Zombie Driver HD XBLA Review



Zombies have infected a town and the military are under strict orders not to engage to lose any more men.  You, being stranded in the city, must now help to halt the zombie apocalypse.

Zombie Driver HD is the bigger and better version of Exor Studio's "Zombie Driver" which debuted on PC in 2009.  It features more levels, which means more mayhem, and to top all of this off it is now presented in High Definition.

I man up and get behind the wheel of various vehicles in an attempt to help rid a city of its zombie infested population.  Come with me as I review and tell you all you need to now about Zombie Driver HD by Exor Studios for Xbox Live Arcade!


Getting Started




First things first.  When you head over to the Xbox Live Arcade Marketplace you will look for the download for Zombie Driver HD, which honestly has some pretty cool looking art (Which is pictured as the feature image you see above).  Once you go and select your download of Zombie Driver HD, you are looking at a cost of 800 Microsoft Points and a whopping 923.96 MB download, pretty big.  Once finished I opened up the game and was ready to see what was waiting for me.

Upon coming to the "Press Start" screen, I noticed that this game does not have any opening sequences or animation like a lot of games do (I reviewed Happy Wars previously and it did not have one either, maybe it is just a trend for Xbox Live Arcade Games, but not going to lie, I was spoiled after Hard Corps: Uprising).

However, in order to make up for no opening animation, Zombie Driver HD does have a pretty awesome main menu.  When looking on this main menu you can expect to see the three game modes that are available: Story Mode, Blood Race, and Slaughter; all of which I will be covering later.  You will also see additional options for Leaderboards, Achievements, Help & Options, Download Content, and Exit Game.  Again, I plan on going through and covering all of this in later sections of the review.

Well, with all of this in mind and having my pad and paper ready, I am ready to officially start my review for Zombie Driver HD, starting off first with its Story Mode.


Story Mode Synopsis & Impressions


This same taxi is the car you start in, but without any of the suped up customizations.
You will first see the game start off with a still-picture like image, then an explosion at a plant of some sort that releases a deadly chemical (At least that is what I inferred from seeing some people walking around in Hazmat suits).  You see your person managing to get into a taxi when out of nowhere some army guy contacts him and tells you that they are prohibited from entering the city of zombies due to a government mandate for them to stand down.  He then says he will not let you leave the city because of the mandate, but tasks you with saving the mayor and rescuing anyone who is survived within the area.  You eventually save the mayor by running over who is grateful and wants to give you a bonus for every zombie you kill (Money) and you finally get upgrades for your car which features a machine gun.  The army guy is surprised that you made it out alive and wants to further give you upgrades to your car if you continue to do well and help the survivors while simultanenously wiping out the zombie plague.

You will be given various missions throughout the campaign which spans 31 missions long.  At the end of each mission you will receive cash, cars, and the option of customizing your car before the next mission.  When customizing your car you will be able to do two types of upgrade:  Car upgrades (Such as better armor) and Weapon upgrades (Such as a bigger ammo capacity), each with three levels of proficiency which adds to the power of items you pick up.  What I mean    about item pick ups if that you have different weapons which become available to our car: Machine Guns, Flame Throwers, Rail Guns, and more.  These upgrades will be mandatory because you will have to rescue various survivors, secure safe locations, wipe out zombies and their lairs, and battle bosses whom are grotesque abominations mutated by the same thing that produced the zombies.  You will continue to help the military, flush out survivors, and complete the mission in order to earn your way back out of the city by eliminating every last one of the walking dead.

All right.  First off, I believe that the whole premise of this game is pretty nonsensical and downright stupid.  I can understand you wanting to get out of the city and being motivated by money; but why would you help the army who cannot go in nor will actually let you leave?  You would think if they are tasking you to do all of this they would have some faith in you if they are steadily giving you upgrades for your car and also allowing you to save an important person like the Mayor?  I think they may have did the best they could to setup a scenario for the type of game they were aiming for, but it cannot help me to think that this has an extremely small chance of actually happening in real life and it is a stretch for even video game logic.  Also, something which shocked me is that they have helicopters with plenty of ammunition, why do they not lay waste to the helpless zombies that are grounded and unable to reach him?  Why not destroy those bosses with those missiles and Vulcan Cannons they are known to have?  I am sorry but I cannot find a way to reasonable think it had a solid foundation which keeps me from taking the story seriously.  Not to mention your character jumped into the first available car, how is there a working radio in there and how does he instantly know the frequency?

Something else I would like to mention is the voice acting; You will get ready to start a mission and the narrative military commander will say something for you to accomplish and often times it does sound very cheesy like a badly scripted B-Movie; in fact, the dialogue in this game is completely horrible to me and they should have stuck with just text chat in order to make it more tolerable.  You have some survivors that actually joke with you before they run into the car, which makes me wonder how you would be able to joke when people are being killed all around you and just a second ago you were fearing for your own life.

