Zombie Attack! Second Wave Review

Zombies are everywhere nowadays, with their never-ending quest for brains playing out in books, videogames, and movies. In fact, there’s probably one behind you right now. But if not, you’ll find a new tower defense game full of them on the App Store, called Zombie Attack! Second Wave.

A follow-up to last year’s IUGO original, Second Wave brings even more tower defense action to the Halloween-inspired game world. Instead of playing an offscreen commander and planting turrets to stop the enemies from advancing like in most tower defense games, in Zombie Attack you control a playable character trying to protect his house.

This is a very cool concept, and it makes this game feel different from the billion other tower defense games. You can have your character build turrets in the environment, or you can have him chop away at the bad guys with his machete. But if your house loses all its hitpoints, it’s game over. Curiously, your lone survivor is expendable. The only penalty that results from him dying is a 10-second wait before he respawns.

Distracted by the dummy, pulverized by the heavy weapons.

To protect your house, you can plant a number of excellent, cartoony weapons on the ground, like spinning saw blades, a bashing hammer, a flamethrower, or a dummy that looks like your character. Also included are the usual machine gun, blaster, cannon, etc. Each weapon can be upgraded a number of times to bring even more hurt to the evil parade. Also cool: if you stand next to a turret, it gets a damage bonus until you walk away.

There are two ways to play the game. There’s survival mode, in which you pick a map, try to stay alive as long as possible, and your score is posted to an online leaderboard. Then there’s challenge mode, in which you play within certain guidelines. A challenge might limit your weapon choice or put you against self-healing zombies. The challenges are still high-score affairs, so there’s no way to officially beat any of them. Aside from achieving a high score, there’s not much sense of accomplishment to be found in this game.

With such an interesting premise for a tower defense game, it’s a shame there’s no story mode in Second Wave. If they had come up with even a basic post-apocalyptic story and let us unlock weapons as we played, it would have made us feel like we were progressing.

Wave 39 and counting.

Another problem is that there are only four maps. Compared to other games in the genre, this seems particularly light in content. And the pace of the game is slow, too. Each wave of zombies gets only slightly more powerful, and you won’t have trouble keeping up until about twenty minutes into each play session. We wish we could have spent less time on weak creatures, and more time fighting for our lives.

Overall, though, this game is a lot of fun. The unique setting, cool weapons, and ability to control a character onscreen make it stand out in the tower defense crowd. It’s not perfect, but if you’re in the market for yet another game in this genre, you could do a lot worse than Zombie Attack! Second Wave.

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