Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army 2 breeds the kind of co-op I look for in apocalypse scenarios. No, I don’t mean the competitive co-op that Left 4 Dead promotes. Left 4 Dead is a riot with friends, but when matched with random players, one survivor always races ahead, aggros undead hordes, gets flattened by a Tank, and rage quits. I mean the cooperative co-op fostered by Resident Evil 5, which teaches teams they can only be as strong as their weakest member ‒ excluding Resident Evil 5’s AI, which requires more monitoring than To Catch a Predator pedophiles.
Where was I? Right … only strong, weakest member. Nazi Zombie Army 2 drives the cooperative nail harder than its predecessor. Karl Fairburne returns as the silent lead, but now the remaining Russian and German co-op characters ‒ who must assemble a fractured relic to wipe out the zombie scourge ‒ accompany him in cutscenes. Players may join in-progress matches, too, no longer forcing groups to restart a mission if they want to boost survival ratings.
So a German, Russian, and American walk into bar …
Enemy numbers still scale to lobby sizes, however, and players can give their graphics cards a real workout by doubling, tripling, or even quadrupling infected reinforcements, both in single-player and multiplayer. Think you have the chops to repel a couple hundred zombies? Siege battles return in greater frequency, pitting you against endless walking corpses, though Rebellion finally adds mid-skirmish checkpoints to relieve the weight of continuing the fight.
Of course, death does come rapidly. Placing land mines covers flanks, and slowing your breath for a 5-in-1 headshot reduces outbreaks faster. But Rebellion designed NZA 2 for tag teams at least. Later sieges include heavy machine guns for his and her pleasure, and the areas in which the bloodshed unfolds are too immense for one person to protect. Zombies trigger traps before you lay more, and multiple spawn points revive enemies behind you and in front of you. During the trainyard finale, for example, two ramps compromise your main vantage point. With three other players, I could hold my position and not worry about nightmare creatures biting me in the ass.
You're going to need a bigger gun.
Survivors must watch each others backs, because Rebellion builds on its array of zombie types. A new heavy infected transforms shamblers into track stars, and a blind officer summons additional grunts until you put a bullet in his brain. My friends and I steamrolled through Nazi Zombie Army; now we were put on edge when prioritizing targets. Do we assassinate the commander spewing muddled speeches, or take out the closest undead before their master generates more?
Alone, the stress and boredom are all the more palpable. You literally click your mouse until your hand numbs, and while zombies get stuck on the architecture ‒ a relief when beset by thousands of their companions ‒ so do you. I never found myself glued to the geometry in the original Nazi Zombie Army, yet I died at least four or five times in the sequel because Karl’s clothing caught on some stray rubble.
You have to work for those killcams.
But what rubble it is. NZA’s gloom and doom settings have nothing on NZA 2’s scenery ‒ a devil worshiper’s wet dream that cranks the apocalypse filter up to 11. Summoning pentagrams line city streets, corpses hang from lampposts like morbid piñatas (with less sugary insides), and zombies emerge from rivers running red with blood. Still, Rebellion rips a few environments from Sniper Elite V2’s campaign again, even if it’s less glaringly obvious. Hell, I might have missed the reused assets entirely were it not for Berlin’s landmarks.
Although Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army 2 is less of a surprise than its forerunner, nothing says goodbye to fall weather like putting bullets in the brains of infected that want to eat yours. With new settings, new zombies, and X-ray killcams to reward your marksmanship, Nazi Zombie Army 2 is a delightful post-Halloween treat.
Release Date: October 31, 2012
Number of Players: 1-4 (Campaign)
Platforms: PC (Reviewed)