Rebellion’s Zombie Army Trilogy is a remastered compilation of the Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army games released in 2013 for the PC along with a third unreleased game for added content. From that standpoint alone, the games stand out as ports for the PS4 and Xbox One than remastered games.
However, Zombie Army Trilogy has also been released for the PC, fulfilling its compilation purposes while serving a Metro Redux-like role in revisiting the franchise while visually polishing it (except on a much lesser scale). Confused? Whichever way you look at it, Zombie Army Trilogy is Sniper Elite meets Zombies for the current generation of consoles. And we’re going to find out whether these games are glorified ports, full-blown remasters or something in-between.
Head to head gameplay comparison between the PS4 and Xbox One versions. Select 1080p and 60fps for the best possible quality.
In terms of resolution and frame rate, both the PS4 and Xbox One versions run at 1920×1080 resolution and 60 frames per second. Sniper Elite 3 featured the same settings but the frame rate wasn’t locked at 60 FPS, just like like Zombie Army Trilogy. Both games differ in their overall scale though (which we’ll get to in a bit) but when we looked at Sniper Elite 3 on the Xbox One and PS4, we noted frame rate fluctuations on both versions in a previous analysis. The PS4 version would drop as low as 40 frames per second and while the Xbox One did better, it was severely hurt by screen-tearing.
Zombie Army Trilogy, on the other hand, is more consistent. It’s the Xbox One version again which features the least drops in frame rate though it’s still a far cry from being locked at 60 FPS. The screen tearing is also a factor, though not as major as Sniper Elite 3 – it can occur during the bullet cam and much more rarely when running around (as noted in our official review).
Regardless of its frame rate issues, Rebellion did a much better job optimizing Zombie Army Trilogy for the PS4 and Xbox One than it did for Sniper Elite 3. This perhaps comes down to improved development on the Asura engine, Rebellion’s in-house propiertary engine which it’s been constantly working on for 14 years. Sniper Elite 3 saw the larger number of changes for Asura, managing dynamic shadows and the shift between day and night settings while managing numerous light sources. Multi-threading also helped the engine to take advantage of multi-core CPUs, a significant upgrade over Sniper Elite v2.
Head to head screenshot comparison between the PS4 [left] and Xbox One versions.
Asura’s biggest strength is in the use of obscurance fields. This technology essentially paints characters with soft shadows on top of natural shadows, giving definition to different body parts like the arms, chin and legs when a character is in motion. It’s meant to properly simulate real-world lighting and accomplishes it with minimal dithering. When seen in Zombie Army Trilogy, it gives a much stronger vibe and look to the zombies you kill and the soldiers you command.
Atmospheric and volumetric effects have also been significantly improved from previous games. Effects like smoke and fire look great, the foliage appears more detailed, and you’ll take note of effects like fog throughout the game. That last point is especially important since it helps mask the smaller scale of Zombie Army Trilogy’s levels. Each setting is still impressive aesthetically whether you’re traversing the dank, ruined villages or navigating streams of hellfire and you’ll only notice the change in scale if you’ve only played the regular Sniper Elite games over the years.
Not everything is hunky dory on the PS4 and Xbox One though. Both versions make use of a customized fast approximate anti-aliasing (FXAA) solution which is far from the best. It gets the job done without draining resources but one will also notice low resolution textures and crooked animations during the cut-scenes. It just goes to show you that even if it released on the PC in 2013, both games still utilized previous generation textures. This isn’t helped by the lack of depth of field, a discrepancy which is odd for any first person shooter and all the more glaring in a sniping-based game. Motion blur is included but ranks below average in its implementation.
More head to head screenshot comparison between the PS4 [left] and Xbox One versions.
As if the low resolution textures didn’t seem shabby enough at times, low anisotropic filtering is present on both versions, causing blurry-looking textures. Tessellation is also included on the consoles but looks significantly toned down from the PC version.
We tested the PC version of Zombie Army Trilogy on an Intel i7-4930K with two GPUs and resolution settings – the Nvidia GTX 690 at 1920×1080 resolution and the GTX 980 at 3840×2160 resolution. The results were quite impressive.
GTX 690 (1920 X 1080) – 105 fps GTX 980 (3840 X 2160) – 48 fps
Texture quality is not only superior on the PC but it boasts a range of graphical options. Anti-aliasing, draw distance and anisotropic filtering can be maxed out (though finer AA options are missing) and super-sampling is also available as an option. Frame rate issues are lacking thanks to V-sync and the excellent optimization done by Rebellion. Even features like motion blur and tessellation look far better on the PC but that’s just stating the obvious. It should be noted that regardless of one’s configuration, strong performance is guaranteed. Admittedly, though the X-Ray bullet cam looks great across all versions, it out-cools everything else on PC.
What isn’t cool is an odd issue involving flickering lights on the PC. We don’t know what causes it but it can be quite annoying.
PC Graphics Settings.
Zombie Army Trilogy isn’t the best looking game by a long shot and it’s certainly not the most polished remaster/port available on the current generation of platforms. However, for all of its issues, Rebellion managed to excellent craft the atmosphere befitting that of a World War II, zombie-infested shooter, mixing historical accuracy with demonic events and gruesome enemies. Whether this results in a fun game or not depends on the player (and really, you should be playing it with friends).
However, if you’re utterly spent on the likes of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and don’t quite like the feel of Exo Zombies in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, the visuals in Zombie Army Trilogy are more than enough to satisfy the zombie culler in you.
GamingBolt’s Bill Smith conducted the tech analysis of this game.