. This is an incredibly generous helping of content and we quite happily spent a couple of hours just in the first chapter of the first title, so if this is your thing you’ll easily get tens of hours of enjoyment out of it.
The game is decidedly old-school if you class old-school as around the time of the first Gears of War horde mode. Whether you’re in campaign or horde mode, essentially you fight off legions of zombies, skeletons and more armed with a sniper rifle, some kind of secondary shotgun or machine gun and a pistol. You can play with up to three friends in whatever mode you pick and in the campaign there is a story of sorts and you move from place to place before you need to defend it horde-style.
In terms of gameplay it shares very little in common with it’s Sniper Elite ancestry. The sniper kill-cam is still here and pulling off long-shots is just as satisfying as ever, but there’s very little waiting or planning. Instead you find a defensible position and then throw everything you have at the hundreds of enemies coming your way. That’s not an exaggeration, we just played a round of co-op and got up to wave 9, by then I’d personally killed 340 zombies, it’s a bloodbath.
There’s a lot of skill involved in doing well and this is by no means an easy game. Once the zeds start lining up you really need to be able to get headshots as that’s the only way to reliably put them down for good. Once more powerful enemies are added into the mix your targets become even smaller until you’re literally trying to thread bullets through eye-slits in armour in order to stop the imposing horde. As with other similar games you can resurrect each other too so knowing when to run in to save someone and when to hang back and thin the herd is also crucially important.
While you’re playing these games there’s a distinct sense that they aren’t AAA titles but it’s hard to pin down exactly why. The graphics are amazing but they’re by no means terrible, the sound is atmospheric and bullets are punchy, there’s a wealth of content, matchmaking works incredibly well (on Xbox One it will find a match while you go do something else, this was a much flaunted feature when the Xbox One was announced but this is the first time we’ve seen a game use it this well). But perhaps it’s due to button prompts occasionally failing to appear, zombies flying into the air due to the janky physics or the fact this is very much a one-note game. Either you really like defending against waves of zombies or you don’t and this game isn’t going to try to win you over.
The biggest issue that we’ve found is the lag. It’s constant and it’s annoying if not game-breaking. Everyone except for the host gets a decent amount and you simply learn to compensate for it. We’re hoping it will be patched as it’s unusually stable for lag, but right now it really does detract from the fun, especially when there isn’t an option for local co-op.
If you’ve ever enjoyed the Call of Duty zombies modes, then you should pick this up. It’s a little janky and the lag is a real concern but we think for £30 (the RRP currently) there’s so much content and so much fun to be had, it’s definitely worth the asking price. Just make sure you go in willing to laugh at the game’s flaws and don’t take things too seriously.