Zombie Highway: Driver’s Ed, the follow-up release to Auxbrain’s survival driving game, is now available from the app store. Eschewing the multitude of weaponry available in the original for a crash course in defensive driving techniques, Zombie Highway: Driver’s Ed makes up for it with missions, vehicle upgrades, and experience leveling that compels the player to keep on truckin’.
Zombie Highway: Driver’s Ed Pros:
- Improved graphics with great detail
- Sound effects add to atmosphere and lack of soundtrack keeps focus on gameplay
- Tilt controls are very responsive
- Lots of vehicle upgrades and cool multiplier increases tied to experience leveling
- Lots of missions to complete
- GameCenter integration for leaderboards and achievements
Zombie Highway: Driver’s Ed Cons:
- Little variety in environmental visuals
Zombie Highway: Driver’s Ed features a single endless game mode with random barrier arrangements and random sections focused on slalom maneuvers, tunnel driving, and freestyle cruising. Zombies leap at your vehicle from the sides of the road, clinging to your car and attempting to flip you over or direct your car into any of the barriers littering the roadway. There are a variety of zombie types, including fat zombies and red zombies that are significantly harder to scrape off than their weaker counterparts. You are confined to a single SUV, though you can upgrade its tires, struts, engine, and vehicle chassis. Each upgrade impacts the overall acceleration, speed, handling, anti-roll ability, and inertia of the vehicle. You are awarded money and XP for killing zombies and performing good maneuvers, such as scraping zombies off of your vehicle by driving near barriers or passing slalom events on the correct side of the signs. Experience points go toward your overall level, with each successive level awarding you a greater multiplier in one respect or another, be it for each mile you drive, for combo length, etc. You also earn cash and XP for completing missions, including driving 5 miles, killing 1,000 zombies in total, scoring 500,000 points, and completing a 150-hit combo.
You are constantly increasing a hit combo meter for scraping zombies, passing slalom barriers, running over zombies, and the like. Bash a barrier with too much of your car, miss a slalom sign, or let too much time pass without a positive maneuver and the combo meter drops back to zero. You do have a fun failsafe that can help out in this situation. Since this is a training course, each of the zombies is fitted with an explosive device attached to the back of its head. At level 3, you gain access to The Popper, a device that will detonate these devices on any zombies clinging to your vehicle. It separates the undead from their heads, sending a satisfying stream of blood spurting from their necks and delaying the expiration of your combo meter just a little longer. At select experience intervals along the way, you also gain access to some perks that can be purchased at the start of a run, which can improve your car’s speed/acceleration for a single run, increase resistance to rollovers for a single run, and increase your combo timer for longer combos, though these boosts come at a price.
Graphically, Zombie Highway: Driver’s Ed features even better visuals than the original, with a more polished interface that even utilizes some fun parallax effects when you tilt the screen on the menus. There is just the one environment, so things can look a little stale after a while, though the darkened tunnels help to mix things up just a bit. The zombies no longer have health bars above their heads, so it’s anyone’s guess as to when each brain-eater will get ripped from your car. The screen top contains a lot of critical info, such as total distance, current multiplier, remaining poppers (which can be upgraded to allow for more activations in each run), and your current score. Each new road section is introduced by an overhead sign to allow you a moment to prepare. The in-game audio features a lot of neat automotive sound effects and zombie grunts, as well as the enjoyable popper sound when exploding zombie heads. There is still no musical soundtrack, which is just fine with us. The vehicle is controlled by tilting the device left and right, and the popper is activated by tapping the screen. The controls are tight and easy to use.
Replay value is outstanding, as the opportunity to outdo our previous score/distance is everpresent. Character leveling and vehicle upgrading are always making it easier to improve upon our performance, as well as the ability to use a boost at the beginning of a run. Extremely challenging missions (pass 250 consecutive slalom signs without a miss) also compelled us to keep pressing on. GameCenter integration provides 5 leaderboards (best score, longest distance, longest combo, most run kills, and most cash earned) and 30 achievements to earn (the same 30 missions you are tasked to complete in the game). At $0.99, we expect this 5-Dimple gem to nestle into a cozy place atop the app store charts.
Zombie Highway: Driver's Ed Review,