In most maps, Zombie Tycoon 2 challenges you with growing your undead army, capturing enemy territory, and eventually surpassing your adversaries. Frima's decision to bring RTS gameplay to PSN seems a little odd given how unwieldy console controls can be for unit management and strategy. Frima mitigates this somewhat by simplifying the control scheme and trimming the strategy gameplay to its core elements. On the control front, commands for each group are bound to a single button, allowing you to quickly assign locations or targets without activating individual units. Your forces also automatically attack in-range enemies, saving you the trouble of manually assigning targets. Meanwhile, traditional gameplay elements like base building, resource gathering, and specialized units are combined using building captures. Each structure you secure provides benefits to your team, such as the aforementioned zombie spawns, decreased fog of war, or turret defenses. Some buildings even let you change the characteristics of your squads, providing access to zombie engineers, fast-moving samurai, poisonous hazmat experts, and more. Not only do these zombie types add variety and specialization to your units, they also add to the ludicrous amusement of Zombie Tycoon's silly, undead world. These changes do sacrifice the tactical depth that hardcore RTS fans crave, but if you prefer a light strategy experience, there's more than enough to enjoy.
Despite the noble attempt to streamline RTS gameplay for PlayStation controls, Frima's results are far from flawless. Precision is still a major problem in several maps, slowing gameplay to a crawl while your units suffer . When you get swarmed by enemies (which happens often, this being a zombie game), choosing priority attacks becomes increasingly difficult when your finger motions keep shooting the cursor just past the intended target. Even worse are maps where highly precise unit movement is required to proceed. Occasionally you'll need to navigate past tightly packed bear traps, deadly acid, and incoming missile attacks, which is frustratingly inconvenient when using button-press movements.
This actually brings up a larger criticism of Zombie Tycoon 2: That it sometimes forgets it's an RTS. Those precise unit movements aren't just tied to strategy gameplay, but to other genre elements unexpectedly thrown into the mix. For example, after an especially strategy-focused chapter halfway through the campaign, Zombie Tycoon 2 suddenly drops you into a one-on-one boss fight. With no preparation, your lone unit must drain a massive health bar while avoiding personal damage, all while using an RTS control scheme. Once you've finally surpassed that surprise obstacle, the next chapter opens with a forced stealth section, requiring you to sneak past insta-killing foes. While Zombie Tycoon 2's humorous tone remains consistent during these sections, the gameplay itself is jarring, and simply doesn't mesh with what's happened so far. If an option to move using the analog stick existed, that would at least make these levels easier, but instead you'll reload multiple checkpoints thanks to threats the tutorial didn't prepare you for.
Bottom Line: Zombie Tycoon 2 is an entertaining attempt to bring RTS gameplay to consoles, with a healthy dose of humor and zombies for good measure. Simplified controls and streamlined tactics greatly assist the experience, but imprecise movements and a lack of consistency keep the single-player campaign back from its full potential.
Recommendation: If you're a PS3 or Vita owner looking for an introductory RTS, Zombie Tycoon 2 is a great strategy-light option. Just don't expect it to have the depth or refinement of its PC cousins, and you'll have a great time.
This review is based on the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
Game: Zombie Tycoon 2: Brainhov's Revenge
Genre: Real-Time Strategy
Developer: Frima Studio
Publisher: Frima Studio
Platform(s): PS3, PS Vita, PSN