We’re all dangerously approaching a zombie-induced fugue by now, I know, but bear with me for one more game. While the original did its job of ‘overhead shooter’ adequately, Krooked Gaming‘s sequel, Attack of the Zombie Horde 2 ($1.00), should really be considered the go-to template for wave shooters of any kind from this point forward.
The surface level of the game hasn’t changed much (it does feature a cleaner UI), although AotZH2 uses its single tiny arena rather effectively. Zombies reprise their role as chief antagonists, joined at times by buzzards and large spiders (somewhere right now Jeff Daniels is cringing at the thought). Boss varieties of each type nicely separate the fighting into standalone waves, and, depending on the difficulty chosen, you’ll need to complete a set number of these waves to be rescued and retain the loot you’ve collected. Fun, but hardly groundbreaking enough on its own.
What gives AotZH2 a deeper replayability than most wave shooters is what’s found under the hood, in the amount of player customization present. The game’s shop features a host of weaponry and permanent upgrades, paid for by the wealthy corpses you’ll slay. Besides the requisite stronger guns, you can buy and equip a special attack such as land mines and grenades, or move up to the ‘bigger bangs’ like airstrikes and nuclear warheads. Of course, these items are walled-off behind higher player levels and prices. The carrot-on-the-stick aspect of the shop keeps you engaged in the task and focused on incrementally-improving over the long haul (i.e. killing a lot of zombies).
Taking its cue from Mass Effect and Battlefield’s multiplayer rewards system, the game doles out its ‘perks’ in cases that are dropped by the boss characters, leaving it to chance what you’ll receive at the end of the run. Higher difficulty levels increase the likelihood of finding better perks, and the skills and modifiers that comprise the system are spread around enough that you can build a surprisingly-varied solider to fit any style. Along with said perks / weapons, you can purchase new loadouts and slots (for a hefty price), allowing you to add to and fine-tune your setup even more, which is a nice incentive for those willing to invest.
All of this is further enhanced by the local / online multiplayer (up to four) and global leaderboards, giving you something to consistently aim for and the option to tackle it with friends. The lone arena will stale over time, and the combat may not feel inspired, but there’s more than enough side elements and customization in Attack of the Zombie Horde 2 to fill any undead void in your heart for a handful of hours.