It seems like only yesterday when I was reviewing Zombie Army 4 on the PlayStation 4, an extremely satisfying Nazi zombie slaughtering simulation game in which you deliver the undead back to where they came from, Hell. Well, aside from that game, I’ve also been playing the games which started it all, the Zombie Army Trilogy, which have now released for the first time on the Nintendo Switch thanks to the wizards at Rebellion. Whether you’ve played these three games before, or you’re completely new to the party, I’m sure you’ll instantly feel right at home once you headshot your first living dead Nazi bastard.
When I say the team over at Rebellion are wizards, I’m not messing – The Zombie Army Trilogy is one of the best ports I’ve seen on the Switch as it doesn’t just create a 1:1 copy of a last-generation game, it enhances the experience whilst offering as few compromises as possible. As a refresher, I’ve re-downloaded and played through the game on my PS4 as well as on the Switch, so that I can directly compare the two both visually and technically, and my initial impression is that I’m very impressed.
So, grab your weapon of choice once more as we seek out the one-testicled dictator behind this living dead invasion and perform a skilful vasectomy with our sniper rifle…
The Zombie Army Trilogy is, surprisingly, comprised of three games which are presented as three episodes within this exciting journey.
The first episode (Zombie Army One) focuses on Hitler’s final act in World War Two, he unleashes hordes of undead soldiers upon the world, set out to destroy anything they come into contact with and help him win the war for the Nazis. Episode Two has you trying to locate three pieces of the Sagarmatha Relic, an artifact which will apparently help you in your fight against the undead – but will you get it before Hitler? The final episode has you face Hitler himself, who is now the undead leader of the… undead, yet not everything goes according to plan.
Although technically three games stitched into one, they all follow one another seamlessly – if I hadn’t known they were originally released as separate games, and the ‘Trilogy’ in the title, I would have thought this game was always meant to be released like this. Each of the episodes are also split up into five chapters, each one surprisingly selectable from the start. So, if you get stuck or overwhelmed on any particular chapter, you can simply skip it and move onto the next if you choose. Also, just like the original version of the game on PS4, Xbox One and PC, all of the chapters can be played either on your own or with up to three other friends – did I tell you the team at Rebellion are wizards?
Have you played Sniper Elite before? If so, Zombie Army Trilogy is almost identical, only instead of shooting Nazis and killing them, you’re shooting undead Nazis and re-killing them. Also, there’s much more emphasis on arcade gameplay over the slower simulation-like experience from the ‘living’ games. If you’ve not played any of the ‘sniper’ games before, imagine Left 4 Dead but with a sniper rifle as your main weapon and Mortal Kombat-like X-Ray kill-cams showing you the glorious impact your heavenly projectile has upon these undead scumbags. The satisfaction from watching their decayed brains explode or fragile bones shatter never wears out or out-lives its welcome.
Your task in each of the chapters is to make your way through hordes of zombies as you move from safe room to safe room, facing regular undead soldiers, reanimated beasts, mutated creatures, and more horrific hellspawn henchmen. Just like the living Sniper Elite series, your sniper rifle is your main weapon, allowing you to precisely aim and shoot at the oncoming foes, dismembering them and causing wounds that would usually be fatal. However, seeing as we’re talking about zombies here, they’ll continue to crawl at you if they lose their legs, charge you with no arms (Monty Python style), and call for reinforcements by shrieking as they run at you with no care about their own ‘lives’.
Personally, I found it was much easier, although not as satisfying, to take out the majority of the zombies with regular weapons, so grenades, shotguns, flame throwers, etc… There’s a lot of weapons for you to find and pick up throughout the three games, each one offering they’re own stats and strengths against certain enemies. Unlike Sniper Elite, you can’t really camp out and take each of the zombies down one-by-one with silent headshots in this series, as soon as you hit one you’ll usually see, or hear, a bunch of its mates becoming aware and instantly charging in your direction.
This initially put me off the game when I first got it on the PS4, but thanks to a single new mechanic in the Switch edition, I don’t actually mind the more action-filled approach these games deliver. This mechanic is…
This is the third game in the last few weeks (Metro Redux and Saints Row IV being the others) which I’ve praised the motion controls for. This was an option that I wasn’t expecting but, just like I said in the other reviews, it’s one which I wish more games would include on both the PS4 and the Switch – not just in Switch ports. Zombie Army Trilogy can get quite intense and manic when you’re trying to shoot the evil fiends whilst running away, backing off, or standing your ground, thanks to the number of zombies which come after you and the quick reactions required. This is sometimes difficult to keep up with thanks to the Switch’s small travel distance on the thumb-sticks and lower framerate than the other versions – thankfully, the motion controls are perfect, making slaughtering the undead much easier and responsive.
When enabled, moving your Joy-Cons whilst aiming will move the reticle slightly, as if you’re aiming with a mouse. I know some people don’t like using motion controls in games but they really are game-changers in games like this as it gives you full control and allows you to use your thumb for something else whilst you’re aiming through the power of movement. Plus, in a game where the only sure way to put down your enemies for good is to shoot them in the head (otherwise they’ll literally crawl their way towards you), having the ability to precisely aim between their eyes and pull the trigger is more than welcome.
Other than the motion controls, everything else which we’ve come to love in both the living and dead series’ is here – upgrading your weapons, holding your breath as you use the sniper rifle, stomping on the zombies whilst they’re on the ground and watching their head literally fly away, and lots and lots of satisfying satanic slaughter!
