Zombie Tycoon 2: Brainhov’s Revenge Review—If It Ain’t Broke, Fix It Anyway
Normally, we don’t review full PSN titles. But we are gladly making an exception for titles that are sequels to or full blown remakes of our beloved Minis. One of the most recognizable and enjoyable Minis was a little gem called Zombie Tycoon. Developed by Canadian developer Frima Studio and released October 29, 2009, Zombie Tycoon is a real time strategy game that put you in the role of evil genius Tycoon. Tycoon’s only mission in life was to cause as much havoc as inhumanly possible by unleashing his zombie army onto the poor unsuspecting meat-bags of the world.
Nearly four years later, Tycoon returns with an array of improvements to his army, but this time his opposition consists of something a bit more resilient than squishy humans. His mentor Brainhov is back, and he is not exactly happy that Tycoon left him to rot.
Zombie Tycoon 2′s single-player component plays out over 8 chapters. Chapters are cleared by completing objectives, and each chapter also has optional goals. These goals range from defeating bosses with a certain amount of health to completing the chapter in a certain amount of time. If you are a fan of Trophies, you are going to want to complete these goals because they are tied to Trophies. Oh yes, ladies and gentleman, Trophies. With Zombie Tycoon 2 being a full PSN title, it has Trophy support, and better still, it has a Platinum Trophy. The list is shared between the PS3 and Vita, so no double dipping. That brings me to another perk of Zombie Tycoon going full PSN: not only is the game Cross-Buy (meaning when you buy the Vita version, you get the PS3 version, and vice versa), it’s Cross-Save and Cross-Play as well. Progress you make on one version can be uploaded to the magical storage cloud and downloaded to the other.
The game plays much like Zombie Tycoon but with a few exceptions. In the original, zombies had to be equipped with special items that allowed them to overcome certain obstacles. Not only was that a vital gameplay mechanic, it was also the game’s hilarious cosmetic system. There are still times where special zombies are needed, but instead of equipping items, you take over special buildings and have your zombie slaves enter them to take on a new appearance and its abilities. For example, having your zombies take over and inhabit a city dump will turn them into scavengers. Scavengers attack from a distance, using TVs, poles, trash, and anything else they can get their smelly hands on and throw. You need to clean up some toxic waste? Take over a recycling center and get yourself a herd of cleaners. Frima also throws a curve ball at you in the form of factions. Zombie stats depend on if you’re representing Team Tycoon or Team Brainhov. Tycoon’s zombies are domesticated; they act as one and have higher stats. Brainhov’s zombies are feral; they have lower stats but are ruthless and attack in larger numbers. Success in each chapter depends solely on your understanding of your faction’s strengths and weaknesses and how well you manage them.
Zombie Tycoon 2 introduces another neat thing: monsters. These giant piles of “move the hell out of the way” act as your enforcer. The muscle. They can take and dish out a lot of damage. They oftentimes can be the key to a chapter’s success. Each faction has 2 monster representatives, each with 4 unique abilities, at least one of which gets unlocked as time goes on. These abilities consist of buffs, traps, combos, and restoration. I find them to be perfect as cannon fodder. I usually send them out to assess the situation when I am unsure if it is safe for Tycoon or Brainhov to change locations. Even if they die, they respawn after a certain amount of time, and they usually take a few of the opposition with them.
Opposition consists of several things: the opposing faction, meat-bags, and environmental hazards. The meat-bags have two offensive forces, police and rednecks. Police are just walking piles of tasty. They do little damage and take even less. Rednecks, though. These dudes are no joke. They are monster-level tough. Big burly individuals packing chainsaws and double barrel shotguns. Just a couple of these guys can take out a monster without much issue. If that weren’t enough, people residing in the houses will fling objects at you. There is also spilled toxic waste that litters the ground in a few of the chapters. It will damage anything that passes over it.
Zombie Tycoon 2 features online, Cross-Play-supported multiplayer. This means you can compete against friends that are on either system. The multiplayer plays pretty much the same way as the single-player. You are put on opposite ends of the map, and the goal is to take out the opposing faction’s mobile spawner. This is best achieved by having the most buildings under your control, especially buildings that allow you to change zombie classes. When you have a large number of zombies on the field, you can send them all at the opponent at once, kamikaze-style.
Visually, Zombie Tycoon 2 looks good on the Vita and great on the PS3. But there are some technical issues. AI suffers from a lack of intelligence at times. There were times when the opposing faction was attacking and my units stood by literally a few feet away and did nothing. I had to command them to take action. It doesn’t happen too often, but sometimes you are doing multiple things at once and may not be able to constantly keep an eye on all of your squads. Then there are times when your units are moving from one location to the next. Rednecks, police, and the opposing faction may give chase, attacking while doing so, but your squad won’t stop and take out the threat. They just keep moving as though nothing is happening until you give them the command to stop and attack, they reach their destination, or they all die. Another issue, unrelated to AI, is the Vita version suffering from longer load times than the PS3 version. It doesn’t distract from the gameplay, though. Incidentally, the Vita version does not have any Vita-specific features. That was done to keep the experience between the 2 versions the same. That isn’t an issue; I just thought I should mention it. Lastly, the Vita version suffers from some slowdowns not present in the PS3 version.
All in all, the game is well worth its $9.99 asking price (free if you subscribe to PlayStation Plus). It gives you everything you loved about the first game and adds some things you will love to see again if a Zombie Tycoon 3 ever gets made. If you enjoyed Zombie Tycoon, you’ll no doubt enjoy Zombie Tycoon 2. Even if you haven’t played the first game, there is still a lot of fun to be had with this one. It’s hilarious and has one of the funnest final bosses I’ve come across in a long time. Plus, Tycoon is sexy. That alone should be enough to make you want it.