Exor Studios is not the most well known development studio, but this is mainly due to the outfit’s relative youth. With a handful of popular casual videogames under their belt, Zombie Driver HD is their first attempt at a console release. While it may not come from a position of experience it certainly comes from one of market appreciation: what better place for a young studio to start with the world’s most hungry gaming audience than an action-packed videogame on digital distribution channels?
Zombie Driver HD is an uncomplicated action videogame through-and-through. Taking command of a series of different vehicles from a top-down perspective the player is tasked with hitting the streets in a world where zombies rule and the only survivors are limited to hiding in backstreet shacks and military bases. Of course the latter are keen for you to go our and risk your own neck trying to save the former. In order to do so you must be able to control your vehicle under great amounts of pressure, at both high-speed and when surrounded by dozens of foes, and also utilise a number of different weapons types to cause significant damage to zombie horde numbers.
The Story Mode of Zombie Driver HD sees you playing through dozens of levels with an increasing variety of objectives. Beginning relatively casually, it’s not too long until the player is faced with giant slime beasts and overwhelming enemy numbers, multiple objectives in a single mission and unwieldy vehicle types. The challenge comes from meshing together handling and agile targeting with plenty of forethought; you only have a limited amount of health and time, and health replenishing power-ups may be a distant drive from your next objective. Players earn cash as they progress allowing them to improve unlocked vehicles both here and in other gameplay modes.
In addition to the Story Mode Zombie Driver HD offers an endurance challenge by the name of Survival Mode. Playing through a series of waves that increase in both difficulty and number, players have to ensure that they acquire the right weaponry for the task at hand: a railgun can tear through a number of foes in a straight line, but the flamethrower can deal damager to a wide arc in a short range. The Survival mode features three ranks to achieve on each of its even maps, earning players a bronze, silver or gold medal at each high score tier.
The final gameplay mode is labelled Blood Race, and offers both a series of preset tournaments and single races. A strange arrangement, the Blood Races are a welcome addition to Zombie Driver HD despite their lack of online options. In fact, Zombie Driver HD doesn’t feature any online gameplay at all, which is actually rather shocking when you consider just how suited to multiplayer gameplay it would be. Instead, Zombie Driver HD offers a reasonably comprehensive array of leaderboards so that you may compete indirectly with friends, though it must be said that this is really a lukewarm workaround rather than a welcoming alternative.
Zombie Driver HD is well designed visually, with the quality maintained throughout allowing for immediate distinction between zombie types, mobile vehicles and stationary obstacles. The bosses you will face during the Story Mode are suitably imposing and the amount of animated enemies on screen at any one time is regularly impressive. The animated storyboard sequences for the Story Mode are also commendable, unique in their style in the same way that the soundtrack sadly fails to bring anything new to the table.
Available for the Xbox LIVE Arcade now (with an earlier Steam build also available and both PlayStation Network and Android editions on the way), Zombie Driver HD is an enjoyable action videogame experience. The lack of any online gameplay is undeniably disappointing, especially when considering just how suited to both competitive and co-operative multiplayer gameplay Zombie Driver HD actually is, but there’s still plenty of content included for the solo player. As a first attempt to deliver content for the console audience Zombie Driver HD deserves to be welcomed with open arms as an uncomplicated action videogame, and from this stable debut hopes are high that Exor Studios will push their ambitions further next time around.