If you want to simply kill some Nazi scum, without working your way through the story, you can jump straight into the Horde mode either on your own or with your friends. Here, you can pick from five stages as you try to survive a number of rounds which increasingly become more and more intense and difficult. I’ll admit, I’m not the best at this mode as I quickly became zombie food each time I played it, but I imagine it will be much more fun if played with other people (something I never got to try). Speaking of which…
Zombie Army Trilogy can be an entire co-op experience if you wish it to be. You can choose from eight different characters and have up to three people join you either during the story chapters or the Horde mode above. This means you can take on Hitler as a one-man-band or a group of four. The main difference between this version of the trilogy and the PS4 version, for example, is that you can play online with friends and strangers (providing you have a paid Nintendo Online subscription), or you can set up and play with up to three other players locally using the Switch’s local Wi-Fi option (without the paid subscription). So, if you and a few mates have the game, and lockdown isn’t currently in effect, you can get together and play with each other just by being near one another.
There aren’t that many options in regards to the co-op modes, but there is a fun toggle that you don’t see too often these days – Friendly Fire. For those that don’t know, this means you can hurt your colleagues when you ‘accidentally’ shoot them in the arse or face. This is always a fun option that can lead to IRL arguments and fights – remember to turn it on. The mode also has the same difficulty scaling we saw in Zombie Army 4 – you can set it on default so the game adjusts the number of enemies based on how many people are present, or you can manually set it to increase or decrease the difficulty.
If you’re a badass, try playing the entire game with one player but the enemies set to four-players – it’s crazy!
Although I’m often glad the Switch doesn’t have trophies or achievements, I’m sometimes sad they’re not there as they help prolong the life of a game by giving you new things to look out for or try to achieve. Zombie Army Trilogy has in-game trophies which are very similar to the PS4 trophies, only there’s five more in total. This is great as it gives you something to work towards, unlocking them regularly as you move forward through the game and kill everything that moves, but unlocking them doesn’t give you any new content or bonuses – so the only reward for achieving them all is the satisfaction that you’ve unlocked them all.
There is also an option to see the worldwide leaderboards, see how you stack up against other people so that you can push yourself to do better. However, this has one issue – you can only see the leaderboards if you have a paid Nintendo Online membership. I honestly think this is the first time I’ve ever seen a leaderboard locked behind an online paywall – usually, this sort of feature is excluded from having to pay as you’re not interacting with others, just seeing the scores and/or times. But, in this case, you have to pay to see it – which is why I’ve never seen the leaderboards within the game.
Seeing as I played through the game on both the Switch and PS4, there was one option obviously missing. The Switch got motion controls whereas the PS4 version has 3DTV support. I tried out the PS4 version in 3D and it was awesome – Rebellion has always supported new tech as a few of their games (such as Sniper Elite 3) supported 3DTV as well as unlocked framerates and V-Sync on the PS4. It’s a shame 3DTV support seems to have died out about five years ago, although I can’t wait for Sniper Elite VR… But I digress…
Throughout my entire time with the Zombie Army Trilogy, I didn’t notice any slowdown, no bugs, no glitches, and no performance issues at all. The Switch edition runs at 30fps, as opposed to the 60fps over on the PS4, but that didn’t bother me as the actual gameplay was very smooth and operated with no lag or inconsistencies. This version also seemed to have tweaked assets and draw distances in order to keep it running as well as it does – again, this doesn’t impact the gameplay as the game looks fantastic on the portable system.
I only play my Switch in portable mode, I don’t even have my dock set up, so all my thoughts and opinions are based on playing it like this. The resolution of the game seemed to be 720p in handheld mode (based on how clean the image looked) and everything was super easy to make out – especially the subtitles and in-game text. this is great as I’ve been playing a few other games recently which are very hard to read when playing on the small screen, so I’m glad Rebellion thought about this and made it so that everything was nice and clear.
Although best played with headphones, the music, sound effects, and voices, all sounded great throughout the game. I couldn’t hear any compression distortion or loss of quality in comparison to the PS4 version. I genuinely don’t know how Rebellion was able to pull off such an amazing port of the game with hardly any obvious compromises.
Zombie Army Trilogy perfectly combines three Nazi-filled chapters into one satanic package. Follow the exciting story from beginning to end(?) as you stand up against Hitler and his horrific hordes of nasty Nazis, determined to deliver every single one of them back to Hell. Whether you wish to take on this journey alone or with up to three friends/strangers, you’ll be constantly on the edge of your seat as you never know where the enemy will come from next. The Switch edition also introduces motion controls which greatly enhances the overall control you have over your character when engaged in intense combat – seriously, every game with a gun should have this option.
If you like Zombies, guns, bloodshed, disembodiment, Nazis, Hitler, or having a laugh with your mates as you kick the heads off downed undead creatures, the Zombie Army Trilogy is for you!
Zombie Army Trilogy£29.99
- - Three episodes in one, fifteen chapters with more undead Nazis than you can shake a stick at
- - Runs really well on the Switch, no obvious slowdown or performance issues
- - Can play with up to three other people either online (via paying for Nintendo Online) or locally (using the Switch's Wi-Fi) for free
- - Looks great and everything is easy to see in portable mode
- - Has motion controls for precise aiming
- - Runs at 30fps as opposed to the 60fps on other systems
- - It didn't affect my score but the leaderboards are locked behind Nintendo's online paywall
- - Some of the stages are quite difficult when playing solo