A RTS zombie survival game where medieval, steampunk and modern elements blend together to create a unique gaming experience.
Get right into it.
Normally I’m very adamant about playing RTS games on consoles since I find them to be a heinous crime towards the gaming industry.
As such, the review itself is about the game itself, and how I would imagine it if I were to play it with a good old mouse and keyboard.
One of the things I didn’t like about the game was the complete lack of anything that could remotely be described as a Tutorial.
When you enter the main menu, all you have to select are either the option to start a new mission, join a weekly Campaign, or to search through the game settings.
Of course, I’ve been playing RTS games since before I could walk, so getting the hang of it was not all bad.
Then again if They are Billions would have had any particular mechanics I should have been aware of (and there were plenty of them), maybe it would have been a good idea for the game to teach me about them.
You start off small, but then you grow
They are Billions doesn’t have any story (or at least, the console version doesn’t, or even a campaign) which would help you understand just what exactly is going on.
Admittedly, when you start off with a base with just a handful of people and you realize that the map is filled with zombies, you realize that your job is to keep your people safe, story or no story.
Because the game doesn’t have a story, there’s nothing to tie you to a certain mission or objective, other than to just survive.
The game features the common tropes found in all old school RTS titles, such as population management, and resource gathering.
You need population to supply you with workers, workers need food and protection, advanced protective facilities require more exotic resources and the list goes on and on.
One of the most frustrating aspect about the game is that it is so damn complex, and despite starting off with just a central building and a few people, you end up with a mini metropolis of New York-ish proportions.
In fact, the things you’ll be wasting most of your money on will be the placement of walls and defense towers, since your settlement will outgrow them by the hour.
You’ve got mouths to feed and people to protect
There isn’t any bad guy’s central base, or spawning pool, of hive.
Zombies (a.k.a. “the Infected”) are just pretty much swarming around the map, and they will eventually come in wave from outside of it as well, just so they can sink their rotten flesh-craving teeth into your delicate population’s tender areas.
These zombies aren’t just your typical slow walkers that made Romero famous.
You also have big hulking zombies that look and hit like trucks, you have zombies that vomit poison (or acid, I don’t know exactly, but it was green) called Venoms, and you also have wild zombies that run like a cheetah and hit like crazy (Harpies).
Truth be told, the zombie hordes are pretty impressive, and the fact that they can tear down buildings fairly easily makes them even more scary.
Of course, you are not just a simple and helpless civilization, as you too know how to shoot things until they are dead (well …”deader”).
You need scouts that silently kill with arrows? How about soldiers with machine guns? If that doesn’t do the trick, then maybe you can bring out the big guns and just go on a rampage using some Thanatos or some Lucifers.
Winter is coming
While no actual winter is coming, the zombies sure are. If you’re playing your first games, you might end up fooled by the fact that initial zombie waves can be repelled using just the soldier you start off with.
That is pretty much the biggest mistake you can make, since the 6 infected that came in your first wave are nothing to the hordes of hundreds that come, half of which are actually special infected.
In fact, if you think of yourself as the ultimate survivor and want to try some hard mode, you should know that choosing higher difficulty games will also unlock some additional infected, so arm yourself appropriately.
Use every spare second you have within the game to make the base bigger and bigger, while raising an army and building defensive structure that would make the Great Wall of China look like a sand castle.
Playing on a PS4
The first thing that struck me when trying to play the game on my PS4 was the clumsiness of the controls.
How in the world could anyone efficiently control the on-screen cursor using a joystick is beyond me.
Of course, you could always use hotkeys to quickly select whatever it is you want, but if you’re a beginner, going from clunky joystick controls to using hotkeys the way professional Starcraft players do is quite a steep curve.
All in all, controlling the game was probably the most challenging aspect of the game, much more than any Infected threat may ever pose.
More so, The PS4 version doesn’t have the Campaign mode available, do you don’t have that going for you, which isn’t nice.
- The graphics
- Great unit diversity
- Sense of dread ramps up with every wave
- Plenty of buildings to try
- Unit quotes that pay homage to great RTS titles form the past
- Great discrepancy between lower and higher-tier units
- The god-awful clumsiness of the controls
The zombie waves and the gameplay in general are extremely engaging, and combat can keep you on the edge of your seat at times, especially when you underestimate enemy forces.
All in all, They are Billions is a game that definitely deserves praise, but playing it with anything other than a mouse and keyboard can be literally gamer’s Hell.