Zombie Tycoon 2 is a real time strategy (RTS) that has you looking down on your small zombie army to command them against a rival zombie army, all with humans caught in the middle. It is not a zombie management game like the tycoon title would have you believe, you won’t make a money making business of it. It is very easy to pick up and play (especially with a controller). Despite its zombie theme, it feels like it was meant for kids. Its pretty easy and instead of horrific blood and gore, there is a cute cartoony art style along with humorous animated skipable, cut scenes. Its like watching a cartoon with characters that convey so much without saying a word and I’m happy with that.
When the game starts, the zombie apocalypse has already happened. It seems to be a mutant zombie apocalypse that has turned creatures rather than former people. Your allies will even be a mutated badger, disfigured bear, some sort of creature car and a robot. Basically stated, there are two feuding factions of zombies, the green shamblers and the feral blues. The shamblers seem slower with more HP and the feral blues seem quicker with less HP.
Caught between the two feuding factions are the humans. There are easy to kill civilians, police officers with batons or guns, soldiers that take and give heavy damage. There are even thick bodied hill billies with shotguns that will insta kill lesser zombies with their double barrel.
The controls are simple and very controller friendly, since this was originally a console game. Left thumb stick to move the camera, right thumb stick to zoom in or out and rotate. Left bumper brings you to a map of the entire area and your objectives. The face buttons control your groups, two face buttons command two zombie squads. one group is your commander that if he dies, its a game over, but the game is very forgiving and lets you try from the last checkpoint. The commander will eventually be permanently upgraded to have a sentry gun with a wide radius and his vehicle will spawn zombies. The bottom ‘group’ is your ‘hero’ I’ll call it, the mutant thing with powers and a lot of energy. The D-pad controls the special powers of the hero characters. The heroes gain experience to unlock these skills and there are brief cool downs when a skill is used. The heroes seems a little brainless and need your commands, while the zombies will attack enemies in range, but not buildings.
Through the campaign, you first play as the shambling zombies, then you will play the feral zombies at around chapter 4. They don’t play any different really, but their stories are different. The feral zombie story begins before the shambling zombie story, so they are told out of order in the campaign. The objectives are pretty simple, go here, take over this, attack that. Its all marked on your map and there are arrows so you’ll always know the general area where they are. There is fog of war of unexplored areas, so there is a need to explore.
Like many RTS, you can command your horde of zombies to take over houses, tool stores and towers. When you take over something other than a tower or house, you can command your zombies go in and the entire group of zombies will become a different type. Engineers come from tool stores and they can interact with objects on the map, but have no real difference. Flower zombies can be hidden, travel quickly and wait for someone to walk into their trap, brawlers have heavy HP, but less damage per second, Samurai have high DPS, but can’t move as quick, throwers well throw things, damaging buildings more than anything. There are other types, but you get the picture. The game has an easy to use codex (bestiary) of monsters, factions and buildings.
When you take over towers, they give you more map visibility and throw items down on enemies. Finally, the homes are seemingly the most important, they spawn non controlled zombies that will just do their own thing. They’ll take over other houses or attack other zombies for you. If you ever need to summon all of those non controlled zombies to one place, the right bumper will call them in a ‘dead rush,’ but there’s a long cooldown and it rarely feels useful. The enemy faction can retake buildings, human soldiers and hillbillies can liberate buildings from zombie control, so there is a tug of war there.
Its not just the art style and humor that set this game apart from other RTS, it has different sections that I feel deviate from the normal RTS, such as one on one boss fights with patterns, so its not just two ‘hero’ characters knocking on one another. There are also chapters with stealth aspects, avoiding an enemy view radius and hiding in bushes as they pass by. On top of traditional RTS maps, there is usually something interesting happening, such as burrowing badgers that after a countdown will pop up to eat your zombies and a massive zombie straight laser that will go off every so often to cut through your troops. These are nice layers on top of a simple and easy to play RTS.
With all of that being said, I feel the art style might really hold someone back from getting this game. It is a cute and charming style that fits the cartoon humor. I can hope this studio gets a Disney game license in the future. Not everyone is into cartoon charm. Other than on the surface, this is a very easy, shallow RTS, better for kids, but is easy really so bad? In a $1 bundle its a great game and maybe for a younger audience its worth the $10 to play a 6 hour campaign, but there are better RTS out there.