One could argue that zombies have been in just about every type of game – they’ve fought against plants, been beaten by shopping mall residents and have even infected an extremely realistic first-person shooter. Few times, though, have they gotten to be the stars in a game of their own. Zombie Tycoon 2: Brainhov’s Revenge shines the light onto these unsung videogame heroes, as hordes upon hordes of charming ghouls invade the PSN. They’re just starving for affection, if affection could be measured in brains, that is.
If you are looking for a touching storyline, there’s none to be found in Zombie Tycoon 2. Two factions are at odds as to who the world should go to after the humans lost the war against the undead. Tycoon, on his own after breaking free from Dr. Brainhov’s employment, is now rebuilding an army, while Brainhov makes his own move against his pupil.
This epic struggle is fought through simplified but ultimately challenging real time strategy gameplay. Two types of units are mapped to the face buttons on the PlayStation 3 controller or Vita, and can be freely upgraded to a handful of different classes by invading specific building types. A movie theater running a Kurosawa matinee evolves your zombie units into samurai, for instance, while a gym turns them into martial artists. Each class brings about certain pros and cons when it comes to attack power, movement speed, and resilience.
The other two controller face buttons are used to control a faction’s leader unit, who pilots a zombie generator that continuously spits out new units as their zombies die out. Monsters work just like hero units from WarCraft III—simplified RPG characters that learn new abilities the more experience orbs they collect. The monster’s skills are mapped to the directional buttons and work instantly after a short cooldown period.
Controlling units can prove to be a little difficult towards the later levels. There’s no way to order all units to move to a location outside of simply pressing all buttons at the same time, which can prove to be a little annoying when you simply want to move your army through the map. You may also run into an issue where, out of nowhere, your buttons become unresponsive for a couple of seconds, when you switch out from an overview of the map and back into the game, which can throw you off your game.
Unlike a game like StarCraft, there is no build order to worry about in Zombie Tycoon 2. You usually start out with a few units and quickly move on up, customizing zombies as you see fit. Monsters are rarely available from the get go, so there’s a natural flow to every level in the game. There are even stages that don’t even make use of any army building right away, requiring you to, for instance, escape a hostile are with only your lone, weakest unit.
Zombie Tycoon 2‘s single player levels are where most of the replay is found, aside from multiplayer. Each of them provides a list of optional objectives to complete in no particular order, that award you with medals in the form of brains. These objectives start off relatively easy and turn into tough challenges towards the final missions, and vary from run-of-the-mill timed rewards to going out and finishing a level without following objective progression order.
It’s worth noting how long some of the single player levels can take to complete. Most of them can easily run for over an hour, especially if you’re the type of player that has to conquer just about every square inch of a real-time strategy game map. Being so focused (and a little OCD) is very beneficial in Zombie Tycoon 2 not only because it helps you unlock the aforementioned special zombie unit classes, but also in order to increase a super attack that unleashes a horde of zombies at a selected target, at any time during a match. Every building you capture brings in a select number of zombies to that counter, so the larger the number, the more devastating that ultimate attack can be.
The single player mode does an excellent job in introducing gameplay mechanics at an easy to grasp pace. These skills carry over to Zombie Tycoon 2‘s multiplayer mode that puts you up against a friend or a random online player. Aside from selecting a faction and a monster, there isn’t much to customize your army to battle online, and due to the nature of having to level up monsters from the ground up every time you play, there’s little sense of progression if you decide to stick with any particular army setups.
There’s a lot to enjoy in Zombie Tycoon 2, even though at first glance it might seem a little generic and barebones in comparison to more serious real-time strategy games. That’s not just due to its abundance of charm and humor, but also in how easy it is to just pick up and play for short bursts, something that’s not at all associated with RTS games. Zombie Tycoon 2 is an easy going and fun downloadable that can work as an excellent introduction to the genre and as a fun alternative to those looking for a nice distraction away from nerve wracking Zerg rushes and even more ways to introduce zombies into their lives.