After forging shooter thrills with the Sniper Elite franchise, developers Rebellion have kept undead chaos alive with a line of horror-inspired spinoff games — and Zombie Army 4: Dead War doesn’t miss a shot when it comes to leaping onto the Nintendo Switch.
Merging the bone-chilling horror of the undead with all manner of weapons should be a recipe for success, but the zombie shooter subgenre has stagnated over the last few years. Genre definers like Valve’s Left 4 Dead and Treyarch’s initial foray with undead survival in World At War captivated players, but it feels like we’ve been doing the same old things ever since.
Rebellion’s zombie-headshotting franchise builds off of the solid mechanics of the Sniper Elite franchise, and the result is a spinoff that has managed to cultivate a loyal following. Now, after cementing the Zombie Army IP as an impressive contender with Zombie Army 4: Dead War in 2020, the experience has made its way to the Nintendo Switch, and the results do not disappoint.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War – Key details
- Price: $49.99 | £39.99 | €49.99
- Developer: Rebellion
- Release date: April 26, 2022
- Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S, PlayStation 4 | 5, Nintendo Switch
Zombie Army 4: Dead War Trailer
As aforementioned, the Zombie Army franchise starts from Sniper Elite’s fundamentals. Zombie Army 4: Dead War isn’t just sending these crazed ghouls back to their graves, however; players are taken across the globe on a quest to restore balance to the world, following the seeming banishment of Adolf Hitler to Hell in Zombie Army Trilogy. It’s 1946, only a year later and the face of evil is set to return with a vengeance, although this time, Hitler has legions of zombies fuelled by the energy of Hell itself.
This franchise is undoubtedly as insane as its premise thankfully doesn’t feel bogged down in any self-seriousness. Dead War’s tone is full-on B-Movie madness and wears its more nonsensical elements on its sleeve, as characters spew cheesy dialog over the infectious bass and synth hooks accompanying your journey. If you enjoyed the Wolfenstein franchise in the past, you’ll find a lot to enjoy here.
Within the multiple globetrotting campaigns, you’ll be bringing the hurt to Italy, Croatia, and Sardinia as the army of the dead attempts to push back what hope humanity has left. Every one of Dead War’s locales is seeping with dread, blood, and guts. Abandoned homes in Venice are incredibly haunting as Rebellion paints the environment with remnants of former residents in personal belongings and SOS messages. This is paired with the stupendous sound design from Nick Brewer and company too, as eerie screams and cries emanate in the air around you. Dead War’s campaign is gleefully influenced by the greats of horror cinema, be it the late George Romero or John Carpenter, and even the violence of Giallo pioneer Lucio Fulci. Each mission has a defensive objective of sorts, as you race to find solace within a designated safe room. Here you’ll be stocking up on ballistic goodies and a bevy of explosives.
The level design may be simplistic but Rebellion understands the assignment with Dead War and cuts straight to the chase with every new warzone you explore. You’ll be able to play each campaign solo or with backup through online multiplayer, but Dead War never feels like you’re missing out if a team isn’t present. Joining the multiplayer fun is easy and quick, too, doing away with the kind of roadblocks you may encounter in genre rivals.
Rebellion has ensured Dead War is stocked up with a wealth of versatile weapons, and each feels distinct. Naturally, most of Dead War’s weapons time period-appropriate, but there are some outrageous additions to wield. Whether it’s a rip-roaring chainsaw or a sharpshooter rifle with electric bolts, it’s hard not to laugh as you cut through swathes of undead, particularly in horde mode.
Fight fire with fire
Instead of encouraging the player to survive for as long as they possibly can, Horde in Dead War focuses on difficulty. Each session can be tweaked in regards to challenge and loadouts for your chosen character, and survival mode pushes players to unlock an escape zone and exfil from the map. Sounds simple right? Absolutely not. From fog-filled woods to the sewage-covered London underground, each map is a sweat-inducing clamor for safety. Weapons and ammo spawn at randomly generated points between rounds as enemy types become more aggressive and hungrier for blood. Creepy crawlies and flaming generals are just the beginning of the threats waiting in the darkness.
Horde mode brings to light just how impressive Rebellion’s efforts at porting Dead War to the Nintendo Switch are. There was an incredible amount of action unfolding within the console version, so it’s no surprise that it has taken the developers two years to bring the experience to the Switch’s more modest hardware.
The atmosphere might be a nightmare but playing Dead War on the Nintendo Switch OLED in both docked and handheld modes was bliss. The game’s superb art and production design are crisp on the OLED’s screen and remain just as impressive through a monitor or TV. Yet, it is Dead War’s performance that stands out as the talking point for Rebellion’s port.
As the waves of zombies stacked up and the weapons got wackier, I expected the sheer amount of particle effects and enemies chasing me to tank the framerate. And yet, Dead War smashed down any worries I had here and kept the action going with ease. Rebellion has kept the framerate to 30FPS for the Switch and in my experience, it never faltered. Sniper Elite’s signature bullet-cam and slow-motion are always satisfying as you crack skulls and limbs into tiny pieces. In fact, if you love the franchise’s famous camera so much, you can increase its frequency in the game’s settings. Here you’ll also find a surprisingly robust Photo Mode, enabling you to capture a few snaps in between the shell casings hitting the floor.
The Nintendo Switch has gained a mighty title for its growing library of shooters, as Rebellion proves that Zombie Army 4: Dead War is an incredible time, even on the hybrid system. The wafer-thin story might not satisfy players looking for deep lore but the straightforward action, flexible weaponry, and B-movie charm ensure that slaying the undead is a breeze, whether you’re playing solo or with your squad.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
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