Review: Zombie Driver HD

ZombieDriverHD

If the zombie apocalypse ever really does come to pass—and given how many movies, TV shows and video games now feature them, doesn’t it sorta feel like it already has?—one thing seems certain. No mere vehicle is going to save anyone’s bacon. Sure, you might feel a temporary sense of invulnerability camped in your school bus or tricked-out SUV, but eventually, you’re going to spin out, crash and be overwhelmed by the gray, gibbering masses.

But, hey, at least you’ll go down swinging in style, right?

And, in EXOR Studios’ Zombie Driver HD, you’ll go down with several miles of zombie entrails attached to your front bumper. This high-def console port of a game that’s been available on PC since 2009 is great for short bursts of adrenaline gore, but lacks the features and depth to race to the front of the shambling zombie-game horde.

The U.S. Army turns to you to plow through the zombie-infested streets from a top-down perspective, pancaking as many of the munchers as possible en route to saving and protecting the terrified citizenry. Armed with your surprisingly durable yellow taxi and a set of upgradable weapons that range from machine guns to flamethrowers, you’ll blast gigantic mutated beasts, save a one percenter and his stretch limousine from bloody demise and endure some of the most somnambulant voice-acting in the history of gaming.

The 31 campaign missions are truly bite-sized, brief tasks that fly by in the space of about six minutes or less, even if you don’t manage to ace the mission level timer. Gameplay feels reminiscent of SEGA’s Renegade Ops, only without the airborne missions to break up the routine. It’s satisfying, in small bursts, to make the streets run red with zombie blood, sometimes taking out 30-plus undead with a well-placed spin turn and gun burst combo, amping your level bonus and upgrade prospects in the process. What’s less satisfying is the knowledge that every hit you take, whether it’s a zombie carcass slipping beneath your wheels or that lamppost/parked car/wooden fence you just dinged, has brought you and your car that much closer to death.

It doesn’t take long for the odds to shift in favor of the undead—in fact, it happens by the third mission, which features the debut of the first boss beast. Survival requires getting a solid handle on your surroundings, because the dearth of health packs will necessitate driving far afield of your mission target to recharge and wade back into the fray. And if another horde of angry zombies wanders into your path en route, well, quell d’ommage. Remember: No mere vehicle, not even one with a flamethrower on the hood, is going to save anyone’s bacon.

The campaign’s only part of the bloody mix here. Other attractions include an entertaining Slaughter mode that finds you barreling through increasingly larger and deadlier waves of zombies, and Blood Race, in which you’ll take on AI drivers, racing down sets of mean, zombified streets. One rather sizable problem, however: There’s zero support for multiplayer, local or otherwise. Guess the zombies must have eaten off that limb at some point in the development process. Too bad, because true multiplayer could have elevated Zombie Driver from good to great.

As it stands, this is a gorefest that’ll entertain briefly, but probably won’t tarry long in your most-played list. The easily unsettled should also know that the PC-to-console port-process seems to have left a handful of camera perspective issues—expect to battle a few waves of nausea and vertigo during high-speed spins and turns. Dodge the zombie dogs and pass the Dramamine.

TryIt

Pros:
+ Short bursts of zombie-crushing fun
+ Slaughter mode’s a blast

Cons:
– Camera angles/perspective leads to vertigo, nausea
– No multiplayer? Ouch.

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on Xbox Live Arcade, also available on Steam and coming soon to PSN
Publisher: EXOR Studios
Developer: EXOR Studios
Release Date: 10/17/2012
Genre: Action
ESRB Rating: Mature
Players: 1
Source: Review copy provided by developer

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About the Author

Aaron R. Conklin has been writing about games and games culture for more than 15 years. A former contributor to Computer Games Magazine and Massive Magazine, his writing has appeared on IGN.com and in newspapers and alt-weeklies across the country. Conklin's an unapologetic Minnesota sports fan living in Madison, Wisconsin, home of the Midwest's most underrated gaming vibe.