PAX East 2013: Zombie Tycoon 2 and why you should love the Vita

The original Zombie Tycoon was a Playstation Mini that arrived to a somewhat tepid reception. But much like the portable consoles Zombie Tycoon calls home, developer Frima Studio isn’t planning to send the franchise to an early grave. Zombie Tycoon 2 is a more ambitious sequel coming to Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita with cross-buy and cross-play. It’s a realization of the original, but also a departure, focusing on competitive gameplay with a single-player campaign that functions like a very well-produced tutorial.

“We put most of our love into the one-on-one, multiplayer deathmatch,” said Martin Brouard, the executive producer at Frima Studio.

Zombie Tycoon 2 plays similarly to an RTS. The controls are intuitive on both a PS3 controller and Vita. You simply direct your cursor around with the analog stick and give orders to your four different units with the face buttons. From there the strategy comes in. Do you spend time attacking buildings, converting them to your own and upgrading your zombies to specialized units, or do you attack humans to collect the experience points they drop? All the while, you have to keep an eye out for an opponent who is surely plotting their own strategies.

Each team has a mobile base, and destroying that mobile base is the key to victory. It can go into the fray and attack, but you’re also potentially opening yourself up to a quick defeat. In the match I played, after building up my forces and poising for attack, my opponent wanders his mobile base towards a powerful human AI that made short work of him. There is a risk/reward to anything you do in the environments.

Zombie Tycoon 2

Along with your mobile base, you’ll also have your choice of zombie team, with the option of old-school slow moving zombies and the more modern runner zombies, each with unique strengths and weaknesses. Topping that off, you’ll also have your choice of several monster units, powerful creatures with unique abilities. All of them are designed with a colorful, funny, cartoon style, and the game looks great on both platforms.

Speaking of both platforms, I asked Brouard to give his thoughts on the Vita as a platform, considering its failure to take off and the bad press it gets, I thought someone working on the platform would have something to say about it, and he sure did.

“Vita will prevail! I love this platform, it’s an awesome device, it’s really really good,” he said. “Just, it needs more love from the developers, it needs more love from the press, from everybody. It’s a solid platform, games can be awesome on this. I’ve been playing Persona, I’ve been playing a lot of really cool titles, Sound Shapes, and Guacamelee is coming for it too! Zombie Tycoon 2, we’re really proud of having that on Vita.”

Of course, those aren’t the types of games that get brought up when we talk about Vita’s failure though, and Brouard knows this: “You know who failed at most of the titles on Vita is, you know, the bad ports of Call of Duty and stuff like that. Those were probably made pretty quickly and without as much love.”

Zombie Tycoon 2

“We need a threshold of games where people go, okay, there’s enough content there that I’ll feel good buying one. I have so many games on my Vita I don’t have time to play all of them. I’m a Playstation Plus subscriber and I’m like, ‘Oh my god I have all these games I don’t even have time to play them.’”

On the indie game front, it seems like the platform is getting the support it needs. Just recently it seems like every famous indie game in recent times has announced a Vita version. “Sony is really good with indie developers.,” explained Brouard. “Our relationship with Sony is great. They’ve been working with us, they want good content, they want original stuff. The guys and the girls who work there, they’re passionate about video games as a very original medium with great content.”

Hopefully that will translate into the prevailing Vita Brouard hopes for.

Zombie Tycoon 2 will be available April 30th for $9.99 on PS3 and Vita.

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