If you’re willing to overlook some of its problems, you’ll have a great time with Zombie Tycoon.
What’s it like being a zombie? Have you ever asked yourself this question before shooting their heads off, amputating their limbs or making fun of the way they walk? Probably not because if you had, they would have eaten your brain. Luckily, you won’t have to think about that question in Zombie Tycoon, since the title turns the tables and puts you in the shoes of a commander of an undead squad and for the first time in a while, you’ll be glad the zombies get rid of a bunch of humans.
For the uninitiated, Zombie Tycoon is a real-time strategy game where you control an army of flesh-eating zombies. The main objective usually involves reaching the end of a level and to do so, you need to destroy various structures, avoid deadly traps, kill some humans or occupy a hospital to deploy even more of your friends.
So you select a zombie or group of zombies and you instruct them to destroy everything in their path. As you destroy facilities, you find better equipment which can be used to improve the statistics of your squad: running shoes let you move faster, a manhole cover increases your chances to block an attack, a snorkel lets you avoid water hazards and so on. But destroying some specific facilities has more advantages than receiving random equipment items. For example, taking control of a clinic lets you use the former patients as part of your army.
There’s something eminently satisfying about destroying all the facilities in the city, claiming clinics and deploying more members of an unstoppable army of zombies. On top of that, the controls are simple, the levels are colorful, the loading times are short and the GCI sequences look stunning. A run-of-the-mill PlayStation Mini this is not.
Although most of the missions involve going from point A to point B, a few of those missions offer a nice change of pace. In the boss battles, for instance, you need to capture special buildings, create a zombie virus, guide a cow through a maze to propagate said virus and so on. Not all of these special instances are fun, however. Unfortunately, some of these missions are poorly explained and you’ll find yourself using a trial-and-error approach until you find out what you are supposed to do.
But that’s not Zombie Tycoon’s only frustrating aspect. Some environments are filled with traps and to avoid them, you need to wear different outfits, hats or shoes. The problem is that sometimes there are multiple traps in the same section of the map, so you need to alternate between outfits very often. If you make a mistake and forget to equip the required equipment, you’ll lose all your squads, since the traps will kill your hordes of undead creatures automatically.
Furthermore, the camera doesn’t always show you a clear view of the action, so you’ll have a hard time following your zombies. An important part of the game is paying close attention to your squads’ current position and to what lies ahead so that you can prepare accordingly. As a consequence, it’s common to move the camera to see what’s ahead only to miss a trap and if this happens, your zombies will die before you see what killed them.
Zombie Tycoon is an innovative strategy game with creative ideas, pleasant visuals, solid gameplay and entertaining missions. If you’re willing to overlook some of the game’s problems, you’ll have a great time with Zombie Tycoon.