Zombie Army 4: Dead War is equal parts relentless and addicting, with a "just one more go" hook that will keep you and your trusted compatriots locked in to mowing down waves of the undead for hours at a time. It's brash, loud, and a whole lot of fun.
Developer Rebellion have been slowly tweaking their take on hyper stylised, over the top third person action ever since Sniper Elite introduced the testicle busting X-Ray kill cam. Dead War feels like the culmination of their efforts; a co-op focused, set piece laden shooter sequel that really opens up the sandbox and gives you the tools to dispatch the horde as you see fit.
There's definitely a renewed focus on environmental interactivity, with all manner of contraptions and inventive, physics based traps at your disposal. An early campaign highlight features the still active rotors of a downed fighter plane. The chaos that ensues is truly delicious.
Infact, so much of Dead War sees you upgrading various weapons, unlocking perks, and tweaking your loadout. On the face of it, hardly a revolutionary gameplay loop, but it's the way these systems collide with your in game actions that things really fall in to place.
Depending upon the weapons you equip, you'll want to focus on perks and special abilities that compliment your play style. For example, the electrified shotgun pellets are devastating at close range, and will quickly help you rack up your combo meter so you can unlock single button press executions (with extremely satisfying and randomised animations).
On the whole, combat is intense, with most weapons offering a real kick. Sniper rifles lack a certain oomph to their sound design, but for the most part, you'll feel the impact of each hit. Special zombie types will keep you light on your toes, and there's plenty of surprises (which we won't spoil) included across the 9 level campaign.
Each is divided into distinct chapters, allowing you to jump back in where you left off should circumstances interrupt your session. On top of the wave based horde mode, Dead War is hardly starved of content, and the Season Pass promises substantial DLC is on the way.
In terms of presentation, our PS4 Pro copy allowed us the option of choosing between a locked 30fps graphics focused mode, and an unlocked framerate that sees overall resolution take a hit. Pleasingly, both modes ran smoothly, even in more heated encounters.
Where things start to falter slightly is in the player movement and object interactivity. Traversal feels a tad stiff, with some awkward animations that break the flow of the action. Vaulting also seems to take a little too long, and it can be fiddly to interact with certain supply crates in the midst of an attack.
Thankfully, the renewed emphasis on set piece moments, and supplemental storytelling, makes Dead War feel like a more polished effort than its predecessors.
The voice acting wildly embraces caricature, but somehow fits into the narrative of zombie Hitler being banished into a vortex. Tremendous effort has been made to make characters feel distinct, and despite the somewhat soap opera levels of emoting, it works.
If nothing else, Zombie Army 4: Dead War goes out of its way to make sure you have a good time, and should be commended for hedging its bets on providing a simple, satisfying arcade shooter experience. The extensive campaign, wide assortment of infected, and rock solid co-operative mechanics coalesce into a title that does exactly what it set out to achieve.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War is available now, for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Review copy provided by Rebellion.