Developer: Auxbrain
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

There’s a fine line between a game that demands precision and a game that demands perfection. A game that demands perfection can be frustrating; a game that demands precision, but doesn’t excessively punish imperfections, can be rewarding. Zombie Highway: Driver’s Ed demands precision, and it is extremely fun and rewarding to play.

zhde_carnageThis is a spinoff of Zombie Highway where the gunplay of the original has been all but eliminated in favor of precision driving. Players drive down an endless, procedurally-generated road, with zombies constantly jumping on to the vehicle, trying to tip it over or to steer the car straight into a barrier. Here, the only way to get rid of zombies is by scraping them off of the vehicle against the obstacles along the way. Points are given for doing scrape damage and for achieving combos of successful maneuvers, including going correctly around certain slalom obstacles.

The combos are the key here, and the system is wonderfully-balanced. See, doing things like having the car scrape obstacles or missing a slalom point drains the combo meter that ticks down over time, with successful maneuvers increasing it. So when players make a mistake, there’s that immediate feedback of knowing that something bad happened. But because one slight mistake won’t end a long combo, players know that they need to focus and get right. The popper, which is locked at the beginning but becomes available not long after starting, also serves as a great corrective mechanic, extending combos by killing all zombies on board, but being limited over an entire run so as to discourage its overuse. Thus, when a combo is lost, it feels not like punishment for one indiscretion, but something deserved for failing too much. It’s a wonderfully-implemented mechanic that reveals itself over time.

zhde_two_wheelinThe game can start off a bit slow at the beginning, and it can feel like runs end earlier than they should, but after a couple of upgrades the game really gets going and the player feels like they have a fighting chance. Stick around till then, folks: that’s when the game gets good. The controls can be sensitive, but they have to be – this is a very sensitivity-heavy game. Little maneuvers are necessary. While this isn’t a full sequel to Zombie Highway, the game has gotten a fresh coat of paint and looks great on modern devices.

Zombie Highway: Driver’s Ed is an incredibly well-designed game that lets players have fun while testing their skills in a way that isn’t frustrating.

Posted in: Games, iPad Apps and Games, iPad Games, iPhone Apps and Games, Reviews

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,