The opening cinematic to Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army gives you all the info you need to know. The Allies are kicking Nazi butt, Hitler’s desperate, some nice, cheesy ‘70s synth style music to set the mood… oh, and the hordes upon hordes of zombies he unleashes. The core of Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army (NZA) is a survival third-person shooter, as opposed to the stealthy third-person shooter that was Sniper Elite V2. As you traverse the supernaturally overcast war-torn streets of Germany you’ll be pitted against the undead hordes of Hitler’s once great army – over and over and over again.
There are a few different varieties of zombies, including a suicide bomber, a sniper that can leap from rooftop to rooftop, and a minigun wielding toughie, that you’ll face in addition to the standard shambling, moaning variety. You’ll find little cover to hide behind that will be of any real benefit, so you’ll be forced to shoot them up close and personal eventually. As a result, NZA feels like Left 4 Dead set in World War II. This isn’t a bad thing as Left 4 Dead was a great co-op game and NZA does have a strong co-op element. Unlike those other two zombie games, though, NZA just doesn’t quite know when to stop - more on that in a bit. Right now, guns!
To help you fend off these brain hungry walkers, you’ve got a small arsenal at your disposal including your trusty sniper rifle, a shotgun or machine gun, a pistol, and a variety of explosives. Getting headshots with any of these weapons will result in the quickest way to dispatch the zombies and conserve ammo (though you can search corpses for more), and of course, getting a headshot using your sniper rifle will result in the famed “x-ray killcam” (when playing single-player). In Sniper Elite V2, this was a really nice effect that helped to highlight a particularly good shot in the midst of a tense firefight. In NZA, you can get 6 of these types of kill shots in a row due to the sheer number of enemies you’re presented with at one time. Enemies that are all slow-moving and don’t shoot back. All that slo-mo, zoom in, x-ray death can get to be a bit much. Fortunately, you can scale down its frequency in the options menu.
They come with the mist...
The particular gear you use can be selected at the start of the mission, and each rifle and gun has its own strengths and weaknesses. Some rifles have a faster fire rate at the cost of a smaller clip or a greater recoil, while others have less bullet drop over long distances. These types of factors, the bullet drop and muzzle velocity, play into things a little more on the harder difficulty levels, but really, it’s all about finding that rifle/gun that you like. If it turns out that a Mosin Nagant isn’t the rifle for you don’t worry – the safe rooms that are routinely placed throughout the level provide you with the opportunity to get more ammo and swap out your loadout. Another little Left 4 Dead nod there, too, with the safe rooms. Anyways, these rooms also act as very critical checkpoints for your progression as, once you start a level, well, you’re in it for the long haul.
Many depictions of a doomsday zombie scenario focus on the seemingly sheer hopelessness of the protagonists’ struggles against the unrelenting tides of walking dead. NZA certainly keeps up with that feeling, though, in its particular execution that’s not a good thing. The typical flow of a level will be to fight off a set horde of zombies in an area then move forward to a new objective or safe room. Rinse and repeat.
These zombie waves are fun and, at times, require some strategic thinking to find the best defensible spot so you can force the hordes into a choke point. The problem is that there are just too many of these situations in one level. The average clear time for one chapter, assuming you don’t die and have to restart at a checkpoint, is around 30 minutes. That may not seem like a whole lot, but when you’re staring down the scope at yet another zombie in a WWII helmet while his buddy’s gnawing on your foot... let’s just say that a few intense moments over a short period of time feel better than a lot of moments over a long period of time.