The Only Good Nazi Is An Undead Nazi
Five years after leaving its mark on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Zombie Army Trilogy has finally shambled onto the Switch. And given the platform’s glaring lack of quality co-op shooters since it launched more than three years ago, it’s a welcome addition indeed.
The Switch version of Zombie Army Trilogy is no barebones port, either. Rebellion has smartly added a handful of new features to the mix. These updates include the welcome addition of wireless play for up to four players and the inclusion of HD rumble, to quality of life changes like the inclusion of motion-controlled aiming to help breathe some new life into this resurrected trilogy.
Bring Out Your Dead
An offshoot of Rebellion’s Sniper Elite series, Zombie Army Trilogy fuses that franchise’s focus on precision gunplay with the frantic co-op formula of Call of Duty Zombies and Left 4 Dead. Set in 1945 as the Third Reich is in its death throes, the game’s story begins as bombs rain down on Berlin. Taking refuge in his Führerbunker while his army lies in ruins, Hitler, desperate to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, initiates Plan Z. This Satanic rite brings the fallen Nazi forces back as zombies to repel the Allied invasion and reclaim the world.
With 15 lengthy stages of gory precision gunplay set across three campaigns to blast your way through either solo or with up to three friends, there’s plenty here to keep Switch-bound sharpshooters busy. Each of the game’s stages, which consist of a mixture of areas recycled from areas previously featured in the Sniper Elite series and original locales, can easily take an hour to more to complete. And with plenty of collectibles and secrets peppered throughout each area, you’ll find yourself wanting to explore every inch of these ruined German military bases and bombed-out concrete jungles on your mission to repel the undead invasion.
Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels
Being a spin-off of the Sniper Elite series, it should come as no surprise to learn that Zombie Army Trilogy puts a premium on long-distance kills. It’s a game that’s all about picking of hordes of the shambling undead with precision headshots as they inch ever closer to your position. To do this, you’ll be able to choose from a wide variety of sniper rifles with different kinds of optics and firing modes. Out of all the guns available to choose from, I found myself selecting the trusty M1 Garand due to its satisfying stopping power and semi-automatic firing capabilities that allowed me to drop eight ghouls at a time in rapid succession like putrid sacks of potatoes.
Of course, sniper rifles aren’t the only tools of the trade available in Zombie Army Trilogy. When revenants of the Reich get too close for comfort, you’ll be able to use various shotguns, submachine guns, and your sidearm to chew through the opposition and give you some breathing room. Ammo for these weapons is scarce, however, so you’ll need to make smart use of them so you can get some space and switch back to your sniper rifle, which always seems to have plenty of ammunition available.
Having played through Zombie Army 4: Dead War recently for our review, I have to admit that I missed some of the new features the game introduced, like the electric and incendiary ammo types. These new tools did a great job of spicing up the moment to moment gunplay. After going back to the original games, their absence sticks out like a sore thumb, as many of the weapons featured in Zombie Army Trilogy tend to feel a bit too similar to each other to stand out. That is, except for the rare occasion when you’re able to make use of a mighty gun turret or panzerfaust. But moments like these are understandably few and far between.
Return Of The Living Dead
Even still, sending a bullet through the eye socket of a zombie from your sniper’s perch and watching their rotting brains erupt from their skull in slow motion is as satisfying as ever – especially when playing with friends.
The Switch version of Zombie Army Trilogy allows you to take the fight to the rotting Reich with up to three friends in remote play or online. And whether you’re playing on your wireless network or slaughtering ghouls over the Nintendo Switch Online service, the game plays great. Getting into a lobby is painless, and the action runs at a fluid 30fps even when playing with a full party with the game is at its most frantic.
While both of these modes are great and work like a charm, I especially enjoyed the remote play feature. You just can’t beat sitting on your porch on a warm spring night with friends as you crack open a few cold ones and lay waste to hundreds of Nazi zombies. It is the height of luxury – or at least one of the most enjoyable multiplayer experiences on the Switch to date. I honestly can’t praise Zombie Army Trilogy’s multiplayer performance enough.
Switching Things Up
On the subject of the game’s performance, the Switch version of Zombie Army Trilogy admirably holds its own against previously released versions of the game. Though, unsurprisingly some concessions had to be made to get the game to work on Nintendo’s hybrid console. For starters, the textures are a bit blurrier than they are on other platforms, which are especially noticeable in interior environments. Additionally, the dramatic x-ray kills— a hallmark of the series and its companion franchise, Sniper Elite—seem to be considerably less gory this time around. And, as you’d expect, the game’s resolution has been reduced to 720p in handheld mode and 1080p when docked due to the hardware’s limitations.
So, while Zombie Army Trilogy is slightly less pretty on the Switch, it still looks pretty darn good. Admittedly, 60fps gameplay would have been excellent, but the locked 30fps framerate means the game plays without a hitch at all times. Considering this is a game that’s all about precision gunplay, the rock-solid performance is a welcome feature indeed.
While the new HD rumble didn’t exactly blow me away (20+ years of having force feedback in my games has made this a gimmick that seldom stands out to me), one feature I quite liked was the motion-controlled aiming. It’s very responsive and allowed me to make slight adjustments that would have been hard to do with the Pro controller’s sensitive analog sticks while aiming down the scope of my rifle.
Co-op zombie shooters are a dime a dozen on other platforms. But the Switch is virtually devoid of them, making Zombie Army Trilogy a very welcome addition to the console’s library for those who enjoy the genre. While the game is undoubtedly starting to show its age, Rebellion has done an excellent job of bringing this cult classic to the Switch while sacrificing surprisingly little in the process. With a lengthy campaign, addicting horde mode, and some of the best cooperative gameplay you can find on the Switch, it’s a gleefully gory shooter that no fans of the genre should pass up. And Thanks to the addition of remote play, it just might be my favorite way to experience the saga. Now here’s hoping the fine folks at Rebellion consider bringing the excellent sequel, Zombie Army 4: Dead War to the Switch down the road.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: Switch (reviewed), Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC; Publisher: Rebellion Developments; Developer: Rebellion Developments; Players: 1-4 (online); Released: March 31, 2020; MSRP: $39.99
Editor’s note: A review code was provided by the publisher.