Sunday, 11 March 2012

Zombie Driver: Game Design Review

The idea of zombie driver is to create a top down driving game where you mow or shoot down zombies. From a graphics and sound perspective, the heart of Zombie Driver is in the right place. Unfortunately the gameplay looks good on paper but seriously needs some serious tweaking and modifications to be any fun.

Here are the problems with it:
Camera needs to be smarter - There's nothing wrong wtih having a top down view similar to a lot of top down arena shooters. However the camera is a bit too tight especially for such a high speed game. Similar to the first Grand Theft Auto games, everytime you turn, the camera immediately swings to follow you. This might have worked if this was a slower game which doesn't require too much turning but the nature of a car game like this requires you to turn fairly rapidly and often. Unfortunately this just creates motion sickness.

It's especially hard to see where you're going because of your speed. The camera stays exactly the same regardless of the speed you're travelling at. This combined with the lack of map means it's hard to know what's coming up and I often ended up crashing into places because of that.

The camera should be ideally positioned similar to the later 3D Grand Thef Autos. Slightly behind the car. Alternatively, the camera needs to be zoomed out much more to give you a better view of the what's going on especially at high speeds!

You can only have one weapon at a time - Most games like this will usually give you a speed boost ability combined with a variety of weapons like Bandits: Phoenix Rising. Because this game is designed around running over zombies, the developers decided to give you only one weapon slot and have your speed boost ability as a possible weapon. This means if you want a machine gun, you'll have to sacrifice the speed boost. I not convinced that this was a good idea. It is very clear from the artwork graphics and overall tone the game is about running over zombies not shooting them but I still think it would have been better if you had more choice in the matter!

Lack of a map or compass of some sort - The biggest flaw in this game is the lack of a map in a fairly large world. For a game which is all about travelling a city it's surprising that this was left out especially since it's the same city.

Needs more destructible terrain - You can run over small fences and bushese you can't really mow down concrete or certain barriers. I was sort of hoping to be able to crash through houses and cause more mayhem.

Upgrades need to be more fun - As far as I can see you can upgrade your weapons and your car but aren't really any special powers or anything. You just do more damage or you drive faster etc. Nothing really special. I was hoping you would get special abilities like in an RPG and be able to craft and modify your weapons.

I didn't try racing mode of the game because I just didn't feel like it was worth it. I did however try the survival mode where you race around a small arena trying to survive zombie attacks. It's actually okay as an arena survival game

I appreciate this is an indie game but the lack of variety and polish in the core concept really drag the game down and really there's no reason to get this over other action games. While technical competent and a promising start, the game never really delivers on its promises of over-the-top zombie mowing fun! For me, I think the creators were too limited in their scope focusing solely on mowing down zombies rather than trying to create choice in gameplay. If only they had fixed these problems, created more variety and made more of the environment destructible I think we would have had a sweet action gem. As it stands, you're better off just buying another game.

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