Zombie Defense (American spelling only) is the latest tower defence game to hit the Wii U eShop. Yes, that is its name. At least it gets straight to the point! This real-time strategy tower defence game was once an app for Android systems and has now been re-worked for the Wii U.
Like all tower defence games, the main gameplay is dedicated to strategically deploying units in order to fight off the incoming hordes. At the start of each level you are limited by the amount of cash available to purchase units. You can only buy a couple of the basic starters. After popping a few heads you will earn a bit more money to buy more units, upgrade them or get supplies. There’re quite a few options once the level gets going, but I feel the start is always too repetitive. Waves 1-3 in each level always tend to run the same.
Regarding the levels, there are 35 of them in total each with a varying number of waves. Stages are set mostly on the streets with concrete barricades and cars providing cover for your recruits. There are only a certain number of predetermined locations where you can place your fighters, denoted by a green or yellow circle. Generally these are in strategic locations you would probably choose yourself but it still feels a little restricted at times.
There are nice touches that I wouldn’t have expected, such as the possibility to take the high ground on buildings on certain stages. There are also environmental features such as APC turrets that you can activate to help you in your survival attempts.
Zombie Defense’s mobile origins are fairly obvious from the start as the game almost completely revolves around the gamepad as a touch screen. Very few button inputs are used aside from the shoulder buttons to zoom in and out of the screen and the analogue sticks to move the camera around. This, for me, is an immediate shame because as a result you spend the majority of your gaming time staring at the gamepad screen, only looking up at the TV once in a while. I would have liked some standard button inputs to be integrated.
The zombies themselves come in a few varieties. In the beginning stages you will just encounter the standard slow shambling zombies, gradually however, different types will appear such as sprinters, giants and vomiters. Each of them provides a different kind of nuisance you will have to deal with.
Speaking of dealing with things. You have a fairly generous arsenal at your disposal. From snipers, shotgun users, assault rifles, sentry guns and even air strikes, there are plenty of strategies to try. Unfortunately they are all locked away in a skill tree until you can buy the licence to use them. It will take a long time before you get near the more exciting options. I found that clearing a level for the first time didn’t really earn enough cash to be helpful, as I spent so much money within the level just trying to survive. I found I had to go back and re-play stages to grind for a bit more dough (which are much easier once you have a few more upgrades and soldier classes at your disposal).
Now, grinding is never really a good design choice for games. To alleviate this however, there is a speed up feature where you can allow the game to run up to three times the speed, which certainly helps the grinding process. On the other hand, if at times the action is too hectic for you to handle, you can slow time to half speed and even pause the game allowing you to catch your breath and plan what action to take.
The game can be difficult at times if you don’t have the correct upgrades unlocked but it is still a manageable experience, I found it extremely tense on numerous occasions. Every time I challenged a new stage I felt I only just scraped by and it was a great feeling when I managed to vanquish the final wave. There is a ‘Nightmare’ mode for those who would like a real challenge, but personally I felt ‘Normal’ mode was tense enough for me.
The music is fine for what it is. It’s a pretty standard horror affair complete with the high pitch “Aaaahhh Ahhh Aaaaahh Aaaaaaaaaaaah!” vocals. It has a sense of urgency and does fit the game well, if a little repetitive at times.
Overall, Zombie Defense does exactly what it says on the tin. It does what it sets out to do well, even if it can’t really escape its mobile origins. It has plenty of variety and options to tackle stages how you want and can be a fun, tense experience. It all comes down to if you are a fan of tower defence games and if you are willing to pay the premium price to have it on the Wii U. If the answer to both of those is ‘yes’, then it should be a purchase for you.
- Good variety
- Tense action
- Change game speed
- Too much focus on the gamepad
- Upgrades are a little too expensive
Game provided by publisher