Zombie Estate 2

Sigh.  You know, despite having played literally dozens of games just like this, when I saw screens for Zombie Estate 2, I got excited.  I know that I sometimes bitch about being fatigued by the endless zombie games on XBLIG, or the endless twin-stick shooters, or especially combinations of the two.  But, just the prospect of a decent one gets me excited.  Yea yea, I’m supposed to be too hip for this kind of stuff and not admit what I just said.  It would be like admitting that I’m a fan of nose-picking.  Which I’m not, even though there are few things in life quite as satisfying as picking your nose.  Especially when you get a particularly stubborn booger that’s lodged way up there.  When you finally yank it out, it’s practically nirvana.

I’m guessing all those invites I get to gaming conferences just dried up.  It’s just as well.

It didn’t take too long into Zombie Estate 2 to realize the game would have big, big problems.  Not among them are the graphics, which offer some charming 2D visuals.  Can’t get enough of those.  Okay, so the text is too small, which is about as common a problem as you’ll find on the XBLIG scene.  My television is so big that God had to first move it out of the way before creating light, and yet I practically had to sit on top of the screen to make out some of the words.  Still, games with graphics that do this good a job of putting a modern twist on blocky, low-resolution 80s pixel art are typically pretty high in quality.  Maybe Zombie Estate 2 would be no different, but it has one very glaring issue: the difficulty is so intensely out-of-bounds past the point of reality that it simply can’t be enjoyed.

There are a ton of goodies to unlock in Zombie Estate 2.  I just wish the game you have to play to unlock them was fun.  It's just frustrating.

There are a ton of goodies to unlock in Zombie Estate 2. I just wish the game you have to play to unlock them was fun. It’s just frustrating.

ZE2 is a wave-shooter with enemies that are spongy and move much faster than you.  And it’s not just a few zombies either.  It’s having large portions of the screen saturated with the fucking things.  The game doesn’t send out just enough zombies to make up the wave.  Oh no.  Let’s say that the object of a level is to kill 100 zombies, and you have 99 killed.  How many zombies would you expect there to be on the screen?  Just one, right?  Try dozens.  All of which are grouped together.  When you kill the last one, the rest just vanish into thin air.  This gives you a chance to pick up those items.  Unless they’re about to blink out of existence themselves, which they do too quickly.

In order to better fight off the hoards, you can buy new weapons or upgrade existing ones.  Sounds, great, except picking up item drops (such as money) is a chore itself.  When you kill a zombie, chances are it’s part of the pack that’s closing in on you.  As soon as it drops something, whatever it is gets immediately covered up by dozens of enemies.  Your character sucks up items, but the range and speed it does so is so negligible that it might as well not do that.  And besides all that, enemies rarely drop valuable money or health packs.  Mostly, they drop ammo.  This would be fine, except they mostly seemed to drop ammo for guns I didn’t have.  It’s around this point that you realize if there’s such thing as a game that is an asshole for the sake of being an asshole, it’s Zombie Estate 2.  It’s not lovable or fun to be around, nor does it make any effort at doing so.

I played with one friend, but we quickly grew tired of the spongy enemy spam that made item-drops unobtainable.  Not alone either.  People on Twitter are alerting me that with four players they couldn't make it past the fifth wave either.

I played with one friend, but we quickly grew tired of the spongy enemy spam that made item-drops unobtainable. Not alone either. People on Twitter are alerting me that with four players they couldn’t make progress either.

Over the course of 48 hours, I played Zombie Estate 2 three separate times, and ended each session in utter frustration.  How can a game with all the fundamental mechanics for a pretty good time be so thoroughly destroyed by reckless design?  For God’s sake, there are fire enemies that can spawn right on top of you with no warning right in the middle of the fucking map!  No matter how much I bobbed and weaved around the level, they would appear on me, and I would start to lose health.  What the fuck, Zombie Estate 2?  Were you abused as a child?  Mind you, this is on the easiest difficulty setting.  You can go ahead and call me a shitty gamer too.  I think if I’m defined as being a bitch because I don’t think you should have a game where enemies randomly spawn on top of you, I can live with the label.  Or the tired “you just suck at games” label that is the be all, end all excuse horrible game enthusiasts throw at me when I say “this game is not worth buying.”  And Zombie Estate 2 is not worth buying.  Too difficult.  Too concerned with making the game excruciating instead of entertaining.  It resists being fun.  It looks like it will be good, and it sounds like it will be good, but it just is not good.  It’s the Kwame Brown of video games.

xboxboxartZombie Estate 2 was developed by, um, some guys that made a game called Zombie Estate 2.

