Sniper Elite V2 came out last year and received some success in the market. One of the notable features was undoubtedly the x-ray kill cam, which allowed you to see the passage of the bullet through the innards of your victims in slow motion. Other than that, it was not very special, most blame for that falling onto the dumb AI which made the sniping easier than duck shooting.
But, the game was undoubtedly successful enough to earn a sequel and that arri... no, it did not. Instead of a sequel, we receive rather a surprising standalone expansion Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army. The title says it all really: you get to fight against zombies.
Zombies in all Flavours
The game starts with the initiation of Hitler’s last resort: the release of Agent Z which makes zombies come out of suddenly appearing black clouds. Whether this is meant to depict them rising from their graves or if the clouds are some dimensional doors is not really explained. In any case you, the hero of the story, will begin some time later in a small village overrun by zombies. Your task: to find a working motor vehicle and get your arse to Berlin. Your aim is apparently to find the source of the apocalyptic problem and put a stop to it although no one manages to explain how this is to be achieved.
The zombies come in many flavours. You have your traditional slow, lumbering zombies as well as the more modern fast skittering zombies. But you will also have suicide-bomber zombies who are even faster and blow themselves up as soon as they reach you. And sniper zombies snipe at you and jump great distances from one building top to another. And mega tank zombies who walk around guns blazing and are almost invulnerable to your grenades and bullets. And perhaps even more, but I never got far enough in the game to see more zombies than the above.
Where’s the Sniping?
Zombie-infested Germany is a cold, dark and forlorn place if you do not have a co-op company with you. You will encounter veritable hordes of zombies who all know exactly where you are and run or lumber towards your position at variable speeds. And while you are concentrating on trying to mow down the thirty zombies attacking the front of the building, you will have others coming in through the back to get you from behind.
When playing with a friend, or as a team of four friends, this might be more tolerable, but if you are playing alone, you will quickly run out of ammunition and have to run all around the place trying to pick up ammo from the fallen enemies and occasional stashes. This gets even more difficult once you enter Berlin as the dead bodies of the zombies disappear before you have time to get to them to loot them.
The biggest failing of this bargain title is that it never offers you with a decent chance to engage in the activity that its title makes you expect from it: sneaking and sniping. Since the enemy knows your location without having to see you, you may have time to shoot downs a few of them before the rest of them are upon you. You have to rely on various sorts of machine pistols, mines, grenades and explosives to sanitize the surroundings, which was not really written down in the job description of a sniper, the last time I checked the work contract.
Another failing is the on-tracks experience. You can only travel down a specific path and the enemies come at you in pre-determined waves. Whereas in the main game where you could find nice sniping positions to take down your enemies, there are no such possibilities in Nazi Zombie Army. You can only travel forward and kill the stuff that comes at you. Taking cover is only necessary when you meet the shooting variety of zombies and even then it is often inadvisable, since it will you defenceless against the lumbering and skittering zombie hordes.
Only with Friends
Nazi Zombie Army is obviously meant to be played socially. The single-player experience gets boring and frustrating rather quickly. I reached my limit in Berlin where I first faced a veritable horde of enemies, expended pretty much all my ammo, escaped the rest of the horde towards the door that was marked as my goal only to have one of those tank zombies come through those doors and mow me down as I tried to rabbit away with no ammo to shoot back at it. Consequent attempts repeated the experience.
With friends in co-op, I can imagine the gameplay being more balanced and perhaps even enjoyable. The game will still be linear and won’t allow you to actually snipe at anything, but at least you will have friends to watch your back and increase the amount of firepower on your side.
Overall, I would recommend this game only if you absolutely love zombies, have friends available and don’t mind that the game is nothing more than a linear shooter, rather than a sniper game. Certainly it is an ethically solid choice for a shooter, given that you are shooting at dead things and not humans. Even the x-ray slow-mo kill cam feels less disgusting this way.
Headshots are certainly a thing to see and enjoy.
Boring, linear and frustrating single-player.