Next off is the game play of the story itself, which I find to be painstakingly repetitive.  You will find yourself doing the same old things time-and-time again only at a different location or a slightly different way of achieving that goal, for example: One mission you had to clear out all the zombies from hurting the mayor, the other time you had to wipe out all the zombies in the area but destroy the lair that the zombies were coming out of (Which strangely looked like a house and not some weird mutated thing, so how a house was making zombies is beyond me).  The normal zombies actually do not bother you much because of the boost mechanic which they gave you (That is helpful because it replenishes on its own), the only problem is dealing with the zombies that emit a green gas because they explode upon impact and deal a massive amount of damage to your car; this is only annoying because of the speed you are normally moving and the rate at which your car stops makes it hard to avoid them sometimes; also, the amount of zombies on screen sometimes makes them hard to see but it adds to the difficulty factor and keeps the game from being entirely too easy because of infinite spawns of health and weapons that re-appear after a certain amount of time.  It can be rather satisfying to scorch zombies with the flamethrower and mowing them down with boost, but there is nothing else in terms of game play here.

Something I do at least have to say is pretty awesome are the effects given and the environments which are surprisingly well done.  Not only that but the city that you fight in seems vast and you get a small expansion of that during Mission Briefing 06 when you have to secure an area for the new facility.  All-in-all, the graphics are nice but too bad the story was not good enough to take advantage of the scenery.


Blood Race



This mode basically consists around racing as the name implies.  However within this mode is a choice of either a Single Race or New Tournament, and you also have various different modes within each of the categories: Race, Eliminator, and Endurance.  Each of these racing types are included in the difference tournaments that are labeled as Beginner's Tournament, Rookie's Tournament, Driver's Tournament, Pro Racer Tournament, and Zombie Driver's Tournament with the next tournament in line only being playable after at least achieving a bronze in the previous.

Allow me to know elaborate on the types, starting with Race.  Race is simply just a race around the track containing multiple laps, the first one to cross the finish line on the last lap is the winner.  You can pick up weapons and items to destroy your opponents cars so you can inch your way to 1st.  Eliminator is a time limited event where the person who destroys the most opponents vehicles wins.  Endurance is an event where a time limit counts down and is run in a time trial like state where you are the only one on the track but you are racing against other A.I. opponents who you cannot see.  You have to reach checkpoints to extend the time to keep the bomb in your car from exploding, the last one alive wins.

Next off, let me explain the events present in each Single Race and New Tournament.  First off, every single game type, Race, Eliminator, and Endurance, are game types within Single Race or Endurance.  Events are races present within a single tournament that differ in their type, also, as you progress through the tournaments the events in the series grows by 1 (Beginner's Tournament has 4 Events, Rookie's Tournament has 5 events, Driver's Tournaments has 6 events, etc).  Single Race is just one of the Events in the tournament series that you would want to race a single time and determine a medal (Bronze, Silver, or Gold), where as a Tournament Series is all the races within a single Tournament that averages up your placing for a Bronze, Silver, or Gold medal.

I will say that race is pretty fun and should have been the highlight of this game instead of the campaign; if they would have made something similar to the Burnout Series with weapons this game would have completely shined.  However, that is the only mode I feel is good in "Blood Race".  I think Eliminator was done poorly because you have to tag behind in order to get the kills, if you are the person out in the front you are the most likely to get destroyed and therefore will break purposely.  On the other hand, in Endurance if all people are really fast on the track it could take a significant amount of time for anyone to die as long as they do not make a mistake, which is terrible.  If you ask me they should have did a combination of Endurance and Eliminator; making it where the last person around a lap is destroyed and you are able to destroy your opponent's vehicles in the process; people do not want to be in last place to destroy the car ahead of them because then they will be in last place, and if everyone drives equally weapons even it out.

Overall I think this is probably the most exciting mode in the entire game from having neck-n-neck racing action mixed with chaotic explosions and cool effects going everywhere.  However, even then that could not save this mode from its obvious downfalls and it is still the best mode and that is not saying very much.


Slaughter


Slaughter is a mode that is more-or-less the "Survival Mode" in the game.  You are placed on a map in which you must confront endless waves of zombies, earning a power-up between each time you successfully survive a wave in the form of a Weapon or Vehicle upgrade.  You will find more and more enemies coming at you and you will have to continuously kill them off and make your way around the course in order for them not to gang up on you in one spot; surviving as long as possible to achieve a Gold Medal is your main objective in this mode.  You have to get at least a Bronze Medal to unlock the next stage you can play on, and there are 6 unlockable stages in total.

Something I liked about this mode is that they give you progressive upgrades in order to help you out; however, I hated the fact that they did not halt the zombies in between waves and give you time to get ready for the next one (Kind of like how Gears of War does it).  Also, the fact that you get unlimited weapons and health items will make you have to drive in a specific pattern to continually pick them up as soon as they respawn in order to make a Gold Medal run; playing this way is optimal but it completely kills the fun factor of this mode because in the end that is what it will boil down to.

These are the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Medals

The Verdict


Despite the best efforts of going "above-and-beyond" with Zombie Driver HD, I think that Exor Studios fell short of making it a great game and could have bore to have made it at least somewhat enjoyable.  The effects and the scenery are all nice and would make a great game if only the story and other modes could take advantage of this things.  Something else that could have also saved this game was online mode but not having that completely desecrates any hope for a recommendation to buy this game.  So with that I will have to say that it is probably better for you to avoid buying Zombie Driver HD because it is not worth the 800 Microsoft Points and the nearly 1 GB of space on your Hard Drive.

Thank you for reading my review of Zombie Driver HD by Exor Studios.  Arigatou & Sayonara!


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