80 Microsoft Points figure it’s yet another case of a developer getting to good at their own game but didn’t mention it in the body of the review because they don’t want to sound like a broken record in the making of this review.  Seriously though, why is the game so fucking impossible on casual mode?  And why do the flame guys spawn on top of you?  And why doesn’t the game drop more money?  These questions should probably be answered since they all make the game less fun than it can be.  Games are supposed to be fun, right?  If not fun, entertaining.  Difficult can be fun.  Unfairly difficult never is.

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About Indie Gamer Chick
The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

17 Responses to Zombie Estate 2

  1. Chris says:

    Zombie Estate 2 is an exceptional game that I would have gladly paid $15 dollars for if it were an “arcade” game instead of an “indie” game. The best I’ve done so far (single player only) is passing wave 40 on unlimited mode.

    If you’re having trouble getting though casual mode and having money issues, here are some sure-fire tips for success.
    #1 – Try playing as Linda, her bow & arrow starting weapon is very very good (especially after upgrading) and you won’t need an upgrade for several waves. I’ve made it through wave 12 with just robots minions and the bow & arrow only, it’s that good.
    #2 – Buy the $270 robot minions and upgrade them ASAP. You can have 2 out at a time.
    #3 – Once you have the robots, you won’t need anything better until you can afford the shotgun minions for a little over $1000.

    If you can follow these tips (or at least #2 and #3), you’ll find that you now have killing capacity to spare and can play around with the other weapons to see what works best for you.

    • I’ll give it a shot. I was planning on a four-player Second Chance with the Chick session. This really seemed like a game I should have enjoyed. But I really, really was frustrated by it.

      • Zach D. says:

        Basically everything Chris said. It’s a great game when you get the hang of it all. I’m alright in single player, but the game is best played with at least one friend. And plenty of turret/minion friends. :p

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  4. Brian B. says:

    The biggest problem with the game is its insane lack of balance. Some weapons are basically useless (don’t even bother with melee). One of the best weapons in the game? The Card Shuffler. Great crowd clearing, basically instant reload, and not weak at all. Save up for that weapon and the healing drop weapon (700G) and that is all you will need (usually). If you want to play someone other than Linda (again, balance issues), buy the Triple Shot weapon for 880G. It’s almost the same as Linda’s starting weapon.

    By the way, zombie waves are random, so some playthroughs will be harder than others as you may not even SEE those pesky teleporting fire zombies. Personally, I hate the fat ones, who trap you in deadly vines if you get too close. Those ice guys are freaking sturdy, too.

    Casual is way too hard, as you said. I suspect they intended it to be played multipayer mostly and just didn’t consider how ruthlessly hard random difficulties can be when you are the only player. Probably should have had more testing done by someone other than the developers. It’s disappointing, really, because the first one rocked so much, and this one should have too. (Also, am I the only one that HATES unlocking stuff? lol)

  5. pokealbin says:

    Epic game actually especially with four players lots of replayability lots to buy totally worth 80 points you surely dont know what you talking about

  6. Calin Murphy says:

    Yeah, I just played this game with two friends and we had a wonderful time.

    And maybe it’s just me, but usually when I keep getting destroyed in a game, I chock it up to not playing well enough. rather than saying the designers made it “too hard.”

    Not EVERY weapon in the game is going to just mow down zombies like daisies. When you play with your friends, you have to work as a team. Healers, tanks, and dps roles all come into play here. If everyone runs around the map aimlessly spraying bullets at the hordes, you won’t get too far.

