Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Zombie Tycoon 2: Brainhov’s Revenge

For some dumb reason, I assumed Zombie Tycoon 2: Brainhov’s Revenge was a theme park builder. It’s that word tycoon, which made me instantly think of RollerCoaster Tycoon. Silly me. It is most certainly not that. In fact, it’s an RTS, a genre I’m never good at sinking my teeth into, but I wanted to give it a shot so I at least played through the tutorial and first level. Let’s see if this rotting corpse has any life left in it.

Zombie Tycoon 2: Brainhov’s Revenge begins with Orville Tycoon, former disciple of Professor Brainhov, taking the zombie formula invented by Brainhov and using it to take over the world via shambling hordes of the undead. I’m assuming these characters appeared in the previous game. Orville only acts upon this after Brainhov tests the zombie formula on himself (after a previously unsuccessful test), which actually works, and turns himself into a zombie. All of the levels take place in ruined suburban areas, and the game does a decent job parodying suburbs and southern living. Anyways, Brainhov comes back from the grave and usurps Orville’s mobile zombie base with his more adept feral zombies, subsequently securing his rise back to power. It’s your job to stop him.

The controls take a little bit to get used to, but considering this is an RTS on a console, which means playing with a controller instead of mouse and keyboard, it’s perfectly perfunctory. The left analog stick moves the camera’s position and the right analog stick rotates the camera, letting you zoom in or out. Each unit is attached to a specific button on your controller, such as square or circle, and you move units by pressing these face buttons. The directional pad activates your zombie overlord’s powers, and you can cause a horde to go madly wild by pressing RB. The controls work pretty well–it is better than trying to draw boxes around specific units–but the pathfinding could use some work in spots.

I found the combat to be somewhat underwhelming. As with all things zombies, unless you are 28 Days Later, there’s nothing fast and frantic to watch, even with upgraded ninja zombie classes. Instead, you select your group of undead beings and send them off to slaughter humans or battle against ferals, and everything moves so slowly. Once the fighting starts, you just watch it happen and hope for the best. This is probably pretty common for the genre, but again, it’s not an area I know much about, and I wanted a little more direct involvement.

I will say this about Zombie Tycoon 2: Brainhov’s Revenge. It’s presented well, and the story, which is mostly told without words, is pretty funny and enjoyable to watch unfold. I love the look of both the zombies and civilians. The graphics are not extremely detailed, but are rather going for a colorful cartoon look, and it works. There’s a nicely included codex on the main menu that lets you look at all the zombies, monsters, and buildings up close since you can only zoom in so far during a mission, plus you’ll learn some good info there, like attack damage and HP stats. The music certainly evokes a B-level zombie horror style that somehow infuses mellow jazz and doesn’t really interfere with the bigger picture, and it’s fine if a bit unmemorable.

Looks like I don’t need to pick a side in this battle of zombies versus zombies–Orville or Brainhov. Instead, I’m uninstalling Zombie Tycoon 2: Brainhov’s Revenge from my PlayStation 3 and moving on to something else. Though now I have a hankering to go back and play the original Age of Empires, one of a select few RTS games I enjoyed back in the day. Granted, this was when I literally have three to four games to play on my PC, so my options were limited and I took what I could take.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

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