There’s a winking truth-in-advertising with Rebellion’s Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army. It spells itself out in its title, throwing any and all subtlety completely out the window in its pursuit of grindhouse pleasures. It hearkens back to the rollicking Seventies, when Nazi Zombies were a surprisingly well-worn trope. Jean Rollin made Zombie Lake, maestro of sleaze Jess Franco threw his hat into the ring with Oasis of the Zombies, and Ken Wiederhorn directed the more subtly titled Shock Waves. Unfortunately, most of these movies weren’t particularly noteworthy, especially when stripped of the eroticism that was usually prevalent in Rollin and Franco’s work. Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army falls into this same lame category, somehow taking a sleazy but entertaining premise and producing a final product that, sadly, should have never risen.
The game starts out promising enough, with a tongue-in-cheek opening set in Hitler’s bunker as the combined forces of the Allies and Stalin attack Germany on both fronts. When advised to surrender, the diminutive dictator barks out the ominous command to “execute Plan Z,” which unleashes—of course—an army of Nazi zombies from their graves to…I’m not really sure. I guess Hitler hopes to push the Allies back and clean up the remaining gut-munchers afterwards.
Once the charmingly B-tinged opening is over, the game proper begins, and it’s a sadly flavorless, bland affair. You charge around a decimated Deutschland and kill Nazi zombies—a concept that sounds much more fun than the execution—in a way that feels so utterly typical that it’s nothing less than completely disappointing. Everything from the controls to the graphics feels pedestrian and completely lacking in anything that would make it unique, which is tragic given the potential for grindhouse sleaze that could be mined.
The only unique aspect of the game comes from the actual sniping, which is a charmingly gory affair the first few times it happens. Executing a well-placed headshot throws the game into a slow-mo bullet cam, which chases the round across the map and gives you an x-ray view as it plows its way through brain and bone. It’s a hoot at first, but it quickly falls into the same trap as the rest of the game: uninspired blandness.
It’s a goddamn tragedy that Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army is so reliant on its theme that it forgets to be a compelling game first. Even with an army of goose-stepping ghouls and more swastikas and pentagrams than the merch table at a Slayer concert, it’s just so damn boring that it’s simply not worth the price, even at a bargain-basement $14.99.
Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army is available now on Steam.