Zombie Army 4: Dead War review | Schlocking fun

Third-person shooter sequel Zombie Army 4: Dead War leans into the schlock, and is all the stronger for it. Our review…


The hordes of Zombie Army 4: Dead War personify the horror of the Second World War – in a pulpy, ham-fisted sense, yes, but the metaphor is very much there. The shuffling undead’s repeated grunts and moans give way to a sinking feeling of being overwhelmed as they shamble towards you, endlessly, relentlessly.

These are not modern zombies, sprinting around like Olympic athletes and with intelligence beyond what we’ve traditionally known them for. These are traditional zombies (who are also Nazis): dangerous in numbers, and relentless in their pursuit of human flesh.

Adopting the tone of a camp 1980s horror flick, Zombie Army 4 is rife with quippy one-liners, ravaging undead crowds, and an obscenely high amount of gore. Its absurdity feels like something you’d catch on the Horror Channel at 3am on a Saturday.

Rebellion’s game prides itself on how much higher it can take the levels of silliness with each new scenario, and doesn’t ever hold back from paying homage to that strange corner of late night/early morning pop culture we’ve all experienced at some point in our lives.

This is backed up by a musical score covering jazz, metal, progressive rock, and more besides. Composer Nick Brewer takes huge inspiration from Italian band Goblin and its soundtrack for 1978’s George Romero-directed Dawn of the Dead.

The funky beats of each track enhance the goofy, old-school atmosphere the game goes for while simultaneously paying homage to the godfather of zombie fiction.

Zombie Army 4’s cast of misfit soldiers is diverse, all with their own qualities breathing uniqueness into them. While their personalities aren’t clearly expressed in the game itself – rather, relegated to cutscenes and flavour text in menus – their individuality is apparent enough during play thanks to the different stats each one possesses.

Some are better snipers, while others are more proficient in melee weapons, for example. These positives and negatives, when put next to each other, encourage co-operation between every member of the team, demanding everyone works together and uses their core strengths.

This works well alongside the game’s deep RPG levelling feature which constantly refines your character as you play. Through pretty standard upgrade trees and skill systems, there’s a huge diversity of builds that can be configured to fine-tune a character to your personal play style.

Perhaps you’re the brute, getting up close and personal with the zombies, soaking up all the aggression; or maybe you’re the group’s marksman, staying back in safety and picking off key targets through a scope; or you could be the bait, constantly attracting the attention of the shuffling hordes and featuring as a stumbling buffoon of a main course. On purpose, obviously. Ahem.

This element shines brightest in Zombie Army 4’s horde mode, in which players face increasingly difficult enemies in a tough, claustrophobic environment. When it’s all about survival, and you’re not focused on a specific objective or getting from A to B, the diversity in team ability comes to the forefront, and you really learn how well you all work together – or how styles can clash.

Horde mode offers something completely different from the campaign and is, really, much better for players who want a truer co-operative experience.

While it has been designed as a multiplayer game in the most part – it’s a multiplayer spin-off of what was originally a single-player only series in Sniper Elite, after all – Zombie Army 4 is completely playable alone. Here it becomes a more frantic affair, as with no one to watch your back you’re far more careful about defending certain areas, or hesitant to advance through levels too quickly.

Rebellion accounts for this shift by adding an option to scale the number of enemies depending on how many human players are present, so difficulty never spikes drastically higher or lower if your friends can’t join you in a session. It also means smaller teams can bring in more zombies than they may be comfortable with for an additional challenge, so it works both ways nicely enough.

This flexibility for those playing alone ends up being more of a good thing because of one of Zombie Army 4’s main flaws: lag. No matter how stable the connection, every hit on an enemy takes a fraction of a second longer to register than it does when playing solo.

It’s ultimately inconsequential, especially if you don’t even bother playing offline, but it is noticeable enough to become a downer on the full experience.

But that in no way should be read as saying Zombie Army 4 is anything other than a very good game. The intensity of its battles – even with those slow-footed, shambling corpses – is seriously impressive at times, and each encounter with a new horde can leave you gasping for breath.

It’s one of Rebellion’s best shooters to date; a natural evolution from the studio’s ever-improving Sniper Elite series and – as with the last few Zombie Army spin-offs – a theme that fits like a glove.

It’s easy to say zombies are overdone – the past 15 years has made this incontrovertible in all facets of entertainment – but that’s not to say something can’t ever come along and remind us of how to do it properly.

Robust shooting mechanics coupled with fine presentation sees Zombie Army 4 raise the bar for horror-shooters, with its undead Nazi hordes proving, once again, a fine match-up for the Second World War theme. It’s imperfect, but one of Rebellion’s best.


The campaign features a pub crawl of different locations to visit including a volcano, zoo, and even a castle straight out of hell itself. Each chapter introduces new enemies and mechanics to deal with, keeping the story fresh for the entirety of its run.

Verdict: 78%

By leaning into its schlockier influences, Zombie Army 4 comes out stronger than ever.

Genre: Third-person shooter
Format: PS4 (tested) / PC / XBO
Developer: Rebellion Developments
Publisher: Rebellion Developments
Price: £39.99
Release: Out now

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