War is hell. And that's BEFORE you add zombies to the mix. So take the real history of World War 2 and stir in troops coming back after you've shot them, grey and wide-mouthed, seeking not to slay you but to eat you, and you have a potent mix indeed. One which, as a veteran myself (of more recent vintage, though my father fought in WW2), I am glad to see has been handled sensitively and with respect for the men and women who laid down their lives during the real conflict this game setting is based upon.
The book opens with some fiction mixing authenic-sounding tales of an opposed landing by US forces on a Pacific island defended by the Japanese with the first stirrings of the zombie menace. Scene set, the introduction then lays out what this setting, the most complete one yet provided for All Flesh Must Be Eaten, comprises.
Chapters 2 and 3 present a range of new rules tailored to running a game of all-out war, including aerial combat and the vast array of military weapons and equipment available to service personnel in WW2. It also looks at the personal skills military personnel need, and which zombies may (in part at least) retain...
The rest of the book builds a compelling alternate history of WW2, beginning with the facts as the war actually happened and blending in the emergence of the zombie threat (as if opposing armies, navies and air forces weren't enough to contend with!). Chapter 4 gives the overview, with following chapters exploring the different theatres of war: Europe, the Eastern Front (Germany vs. Russia), the Middle East and North Africa and finally South East Asia. Any of these would provide a good setting for a WW2 zombie game.
The first couple of chapters are useful to player and Zombie Master alike, whilst the rest are mainly for the ZM's eyes alone. Each theatre of war has its different attractions: Europe with ancient legends, likewise Russia (not to mention the cold...) and in South East Asia the jungle can prove as much an enemy as either your opponents or a bunch of zombies! Each chapter is replete with ideas for play throughout the course of the war, which raged 1939-1945 although different nations became active at different times during its course. The general emphasis of this book suggests that characters will be serving in the Allied armed forces fighting against the Axis of Germany, Italy and Japan; but there is sufficient information for those who wish to explore the effects of zombie horror from the Axis standpoint.
As time wears on, all manner of strange things happen. For example, can you imagine the effect on a Battle of Britain Spitfire pilot when a bunch of WW1 biplanes come buzzing around (piloted by zombies of course)? Warriors from even earlier conflicts may eventually be raised to join the zombie hordes too....
Overall, this is a quite spectacular concept well-handled, a considered and thoughtful setting that lets you and your players rampage through recent history, rewriting it as they splatter zombies along with live enemies... and maybe find out where all those darn zombies are coming from!
[5 of 5 Stars!]