Zombies Around The World
Yes, zombies are still a thing. They’ve had more cultural staying power than the Miller Lite All-Stars. They’ve had tons of hit movies, an award-winning television show or two and even won Game of the Year. In fact, in the video game world, it feels like every other game that gets published centers on zombies. So it’s not likely we were overly surprised when Frima software released Zombie Tycoon 2: Brainhov’s Revenge.
This is actually Frima’s first step up to the big stage, as Zombie Tycoon 2 is a PS3/Vita cross-buy title. Until now, Frima has stuck with the portable scene with PSP minis like Young Thor, A Space Shooter For Two Bucks and the original Zombie Tycoon as well as a fleet of iOS games. We’ve always found their minis to be among the best so it was going to be interesting to see what they could come up with when they had more space to work with.
It’s actually a bit hard to pigeonhole what type of game ZT2 is. My best description would probably be Anomaly: Warzone Earth with more RTS and less tower defense. You’ll take control of a mobile spawn point that can generate a pair of grunt zombie squads that you then direct against other invading zombies and sometimes against humans. Yes, you are turning zombie against zombie in the most efficient use of zombies possible. Generally there will be some short term goal of reaching a certain area or taking over a certain building to keep you moving forward.
Capturing certain buildings enable upgrades to units like engineer zombies (who can take over and operate certain lifts and gates), samurai zombies (fast and deadly), brawler zombies (slow and deadly) and quite a few others. On top of those two upgradable units you’ll generally be assigned one of four “special” units. These units have four “powers” that you’ll unlock as you use them. One special unit might have mostly shielding and healing powers, while another leaps across the screen and snatches things up (and looks like a giant zombie frog). All of this is easily controlled with a few buttons and the D-pad.
Most levels will end in a boss battle of sorts, and there are occasional stealth sections and other one-off minigames that break things up, but mostly you’ll be mindlessly slaughtering zombies (which also come in a surprisingly large range of models) who come at pretty mindlessly. Your own teams AI is pretty limited itself, often unable to ascertain what to do as they are surrounded by evil zombies tearing them apart. Yet other times they will decide they need to drop what they are doing and go engage some loner zombie wandering nearby. It can be frustrating. Of course as long as you keep your spawn point alive you can keep regenerating your squads so it’s difficult to actually lose.
A bit of the dullness of single-player is shined away in 1vs1 multiplayer. If you can find someone to battle it’s definitely a bit more enjoyable to pit your wits against a human opponent who can actually respond to your tactics and hopefully even have some tricks up his sleeve to make you do something more than endlessly plod forward. It was refreshing to challenge my buddy and actually get soundly beaten because he took the time to feint and flank with his zombie attacks (I guess it isn’t quite as realistic, but these zombies are being MIND CONTROLLED man… but wait… don’t they not have minds?) and I didn’t react fast enough.
The game isn’t much to look at, as it seems like maybe the old PSP assets are still being used. The comic-style art means you can forgive a lot in that department of course, but it wouldn’t be terrible to see a curved line or two in there. Frima came up with a witty over-arching story that spans I think 8 chapters. The writing is a little low-brow and sophomoric at times, but I got a few chuckles from the over-the-top Marvin-the-Martian style attitude the protagonist had. The game transitions between your PS3 and Vita nicely, being carbon copies of each other.
Zombie Tycoon 2 is one of those games that suffers from not taking enough chances to do something different. While I can’t say I’ve played a game just like this, I’ve played games with all these disparate ideas at one time or another, and those were generally in a more cohesive and enjoyable package. Combine that with a few annoying interface quirks and worthless AI and you’ve got a game that is worth checking out if you got it free from your PlayStation Plus subscription (you really should have one of those) but it is a tougher call at $9.99 even with cross buy.