In recent years, it seems like there is this "all or nothing" mentality when it comes to games. If it's not absolutely perfect and Game of the Year, then it's not worth your time. Not only is this viewpoint totally wrong and toxic as can be, it also negates the entire point of gaming with friends: to have fun. That's a point that the community should remember and it's a point that Rebellion's Zombie Army 4 drills home flawlessly. This is a zombie game that isn't anything that what it says it is, which is great because the latest installment in the Zombie Army franchise is damn fun.
As we mentioned with our early hands-on impressions last year, we want to clarify that we don’t think this has Game of the Year potential and that’s OK because it’s not meant to. When speaking with the Creative Director of Zombie Army 4, Tim Jones, he mentioned that Rebellion’s focus wasn’t on being anything other than what they are, and they are in the business of making games that players enjoy while they get exactly what they paid for.
Zombie Army 4 offers several experiences but where it truly shines is its co-op. This game is one of the most enjoyable co-op experiences I’ve had in a long time and definitely hit home in the same way that a lot of my older "always go back to" games feel. It plays like if Left 4 Dead had a drunken bar love affair with Killing Floor 1 and shipped off their lovechild to study abroad and came back sporting a renewed love for espresso and adventure. That’s pretty much the entire Zombie Army franchise, in a nutshell, something the fourth entry carries on beautifully. The combat is straight forward with the simple objective to smoosh and not be smooshed which is something that all gamers can enjoy without having had to play previous entries.
The mechanics of the game are very much centered around co-op enjoyment, setting up numerous scenarios that will bring players together in hilarity. One such scenario is seemingly having zombie orgies on top of your face while desperately clinging to life after getting knocked down. I think this might have been a glitch, but I hope they keep it because watching zombies get their sick dance moves on while basically sitting on my dying face is pretty much the best thing ever. Remember: it’s a feature, not a bug.
How the game sets up is that up to four players can take on hordes of zombies with various weapons scattered throughout the game and the ability to upgrade said weapons when a round ends. Zombie Army 4 also has the classic archetype characters that one would want in a title like this including Jun the Healer, Karl the Sniper, Shola the Explosives Fiend, and Boris the Tank.
While my time definitely had me reminiscing on all of those long nights way back when with friends playing Left 4 Dead, Zombie Army 4 definitely stands on its own two feet. From the different and very intricate maps to Mortal Kombat-esque kill cams, and undead sharks just hanging around, the latest Zombie Army is charming as much as a bloody death massacre can be.
If you're like me and like to customize your loadout, then you'll find that the weapon attachment and upgrade systems for this game is also enjoyable, perfectly balancing being intricate enough to be interesting without being overwhelming. From functional changes to cosmetics (golden pistol, what whaaat) – and of course the skill upgrade system, there’s always a way to improve your game when taking on nazi zombies and undead sharks. Sure, you can just blindly shoot into the hordes, but trust me - that method will only get you so far, especially when playing Hordes.
Another aspect that was just good 'ol fashioned fun was the game's Horde Mode. It's equal parts campy and terrifying and makes panic shooters like me almost want to piss themselves. If you've played Call of Duty's Zombie mode, then you already have a leg up on other players. Playing rounds against waves and waves of zombies scaling up in difficulty is heart-pounding and trying to rush to get different weaponry, limited weaponry for this mode, makes it pretty easy to let those F-bombs fly without a care. But in a good way, it's a solid co-op experience that I honestly wouldn't try solo because half the fun is seeing what sorts of shenanigans your friends can get into.
With over 30 missions to play through and a solid campaign, Zombie Army 4 in its most simplest form is an incredible experience that is tailored towards co-op play but in no way limited by it. Plus, there's a zombie Hitler and yes, you definitely get to shoot him in his smug face. After the end credits roll for the campaign, enjoy the Horde mode, enjoy hunting for collectibles, and so much more.
Zombie Army 4 is an authentic experience that doesn't promise anything it's not, which is valuable and something that I think players will be very receptive to when they get their hands on this game. It's got something to offer veterans of the franchise while also being an appealing co-op experience for newcomers as well and does so in a way that remains faithful to what this series has always been about: having fun and shooting the shit out of zombies.