The RTS genre has been a hard one to crack for consoles. Much like the FPS, something about the mouse and keyboard set up really just makes it feel so much better on the PC. Starcraft 64 and Command and Conquer both tried their hands at bringing the RTS experience to consoles int he past and even newer games Halo Wars and Stormrise never really caught fire. This immensely popular genre seems like it could work on a bigger screen that’s farther away than your desktop monitor (heck, I could even imagine motion controls working well), so why has it not done well so far? Does Frima Studio’s latest entry into the genre finally bring the RTS experience to the home console, or will this remain a genre best left to the PC?
Zombie Tycoon 2: Brainhov’s Revenge is a PSN exclusive title which is only $10 or free for PS+ subscribers at the moment. It is an RTS/MOBA hybrid that strips down the complexities of the two genres to offer a streamlined and fast-paced take on them. Though it offers limited options, it brings both single and multiplayer and has a unique style and charm which should keep players coming back, if only for a little while. It does a few things right and a few things wrong, but overall it’s a fun and light-hearted experience that should offer a little diversion from other games.
I’ll start by being honest with you. You’re not going to be playing this game with the same sort of cerebral complexity as you would your standard RTS. There is no way to control individual units – this means no adding in a single support unit to a group or sending out one unit to act as a scout. While the game does offer a fairly diverse selection of group types to play these roles, the lack of unit control does take quite a bit away from the experience. There are also no tech trees or build orders to worry about. In order to create a somewhat streamlined approach to these RTS staples, your zombies can invade certain types of buildings and develop into zombies with more health, strength, or other specializations. This approach does make the game a much faster experience, but perhaps at the cost of a secondary strategic element that many fans of the genre enjoy.
Though the game might have some of the more refined elements of the RTS genre missing, it still offers a fun, fast, and fluid experience. Missions don’t generally take too long, and there isn’t much of a learning curve to the game (though, this could be seen as a negative). The story in the game is quite comical and fits with the cartoony aesthetic perfectly. Small cutscenes begin and end each mission, but never really intrude on your playtime and are generally enjoyable. While the surge of zombie games could turn some off from giving this game a try, they are actually quite well done and don’t feel overwrought in zombie-horror.
The game overall would be short, if not for an unwarranted spike in difficulty about halfway through the game. This is not one of those spikes where maybe you missed a finer point earlier, or you need to try out a new strategy, because honestly, there aren’t that many. This is a spike where the game just throws too much at you and has not provided adequate tools to overcome the obstacle. It is indeed possible to get past these parts, but not because you finally figured out some grand strategy. No, the spikes can be overcome by pure dumb-luck. This is another example of the problems that the streamlining process causes. While most desktop (or couch) generals have their own strategies that are tested and true, there is too much of a limit to the tactics and unit movement that can be practiced here, causing the game to basically ‘bottleneck’ when it tries to put the player into situations that the game is not built to overcome.
Zombie Tycoon 2: Brainhov’s Revenge does offer a pretty fun and streamlined RTS for the console, but not one without its fair share of problems. While the game’s fast and grab-and-go nature is enjoyable, there are simply too many problems to make this a strong recommendation. From the lack of individual unit control and upgrade management to an unwarranted difficulty spike, this falls into the category of an average experience best left to the PC. Brainhov’s Revenge gets a 3 out of 5 stars. While it does do many things right and is a noble entry into the genre, the lack of control and finesse really hurt the final product. Check it out if you are looking for a bit of an RTS experience, but don’t expect anything close to a round of getting your ass kicked in Starcraft.