First thing’s first: you’re not a Zombie, you’re a driver. There are Zombies though. Millions and millions of them out there on the open roads just waiting to be steamrolled into oblivion. On the outset this could prove to be a nice slice of budget hyperviolence. Zombies? Cars? Zombies being run over by cars? What’s could possibly go wrong?
Zombie Driver takes an old school top-down original GTA style perspective on the Zombie apocalypse. Your aim in a given mission is to get to several locations, clear them of the Zombie menace, rescue the survivors before they are devoured and get back to base in time for tea. This is mostly achieved driving very fast over the undead hordes until you’ve ground them into a low fat, spreadable paste. Then, once the survivors have vacated their cowardly hidey hole and taken refuge in your car you accelerate off into the sunset, leaving long, bloody tiretracks in your wake.
You’ve got a whole city to drive around but this isn’t exactly an open world affair. All you’ll find are Zombies and the occasional rotating power-up tucked away in a few dark alleyways. Rescuing survivors and completing missions nets you cash, and this can be used to upgrade your vehicle or buy new weapons of ultro-death, which can be mounted on the bonnet to make your vehicle even more deadly. Most missions also have a secondary optional objective that can be completed to give you extra vehicles such as Police cars or Ambulances. I ended up favouring the Limousine, partly for it’s considerable durability, but mostly for it’s cocktail-sipping smarminess. If I’m going to end the Zombie apocalypse all by myself, I’m going to do it in style.
It sounds great, doesn’t it? Crashing through the streets in a Limo with two front-mounted rocket launchers clearing the way. Initially, for the first five minutes, it’s a blast. But the novelty soon wears off and it swiftly becomes apparent that Zombie Driver is really not as fun as it should be. In a game as featureless and straightforward as this the core zombie-mashing has to be perfect. It should be fast, visceral and fun and it just isn’t.
Here’s the problem. Your only real mode of attack is to accelerate straight at the hordes. These charges inevitably end with you grinding to a halt, mired in the middle of a huge gang of undead clawing at your vehicle. Your only option is to then slowly plough over them at about five miles an hour until you’re clear of the group. After a couple of runs like this you’ll have to go look for a repair kit and then come back again to repeat the whole process. There are a few different zombie types to consider, but these do little to alter your approach.
Then there’s a couple of other niggling points. There’s no minimap, which makes trying to find health, objectives, or your base a frustrating guessing game of accidentally driving down dead ends, or spending ages trying to find the bridge you need to cross a river. The city looks nice enough, but quickly becomes samey. The missions, too are identical from level to level. Not even the selection of cars and an upgrade system can inject any life into the formula.
A bit more playtesting would have surely highlighted these issues, but as things stand I can’t recommend Zombie Driver. After about three our four missions you’ll have seen all you really need to see. Chances are you’ll never boot it up again. Even at a budget price, it’s just not worth it.