Game Reviews

Samurai vs Zombies Defense 2

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| Samurai vs Zombies Defense 2
Samurai vs Zombies Defense 2

The history books are curiously silent on the epic battles between samurai warriors and the forces of the undead, so it's a good thing we have Glu's series to fill in those brain-munched gaps in our knowledge.

The first Samurai vs Zombies Defense earned a solid Bronze Award from us just over a year ago and, while a lot of what made that katana-happy title a hit slices its way into the sequel, the only real innovation seems to be in the sharper, tablet-friendly graphics.

Admittedly, you now get to play as multiple heroes, but the most significant difference is the more punishing difficulty curve, which will strike down veterans and beginners alike.

A dash of brains

Like the original game, Glu Mobile's sequel is a side-scrolling action / defence hybrid in the vein of ye olde Flash series Cartoon Wars.

Your warrior is in charge of defending his home village and can either advance to the right, where waves of enemies spawn from, or retreat to the left. Firing, either using a ranged bow or an up-close-and-personal katana, is automatic - leaving you free to focus on summoning allies to help you win each scrap.

New pals are unlocked as you progress and each has its own skills and weaknesses. For instance, Shield Samurai are good at holding back baddies, which encourages you to think tactically about what support you need to take down the various enemies.

Standard zombies just need to be brutally bludgeoned, while flying baddies need taller warriors - like the Stilt Walkers - to keep them at bay.

Each can be selected with simple tap icons, and - although the action can get hectic later on - combat is a straightforward affair made more rewarding by the lavish animations and rather lush feudal Japanese scenery.

You don't have to just stick with the dull old Samurai, either, as there's also the fast yet vulnerable Kunoichi Assassin, and the sluggish but tough-as-old-boots Armored Ronin to unlock and battle with.

All of them have unique upgradeable weapons and magical abilities to splash in-game cash on between waves, so prepare to spend a lot of time agonising over what deadly accessory to equip next.

No matter how much you fiddle, though, the game is eventually going to give you a clobbering that only a dip into your real wallet will get you out of.

The price of victory

As with all of Glu's freemium titles, in-app purchases are pretty pricey and will deter many players from sticking with the game once the first big boss or difficulty spike arrives and suddenly stomps you repeatedly into the ground.

Yes, you can earn a fair bit of cash to upgrade from grinding through completed stages (always a bland pleasure) and taking part in multiplayer skirmishes against random online foes to earn extra rewards, but extra Revives to help you snatch victory from the jaws of defeat are few and far between.

This makes Samurai vs Zombie Defense 2 a rather smart-looking yet rather short-lived scrapper that offers little over its more generous predecessor.

Samurai vs Zombies Defense 2

One of the sharpest-looking action defence games we've played is let down by steep difficulty and steeper freemium costs
Paul Devlin
Paul Devlin
A newspaper reporter turned games journo, Paul's first ever console was an original white Game Boy (still in working order, albeit with a yellowing tinge and 30 second battery life). Now he writes about Android with a style positively dripping in Honeycomb, stuffed with Gingerbread and coated with Froyo