    Yes there’s a balance problem, and some of the enemies are difficult to defeat, but if you play carefully and skillfully, you’ll succeed at any difficulty. This game is challenging, but it is not broken and unplayable.

    I do however, hope to see it patched. It would be great to see a good amount of new weapons and characters, plus a little more balance to some of the content already available.

  7. hellhoundf5 says:

    I really enjoy zombie estate 2,recently did a lets play in it and had a blast 🙂

  8. spencer says:

    Id have to disagree with this whole review. My friends and i play this all the time and we fucking love it! There are unique stats and weapons to every character and customization that gives the game enough depth to keep thebgame interesting. And the game is far from hard, I have beaten the game many times on the hardest difficulty. I think you are just a very pathetic gamer.

  9. zack2070 says:

    yeah you must suck or something i just got it today and played through hard mode fairly easily

  10. gnormis says:

    What a fucking scrub. Casual mode is easy as dicks. Play dark souls you fucking casual

  11. Jimmy Johnny says:

    The enemies do not spawn randomly. For the fire zombies you will see a ring of fire appear on the spot on which they will spawn. This is a very enjoyable game and it is fun to play with friends. The first one was awesome and part 2 improved on certain aspects of the game. Melee weapons are awesome. Totems add an interesting level of strategy to the game. I do agree about waves having a target number before they disappear. In the original they would unleash the entire horde and the wave would end after you killed them all, but at the same time that approach leads to unbalanced difficulty within the waves, where the beginning is easy since they spawn at the edges of the map, the middle is intense and hard, then the end is easy again because there are only a handful of enemies scattered around the map.

  12. A few of the critical comments here were completely unwarranted.

    I’ve personally got a ton of mileage out of the game even in only single-player, but twin-stick shooters are one of my favorite genres (Geometry Wars 2, Robotron, Smash TV, etc.) Experience in those games certainly assisted in both my proficiency and enjoyment of the game, as it’s a lot easier to enjoy the game when you feel like you’re doing well.

    As Brian B mentioned, there is some randomization going on with the waves (I believe the wave progressions themselves to be set, but which progression you get is a coin toss). Some are certainly more challenging than others, but I think a lot of that is each progression needs to be matched with a different approach (weapons, stats, play style, and level selection).

    A word on unlocks: I think unlocks are a way to add replay value to a game. None of the unlocks are required to win the game; they sure do help, and it’s a fun reward to keep you coming back.

    Anyway! You may find that playing some Geometry Wars 2 will assist in your skills at ZE2. I hope you’re able to find more enjoyment out of the game, but I certainly understand it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

    Thanks for reviewing this game and getting it a bit more publicity.

  13. meoldbones says:

    Playing both Zombie Estate 1 and 2, I think I can safely say you would have preferred the first one. It actually spawns the correct amount of zombies, as in if you have three left to kill, there’s three left on the map. It’s also easier, but can get boring quick.

    For help with the second, do not play solo. I repeat, do not play solo. It is less fun and much harder.

    Now that that’s out of the way, you or one of your friends should work up enough Z points to unlock the character “Doc.” At this point, you have already won. Doc’s starting weapon, The Needle Gun, has unlimited ammo and HEALS teammates. Fully upgraded, it heals 60 health per shot. This added with the fact that you can bounce it off walls and heal yourself makes it extremely OP.

    But it doesn’t just heal 60 health. It also heals it over time, it giving 20 health per second for three seconds. If you shoot your buddy right before they run through a horde of zombies they will come out just fine. Even if they lose 30 health a second, they’ll come out just a little under even.

    With two people and me as Doc, I practically carried us to wave 10 on endless. Once I bought the healing totems and my friend got some turrets, we had no trouble until wave 42 where we quit on purpose because it was getting late and we saw no end in sight.

    • meoldbones says:

      I should mention that we didn’t JUST have totems and turrets; the mini bomb is extremely powerful, as is the card-shuffler and the Frost Arrow. I recommend only one weapon of each ammo type per player, so you don’t use up ammo for one weapon by using another.

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