From The Walking Dead to Resident Evil to Call of Duty‘s multiplayer, there’s no denying that zombies have made their mark on gaming. Yet for all the titles that revolve around shooting them, there haven’t been many solely devoted to the idea of getting in a car and mowing hordes of the undead down with it. Zombie Driver HD is made to scratch that itch.
The setup, told through a short motion comic-styled cutscene that is free of dialogue, is simple and straightforward. Chemical experiments have caused an outbreak of the brain-eating undead. In the midst of all the mayhem, a lone survivor commandeers a taxi cab and gets in touch with the military to help quell the threat. From there, he’ll be helping out civilians, news reporters and the city’s mayor, among others.
Exposition after the opening is delivered through dialogue boxes with static portraits, complete with occasionally hammy voice acting for the supporting cast. But this isn’t a game about delivering a deep story – it’s about messing zombies up with a car. Gameplay is shown from a permanently overhead perspective reminiscent of the original Grand Theft Auto games, along with a similar mini-map system for navigation. While you’ll start out with your simple taxi at first, you’ll be able to unlock better vehicles as you progress through the main campaign.
You’ll also earn cash in each level through various methods, be it simply finishing the main goal and beating the level, accomplishing optional secondary goals such as finishing the level within a time limit, or simply taking out lots of zombies at once and building up a combo streak. You’ll have several ways to do this, the most blunt of which is the front of your car, but you’ll also be able to find machine guns, flamethrowers and rocket launchers strewn across the appropriately dirty and desolate landscapes.
Each weapon works fairly well in its own unique way, but the actual vehicle controls could have used some fine-tuning. Steering always felt a bit loose and slippery, and it never quite felt like I had complete control of the cars. It’s something that can be overcome with practice, but it’s unfortunate that it’s there in the first place.
The campaign is competently put together and offers various goals like boss fights and escort missions, but at the end of the day, it always comes down to shooting and running over zombies of various shapes and sizes. This mode isn’t bad, just unremarkable. It gets the job done, but doesn’t really leave much of an impression.
Thankfully, the developer was nice enough to include two extra modes in the form of Blood Race and Slaughter. Blood Race is exactly what it sounds like, choosing to focus on having the player beat other cars to the goal instead of fighting zombies. Slaughter is basically Horde Mode, with endless waves of zombies taking on the player, who can stay alive by finding health and weapon powerups that spawn on the playfield.
While neither of these modes set new standards for their respective genres, they are, again, competent. What helps the most is the surprising amount of content there is for each of them. Each mode has several unique unlockable maps obtained through getting medals based on your score in Slaughter and finishing first in Blood Race. While it doesn’t take incredibly long to unlock all of the maps for each mode, it does help both of them feel much more substantial than the average bonus mode.
One major downside is the lack of any real multiplayer, either online or local. This especially seems like it would have been a no-brainer for Blood Race, as it seems insane in this day and age to release a racing game with no multiplayer. What does appear is a HUD display comparing your score to anybody on your friends list who has played the map. It’s a nifty bonus, but it isn’t the same as actually playing with your friends.
Zombie Driver HD is the very definition of an average downloadable indie game. There’s little here that will truly frustrate or annoy players, but the basic gameplay is too standard and repetitive to deliver a memorable experience. It’s nice that you’re getting three unique modes with a good amount of playability in each, but you will most-likely end up wishing there was more to it all.
This review is based on an XBOX 360 copy of the game that was provided to us.