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Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army

Sniper Elite is already ridiculous sans zombies. It’s a WWII shooter released long after Nazi’s had become a stale and cliche foe. It revels in its sniper mechanics, challenging the most dedicated players to make the best shots. Those amazing shots are glorified in slow motion and then turned gratuitous as the camera tracks the path of the bullet flesh is torn, bones are shattered and eyeballs explode. All, of course, with just enough X-Ray vision to see how torn up these unlucky bastards are on the inside.

It was only a year ago that Sniper Elite V2 came out, and despite the mediocrity of its level design, it excelled in its capacity at allowing the player to be an expert sniper. Difficulty didn’t make the enemies tougher: a headshot killed on easy just as much as it did on hard. It made the sniping more difficult. Switch over to medium and gravity effected tugged shots off course. Upgrade to hard mode and wind resistance affected the path of the bullet. Nazi Zombie Army maintains the precision shooting mechanics it’s predecessors built.

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The problem with Sniper Elite is that the sniping mechanic didn’t necessarily make it good – it the end of the day it was still just another WWII shooter. The weapons were just as familiar as the enemies and it seems as if nobody can do anything original with Nazis anymore. To prove that point, Rebellion has developed this stand-alone release in which all of the Nazis are now zombies.

There’s very little story that develops over the course of Nazi Zombie Army. It is the end of WWII and the end is nigh for Hitler, but even as the bombs shake the foundation of his headquarters, even as his followers give up hope, he still has one final move: To unleash Plan Z. It’s the barest of bones, but then any more explanation as to why everyone in Berlin is a zombie would probably be unnecessary.

The game Left 4 Dead follows four survivors as they tear through a plethora of zombies in an attempt to make a daring escape. The main difference here is that instead of each mission being its own individual escape, the five stages of Nazi Zombie Army encompass one larger path. Get to Berlin, stop the zombies, get out.

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That difference aside, there are plenty of other similarities between these separate zombie ventures. The game can either be played alone or online with 4 player co-op and the multiplayer experience is the preferred method of play. Every mission is a lengthy slog through burnt and crumbling ruins filled with zombies. Off in this distance there is a waypoint, probably designating the next safehouse. Fight zombies to get to the safehouse. Stand your ground against many zombies. Rinse, repeat.

It’s a formula that doesn’t stray too far from Left 4 Dead‘s pattern, but that doesn’t make Nazi Zombie Army a mediocre clone. The pacing of the game, due to the emphasis on sniping as the most powerful attack option, is much more deliberate. Even during the most frantic moments, when a legion of zombies is laying an endless siege upon you, there’s still just enough time to move, plan out the shot and fire.

The sniping was the only saving grace of Sniper Elite V2 and it comes back in all its gory glory in full force. In fact, it’s actually trickier than it used to be. A living Nazi takes cover and pops out of cover in predictable fashion. An undead Nazi stumbles forward, his head bobbing to and fro. Lining up that perfect shot over a hundred meters away is not the easiest thing to do, but when you succeed it makes for sweet accomplishment, embellished by the aforementioned kill-cam.

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This game, however, can be a monotonous slog at times. The ruins you travel start to look a little too familiar. The objective never quite changes: approach the next waypoint, survive. Even the kill-cams get tiresome, but that’s not too hard to fathom. After hundreds of sniped shots, glorified in slow motion, it’s a good thing that they can be turned off.

And if you can, try not to play this game by yourself. As a single player game Nazi Zombie Army can become horribly monotonous. The crippling condition that makes the experience stale and repetitive is quickly remedied by the presence of buddies. Only then, when you and your friends enter an open plaza, when the fog rolls in and the music gets louder, and the Nazi zombies rise up, does this game truly shine.

7 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2011.

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