Also On: PSN, PS3
Publisher: Frima Studios
Developer: Frima Studios
At first I thought I disliked Zombie Tycoon 2 because of its level of difficulty. After all, it starts off kind of hard, and the controls are a little tough to figure out at first. But then you get the hang of what you're supposed to be doing, and you realize that that's pretty much all there is to it, and by the second level or so — some random (and frustrating) difficulty spikes throughout the game notwithstanding — that's no longer a concern.
So then I thought maybe I my problem was with the genre. After all, it's a real-time strategy game, and I've never been a big RTS fan. But then I realized that 1) there are some RTS games I enjoy — the first Zombie Tycoon among them — and 2) even when I haven't liked certain strategy games, I was still able to appreciate their good points and see why some people like them so much (X-COM, I'm looking in your direction). So it wasn't genre holding me back from enjoying Zombie Tycoon 2.
Then I figured it might be the platform. I mean, sure, theoretically its status as a cross-buy game means that it should work just as well on the Vita as it does on the PS3, but surely the developers had one of the two in mind as they were creating the game. So I tried it on one, and tried it on the other…and found, ultimately, that while there are probably some differences between the two versions, they're too inconsequential to make a difference.
Then I decided it had to be the bugs. I mean, the freezing, the slow-downs — a few issues here and there, and suddenly all the good things a game might do go out the window. And yet…while the bugs are hardly a mark in Zombie Tycoon's favour, I can't say that they had a huge impact on my enjoyment of the game one way or another. Heck, at a few points freezing actually helped, since when I turned my console back on, I was suddenly advanced to the next checkpoint. I'm not going to complain about being pushed forward during a game that bores me half to de–
And there it is. That's why I don't like Zombie Tycoon 2: because, above all else, it's boring. More than the frustrating spikes in difficulty or the bugs, the whole game is just a neverending slog. It feels like you're doing the same thing over and over and over: you spawn some zombie hordes, you direct them to move very slowly in the direction of a target, they hit it for a few minutes until it dies/you take control of it, and…repeat. Not even the presence of boss fights or stealth levels can break the feeling of monotony that sets it incredibly quickly. I know that some level of patience is required for RTS games, but this — this is something else entirely. It's just dull, and no amount of excuses can hide that fact.
The dullness isn't confined to the single-player mode, either. The game's multiplayer consists of a single map and one-on-one deathmatch. It's a little more challenging, I guess, since you're dealing with an actual person instead of AI, but the extra challenge doesn't make it any more fun. I'm not going to pretend I played multiplayer very much, but I'll say this: in both of my matches, it took me about ten minutes to find the opposing player. By that point, I was so bored with the match that I sent my side's leader straight into the line of fire, just so that I could get the thing over with. I'll admit that I'm not big into online multiplayer, but I have a feeling that "embracing the sweet release of death" usually isn't the reaction developers are aiming for.
So, if you're an RTS-loving Vita owner, bad news: Zombie Tycoon 2 is most definitely not the game you're looking for. But there is a sliver of hope — the original Zombie Tycoon is available as a PSP Mini for about one-third the price, and it's significantly better in almost every way. If you absolutely must have a strategy game on your Vita, then — at least for now (until/unless History Legends of War: Patton gets released on this side of the Atlantic) — that is a much better option by far.