Zombie Driver (PC)

The Zombie Apocalypse has taken place in pretty much every form so far in gaming form. We may now have an example in every genre with the release of Zombie Driver.

My vehicular mayhem is details in my SquareGo review.  Text below cut

Zombie Driver

3/5

Zombie Driver

The beginning is one of the most important factors in scene setting and tone of a game. A stylish intro sequence can draw a player in and give motivation to their endeavours, whereas a poor beginning can ruin all interest in an otherwise decent title.

The opening sequence in Zombie Driver however, manages to do something quite different. It’s wistfully constructed using a bleakly sketched motion comic style, with enough spattering effects to make you wonder if Ralph Steadman was somehow involved from beyond the grave. Albeit the same style that was put to great effect with inFamous, the stark and mostly colourless style bizarrely harks back to the soulful opening of Flower. Curious choice for a game which then gleefully encourages the urgent meeting of animated corpses and car-bumpers. However, it also belies a slightly derivative side of the game that is present throughout.

The game proper is a top-down affair with a birds-eye viewpoint, the player cast in the guise of an unfortunate Taxi Driver who is roped into helping out when the Military and Government have abandoned the survivors of the catastrophe. As such, it’s up to you to zip your little yellow cab around the abandoned and ghoul-filled streets of the city; mowing down swathes of the undead on your way from one objective to the next. Along the way there are several unlockable vehicles and the ability to ramp up the weapons, armour and torque between missions, depending on how much cash has been earned or found. As the game progresses, the player moves through the city from one stronghold to another, liberating plot specific survivors in the quest to escape.

It’s very much a title that harks back to the classic days of PC gaming, and visually, there are easy comparisons to make with the early GTA titles. However, there is far less variety and scope than those games. In fact, the biggest flaw with Zombie Driver is the fairly short duration of the single player campaign. There are only 17 missions, which can easily be burned through in a few hours of play. Considering the length and breadth of the city, the missions don’t really make enough use of the massive, completely open layout of the city. What’s more, the lack of an on-screen mini-map, or even an in-game map accessible mid-mission, prevents any tactical use of the terrain; which is a fairly major omission in a game of this type. Instead, there are only the vague waypoints on the edge of screen, indicating how far away the objectives lie.

That’s not to say there isn’t lots to enjoy here. The game engine is a thing of beauty; cars and buildings a-shimmering with detail. The zombie hordes are detailed enough to distinguish individual enemy types, from charging bulls to giant berzerkers and huge Left 4 Dead alike exploding bloaters. There’s no end of the fun to be had as streets of undead are powered under the wheels with a wonderfully satisfying crunch, or mown down with machine-guns, flamethrowers or even railguns. Better still is the stand alone Slaughter mode. A simple but effortlessly enjoyable mode where you pick an unlocked car, weapons and a small contained map and lay waste to hordes of zombies in the sort of vehicular zombie-slaughter that hasn’t been seen this side of Crackdown 2.

For the relatively low cost, Zombie Driver has an awful lot going for it. It also has a lot of potential for continued play, as the concept and gameplay are sound enough to warrant a bigger budget and a longer, more involved game.

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