Zombie Driver HD was developed by EXOR Studios and published by Cyberfront Corporation. It was released on October 17, 2012 for 800 MSP. A copy was provided for review purposes.
Have you ever watched a zombie movie and silently pondered the cathartic value of a vehicle? Zombies are scary up close, but get inside an armored sports car and suddenly survival doesn’t seem so impossible. Then, imagine what you could do with automatic weapons strapped to the side, a flamethrower at the front, and rocket thrusters in the back. This is the prospect behind Zombie Driver HD–pick your vehicle, load it with heavy weapons, and blaze a bloody trail of carnage through the forest of undead. It’s the zombie apocalypse, and you are the only person daring enough to take on the horde in whatever vehicles you can find.
Here’s what we liked:
Paint it red – Zombies gather in huddled groups, which is the perfect opportunity to mow down as many as possible with a car. With some practice, you can learn to power-slide sideways to knock over an entire mob as if you were 10-pin bowling with a log. Each hit slaps a fresh coat of red paint on your car and bloody streaks across the ground. For most of the game this is your primary method for killing zombies, and you get rewarded with points and cash for the more you kill in succession (especially if you are drifting). Racking up the kills in a sporty red limousine that used to be white is a definite highlight of the game.
Vehicles – Story missions unlock different vehicles that handle in different ways. You start with a simple taxi and work up to a sports car, ambulance, bus, etc. Each car has different capabilities in speed, armor, ramming power, and passenger capacity. For example, a sports car will get you where you need to go quickly, but if you need to rescue a large group of survivors, you’re better off taking the bus. When you need to face extra zombies, the tough ambulance or police car will take more abuse. Occasionally you will get a special vehicle specific to a mission, such as a tank or bulldozer. These heavy hitters lay waste to the horde and offer a welcome variety. As you continue through the story, you can upgrade the vehicles to be faster and tougher.
Here’s what we didn’t like:
Graphical glitches – Constant screen tearing horribly distorts your view, especially when driving at high speeds through the city. Since the game is all about driving through the city, the flickering never goes away and is extremely distracting. At its worst, the road will magically appear out of a blue void. The Xbox 360 has been out for seven years, so there is no excuse for these problems to exist in a finished game to purchase. Hopefully this will be patched later on.
Frustrating mechanics – Zombie-killing feels like a chore. The story campaign consists entirely of driving from place to place to wipe an area of zombies. This forces you to drive back and forth across the same area to smash every last speck of monster. Meanwhile, with each pass to the other side, more zombies from outside the area continue to spawn and walk in. Just when you thought you had the last zombie killed, 3 more arrive from separate corners and you’re back to frantically sliding everywhere to hit them. To make matters worse, your weapons are anchored to aim straight ahead rather than the usual twin-stick shooter style. The only way to aim your guns side to side is to drive forward or backward while turning, which is excruciatingly slow when you have zombies banging down your doors. That, and you’ll constantly need to pick up ammo and health in obscure places to keep the fight going. This design forces you to slowly tiptoe around fences and buildings when you should be cruising through the streets.
Lack of polish – Alongside the problems with graphics and gameplay, Zombie Driver HD skips a few gaming essentials that are required to make the experience cohesive. The story is merely a backdrop to the action, and yet you cannot skip dialogue during missions. Missions have no checkpoints, so if you unexpectedly die towards the end of the mission, you will have to repeat those last ten minutes. The upgrade screen is extremely confusing to navigate despite its simple appearance because your selective cursor does not go where you expect. These are simple standards that must be met to make a game more enjoyable.
Zombie Driver HD is a fun concept taken in the wrong direction. What should be a field day for all the lead-footed road ragers instead feels like a lead-footed game of soccer. The game occasionally has its moments of gory glory, but with obnoxious technical issues and poor presentation, you’re better off playing one of the other million zombie-killing games out there.
Score: Skip it