Saturday, December 29, 2012

Zombie Driver HD (PSN) Review

Zombie Driver HD is an upgraded version of a two year old game from Exor Studios.  Players control a driver that is being tasked with rescuing civilians and fixing other problems in a town overrun with zombies.  The military might not be much help, but at least they are footing the bill.  So let's look at the PS3 version of:

Zombie Driver HD has a pulled back, isometric view so you can see lots of action around you.  There is good detail in the environment, even though it is really small.  I think my favorite part of the graphics are when the levels take place at night.  You only get the ambient light of civilization (streetlights, houses, etc.) and the headlights of the car.  Things look really smooth, although sometimes when I'm driving and turning quickly in the game, it's hard to focus on it.  This of course, could be my terrible eyesight and not a problem with the game.

The music has what you would expect, a few creepy tracks and some fast paced ones when the action ramps up.  They fill the role they need to.  There's a fair amount of voices in the story mode.  They aren't that great, and most can't be skipped.  I'm not even advocated skipping them to not listen to them.  I read faster than people talk, so I can finish reading the text and then have to sit there while they finish talking.  You can skip the mission briefings, but not the in-mission jibba-jabber.

Controlling the car is simple in Zombie Driver HD.  Accelerating, shooting and backing up perform well, but the car turns really quickly while backing up.  This makes it easier to do a 180, but usually the turning was too sensitive for me while in reverse.  It's not a deal breaker, but it did bother me.  It can be hard to make some of the tight turns with the faster cars, and I couldn't quite get the hang of decelerating enough to turn and keep some speed.  Also, the handbrake doesn't seem to help much when driving forward.  When going in reverse, it behaves how I feel it should, but I swear it doesn't even work when I try it while having forward momentum.  To be clear, I'm not accelerating while trying it, but it doesn't seem to stop me at all.

You can get four different kinds of frontal weapons.  Each seems really good at one or two functions, but not so hot at others, making them pretty balanced.  Machine guns were good in the Blood Races, as was the flamethrower.  I can't hit the broad side of the competition with the rockets, though.  However, those same rockets are great at destroying the zombie hives, which take way too long with the flamethrower.  The rail gun amassed a ton of kills in the slaughter mode, but only when fully upgraded.  I actually like that the weapon you should use is different depending on what you need to do.  There's also a handy nitro boost, that can kill enemies behind the car too.  I'm not sure why there are nitro pick-ups in the story mode, since the nitro refills over time.  They aren't really hanging around in convenient locations to refill it instantly, either.

The story mode has 31 levels.  Most only last a few minutes, but they are really good for pick up and play.  There's a decent variety, too.  I personally like the missions where you can drive a special vehicle like an army tank and a bulldozer.  There's even a few bosses throw in for good measure and secondary objectives for each stage.  If you wan to take a break from killing zombies, you can participate in some tournaments that have different events.  Sometimes you race other cars, sometimes you kill them, but they all provide a good break from story mode.  Admittedly, I don't score as well on these as I'd like.  Tricky turns trip me up in races, and sometimes I'm just not close enough to rivals in Eliminator (or they steal my kills, the jerks!) to survive for long.  They are still fun, but not as much fun as Slaughter.

Slaughter is the game's survival mode, and it's pretty fun.  You have to survive waves to get weapons and upgrades, so the first wave is just driving over zombies until you get a weapon the next wave.  I like it, but there isn't much reason to play it again, once you have all the gold medals.  I think it would be fun to have co-op slaughter maps (with no trophies for them, though) if I had a friend or two to play with.

There isn't any kind of multiplayer in Zombie Driver HD, which is fine with me.  The only real online is the leaderboards, on which I was usually in the top 10 for slaughter, even snagging the top spot on one of them at one point.  It seems silly to mention it, but it's the first time I've been that high on a leaderboard, so I'm happy about it.  I won't be up there forever, but it was an honor just to be nominated.

The trophies are a good mix from all the modes.  Several are obtained by making your way through the story mode and unlocking the different cars.  You get some for doing the tournaments and for getting gold medals in the Slaughter mode.  It will take some playing to get them all, since you have to get all golds in Slaughter and Blood Race, and complete all 31 story levels.

I will mention a bug I experienced while playing.  When I tried my first mission using the muscle car, I had no HUD.  So, I had no idea how far the objectives were from each other, no minimap and no health bar.  I actually finished the mission, but it wasn't fun.  Quitting to the XMB and loading the game again fixed it.  This only happened once, but I thought I would note it.  And while not really a bug, per se, occasionally I've gotten the car stuck.  You can hold the select button to respawn, but it takes several crucial seconds, meaning you will lose the race or possibly get killed while you sit there.

I always have fun driving over things in video games.  Bandits, animals,'s all fun.  Yeah, there's probably something wrong with me, but my driving record is sparkly, so we'll let it slide.  The game doesn't stray much from its core concept of driving over zombies, even with the occasional race in the tournament mode.  If you like driving over people or shooting hordes of zombies from the relative safety of a car, then try out Zombie Driver HD.  It's not the most original game, but it has lots of 'pick up and play for a bit' fun.

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