Alternate history is a fascinating little concept in of itself, displaying not only the power of the human imagination but also its willingness to either avoid the mistakes or emulate the successes of the past. What better playground for this kind of thinking, then, than that of the WWII horror computer game? Taking alternate history up to and beyond the limits of plausibility and scientific possibility, titles like Sniper Elite’s Nazi Zombie Army Trilogy and Return to Castle Wolfenstein offer some of the most enthralling, if somewhat ridiculously-premised alternative horror WWII action that money can buy.
Nazi Zombie Army 2 is Sniper Elite’s second venture into the alternative horror-history of the world, and it’s safe to say that it’s a corker. Its gameplay takes place across a series of levels, which are essentially like well-designed shooting ranges ranging in nature from expansive outdoors environments to enclosed, gloomy corridors. Progress through each level is blocked by several barriers, each being eliminated when you eradicate the last of each wave of zombies.
The use of the original Zombie Army’s mechanics and inventory here is a little disappointing, and playing this in any other mode than multiplayer simply isn’t that exciting. However, the fact that it uses the original’s mechanics also means that you get to engage in some extremely satisfying scenarios involving the planning of your attacks as well as leading your undead enemies into various shooting traps laid out for them.
Nazi Zombie Army 2’s positives by far outweigh the negatives. The range of sniper rifles, variation in enemy attackers, and variety of multiplayer scenarios grounded with classic Sniper Elite physics makes it a top pick for the alternative horror WWII games genre.
Zombie Army Trilogy
One of the main benefits of choosing Rebellion’s Nazi Zombie Trilogy over any of the games by themselves is the storyline. It’s not a compelling plot by any means, but the search for the artefacts said to be a catch-all remedy to the world’s zombie problem gives the gameplay a sense of purpose.
The centre of the game’s appeal remains, as it did so with the previous Sniper Elite games, in its sniping mechanics. The headshots required to put down your undead Nazi foes play out in slow-motion with a bullet-following camera. This makes each splattering headshot hugely satisfying to watch, not to mention puts Zombie Army Trilogy far ahead of its WWII alternative horror rivals like Nacht Und Nebel.
The horror-filled alternative history of the three games in this trilogy is in itself reason enough to play it making it one of the best alternative survival horror games for PC, but the trilogy means triple the fun as well as a multitude of weapons, gameplay modes, and enemy types to enjoy along the way.
There’s no doubt that this game has a novelty and nostalgic appeal for original Wolfenstein fans, but Return to Castle Wolfenstein is generally regarded as one of the greatest shooters of its time for a variety of reasons. Its plot involves a mish-mash of Nazi foes ranging from undead zombie Nazis to robotic members of the SS. Your foes are frequently terrifying in their appearance and their abilities, but things are helped by the fact that you encounter a range of historical and fictional weapons ranging from standard German pistols and SMGs to the powerful Tesla cannon.
RTCW’s multiplayer mode was also lauded for its innovative cooperative aspects as well as the different historical weapons available to each team. Though the graphics are dated compared to today’s titles – this includes Wolfenstein: The Old Blood – its gameplay holds its own and the soundtrack is nothing less than sublime.