Sharpen your swords and get ready to rumble with the undead.
In contrast to its rather convoluted title, Samurai vs Zombies Defense 2 is a remarkably simple combat game when you first start playing it. Set in a series of 2D landscapes, your task is to guide a heroic samurai back and forth as he or she does battle against a horrible invading force of the undead. Let the zombies reach your starting point, and they'll rip your defensive gate apart and send you back to the menu screen.
It's only really when you peer beyond the surface of the game that its real charms become apparent, however. The early waves lean very heavily on your character's auto-attacks - stop them in front of a zombie, and they'll automatically hack away, leaving you to simply play a game of cat-and-mouse as you push them close enough to attack, then dart away from the opponent's counter-attack.
Soon enough though, you're taking charge of some very special abilities that change the tide of battle. Your starting character has a vicious cleave that's on a cooldown, but can do massive and satisfying damage. You'll also have use of a lightning strike that delivers a decent chunk of damage to a number of enemies at once.
And then you get to switch characters as you progress through the game's single-player campaign. Your all-rounder starting character can be swapped out for a female ninja who specializes in fast and fancy footwork, as well as some vicious dagger attacks. Later still, you'll get to take charge of a lumbering warrior who might be slow on his feet, but can slice through whole packs of enemies with devastating force.
In addition to managing your main character, you also get to call in special reinforcements who spawn at your starting gate and wander towards the enemies. You acquire a sort of energy over time as you play the game, and the most powerful allies cost the highest amounts of this currency. You'll have to experiment with the best strategy for each level accordingly.
Each character has its own upgrade line too, so as you earn coins through kills you can make their individual special attacks more powerful, or just give them a little extra health so they survive for longer on the battlefield. You'll even unlock new abilities altogether, allowing you to customize combat even further. It's a great way of adding longevity to the game, as well as keeping you hooked in for just one more go.
If you tire of the wave-based single-player campaign, you can head into a multiplayer mode to steal artifacts from other players and complete collections of objects. Each player is assigned a power rating based on their performance in the story mode, and once you've selected the object you wish to fight for, you choose which players to attack based on their own rating. You'll then head into a special version of the typical gameplay, where you have a fixed amount of time to assault the player and destroy their starting gate.
There are a few things we'd like to have seen improved upon in Samurai vs Zombies Defense 2. Before you start each match, you'll have to select your character, the special "charms" that provide a bonus on the battlefield, their special powers and so on. It would have been nice to be able to store a loadout for each character, rather than going through this fiddly process before every round, and we hope an update can remedy this.
Those with a particularly strong dislike of in-app purchases may also find this aspect of the game a little off-putting. There's a whole bunch of currencies to work with, some very expensive premium characters, and the challenge soon ramps up to a point where you may feel you need a little spare cash to throw at the game. There's more than enough to be enjoyed for free though, so don't let it put you off too much.
Despite a handful of reservations, this is still a fantastic free title from Glu Games, and we'd encourage everyone to at least try the action out for themselves. How long you spend with the game will be a question of personal preference, but we think everyone will get a kick from this surprisingly strategic sequel for at least a while.
What's Hot:A surprisingly strategic 2D action game, packed full of plenty of delicious upgrades.
What's Not:Once you've played a dozen waves, you've enjoyed most of what the game has to offer.