The game title Zombie Defense couldn't be more accurate and straight to the point. Developer Teyon's Wii U début is exactly that: a tower defence/RTS (real-time strategy) game where you fight off waves of zombies in an attempt to save the planet from total zombie supremacy. As with all tower defence games, strategy on the battlefield plays a huge part in your success, as does the way in which you upgrade your squad of burly digital fighters and the equipment you buy for them to use.
Each level contains a certain amount of zombie 'waves' that will be heading your way. With each wave the amount of zombies you'll be facing increases, as does the zombies' endurance, meaning that you'll need to cause them more and more damage to kill them. You start each level with $200 to spend on recruiting soldiers and are tasked with placing them within the various green circles on the ground in which they are allowed to stand.
The game starts off by showing you the ropes (how to place a soldier down, how to move him if necessary, how to purchase supply crates etc.) until you are comfortable enough to be doing things on your own. Killing a zombie earns you cash which you can then spend on recruiting more soldiers, buying grenades or upgrading the soldiers you already have out in the field. Knowing when to spend your money wisely - or when not to spend it - is essential. Everything starts at a slow enough pace for you to get to grips with how everything works, which is especially useful if you're new to the genre.
Once you complete a level you are invited to upgrade your team or equipment with the cash you have earned from that mission. The amount of upgrades available is staggering. Things such as increasing your team size, adding different soldier classes to your recruitment options, increasing your weapon, income and supply stats and even advanced weaponry such as airstrikes and bulldozers make the upgrade screen feel like you've suddenly found yourself in a full budget RPG with an ever growing skills tree. The different tactical strategies that this opens up is significant and means that you can choose how you wish to grow your squad – do you go for an all out attack with the most powerful weapons and soldiers, or do you choose to upgrade your cash income statistics to provide you with as much spending money during levels as possible? It's entirely up to you.
There are 35 levels in total, eight of which are challenges that aren't mandatory to complete the main storyline. As you'd expect, each level increases in difficulty and every now and then a new zombie type is introduced to keep you on your toes. During the early stages of the game the 'Crawler' zombie starts to make an appearance. Certain weaponry such as the sentry, one of the many upgrades available, doesn't affect the Crawler because it sneaks along the ground out of view. As you enter each level you are told which zombies will be part of the attack, meaning that you can plan a strategy before you run in head first and make all the wrong choices.
The gameplay is addictive, which is vital for a tower defence game. Each level leaves you wanting just a little bit more of the action, and seeing the upgrades that you're really desperate to acquire become a more realistic possibility with each mission passing by makes you want to keep battling on.
A great feature of the main battles is the ability to speed up or slow down the time. This allows you to speed things up when you're comfortable with your set up, helping you to earn cash at a much faster rate, but also means that you can slow things right down and take a moment to think things through when you find yourself with 80 bajillion (no, that's not a real word) zombies trying to rip your face off.
The one aspect letting this down a little is that with so many upgrades available it feels like you'll never be able to experience trying them all out. Some of the bigger, more exciting stuff is particularly expensive and you'll likely find yourself getting to the end of the story before you've had a chance to try it. You can of course grind through the early levels again to earn more cash, but grinding isn't most people's cup of tea - or blood if you prefer – although the ability to speed up the gameplay does help with this.
Zombie Defense's Android beginnings are very clear to see. You'll be spending 100% of your time looking at the GamePad with almost all of the controls being touchscreen focused. This isn't a bad thing by any means, however as with an option to send the audio through to the GamePad you can still play the game whilst your family watches something with far less blood and screaming on the TV.
The eight challenges provide a nice, gentle spike in difficulty compared to the main levels and the 'Nightmare' playthrough option is sure to provide a terrifying challenge for those who thought that 'Normal' was too nice and simple. An online leaderboard is also present, leaving those hungry for success with yet another reason to keep on playing.
Although this game doesn't stand out as a definitive tower defence title, a very generous amount of upgrades combined with a very tightly developed main game make it all the more easy to keep playing this addictive little creation. An array of different weapons to play with, zombies to fight off and locations to survive in will satisfy both the casual gamer wanting some fun and the high-score hunters who won't stop until they have total domination.