The last thing the world needs is more zombie games, but this PC port offers a new take on both the walking dead and real-time strategies.
Oh great, more zombies. Or in this case ‘The Infected’, the fallback naming convention used in games and films when their creators realise the Z-word has been overused to the point of total exhaustion. That’s what they mean though, although in this case the usual schlock surrounding outbreaks of corpse revival has been replaced by an exceptionally taught and unforgiving real-time strategy rule-set. In They Are Billions you manage and defend a colony of steampunk survivors; if your command centre gets either infected or destroyed it’s game over. To achieve your survival aims you’ll need to farm resources, build defences, train soldiers, and juggle research as you gradually expand your settlement to encompass new mineral deposits and defensible chokepoints in the terrain. The balancing act you need to refine from the first moment of each game is carving out the right ratio of workers, food, and resources. From those three branches you can add buildings, investigate fresh technology, and turn workers into soldiers to man defences or act as scouts that extend your view of the landscape by clearing away the fog of war, Command & Conquer-style. The last ingredient is electrical power, which in this case has to be extended in a power grid to supply outlying structures.
You soon discover that more advanced buildings have advantages and disadvantages, namely that their ongoing running costs are astronomically higher than their more basic counterparts. That means your relentless expansion is tempered by the need to defend your territory, so adding dozens of low cost, low value buildings produces cheap labour, energy, and materials, but also gives you a lot more to protect. And then there’s the zombie horde. Depending on the difficulty level you choose at the beginning of each round, you’ll first start by encountering pockets of the infected, comprising a mix of fast and shambling. Every few in-game days you’ll also face a wave of them coming from a single compass direction. The game does give you a small amount of notice, so that you can move defenders to that sector, and early on they’ll be fighting infected hand-to-hand. As you progress you can start to add walls, traps, towers, and finally weapons of mass destruction.
(metro.co.uk, foto: Youtube)