Zombies may not quite instill the fear they once did amongst gamers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t carve out a memorable experience by attaching zombie slaying to an interesting concept, and let’s be honest it has to be said that mowing them down in a weaponised vehicle is certainly an interesting concept. Fortunately, that’s the exact thing you can expect to find should you jump into Zombie Driver Immortal Edition, the latest zombie title to arrive on Nintendo Switch. But how does the arrival on the handheld device stand up when compared to that of the PC and console rivals? The answer? Very well!
For those yet to hear of Zombie Driver, the game is focused on one particular idea – killing zombies. Slaughtering them by the masses is what you’ll spend the majority of your time doing whilst on the way to completing various other objectives that appear through a mission based format, with 31 missions involved altogether. Missions aren’t the only thing you’ll be taking part in though as there are a number of different game modes for players to enjoy too, and these change things up with Blood Race bringing competitive vehicular mayhem through racing, elimination and endurance type events. There is also Slaughter mode that pushes survival to the limits whilst challenging you to rack up the biggest points total by doing nothing more than simply slaughtering the zombie hordes for as long as you possibly can, all before you are turned into a smouldering wreck.
Regardless of which mode you choose to play however, one thing that stands out is the simplicity of it all. Whilst there is a surprisingly interesting narrative to take in throughout the apocalyptic Campaign mode, and there is plenty of competition to be had, especially for those leaderboard chasers and gold medal hunters, in both Blood Race and Slaughter Mode, the thing that ties it all together so well are the easy and fluid controls.
With the ZR button controlling acceleration, and ZL the brake, the only other real key control is in the shooting which is tied to the B button. This comes into play once players drive through one of the many available pickups that can be collected throughout the play area, including a flamethrower, a minigun, a rocket launcher and so on.
As for gameplay, there is one map from which players will be decimating the zombie hordes, and by progressing in the story mode further parts of the map are unlocked, such as bridges being opened up and seeing the playable area being expanded until you unlock everything. The Blood Race and Slaughter modes are slightly different mind, and instead consist of distinctive areas for you to race and slaughter in, whichever you feel most pulled towards.
In terms of enemies, variation isn’t exactly the strong point for Zombie Driver. Yes, there are different enemies to watch out for, such as dogs, typical zombies and even some much larger boss type characters, but there’s not really all too much that changes things up in terms of enemies. Instead the real excitement of it all comes from the sheer amount of zombies you’ll be up against in one go, rather than what type of zombies they are. What’s more is that with the Nintendo Switch screen being so small in handheld mode over that of a typical console experience, the enemies don’t really feel in desperate need of variation due to the failure to be able to see the finer details of each one. Of course you could put it on the big screen, but Zombie Driver is much better played in handheld mode.
You see, moving the gameplay over to the big screen and both the mini-map and on screen texts are much too small for the TV, and whilst it’s understandable they would be small for the handheld mode due to screen size, there seems to be no balancing for when switching between docked and handheld at all. This makes navigation difficult should you not know the areas well enough when playing docked.
Back to positives though and another raging plus for Zombie Driver Immortal Edition is the unique feel of each and every one of the vehicles included, and mastering the handling of these different vehicles is a big factor into just how far you’ll climb the in-game leaderboards. With vehicles ranging from a taxi all the way to a digger, provided you can masterfully pull off a dramatic handbrake turn when needed, you should be well on your way to crunching thousands of the dead with each of the well-designed customisable death machines!
Should you be a fan of the blockbuster hit Death Race, and have considered what it would be like should it be combined with the last remnants of The Walking Dead, then Zombie Driver Immortal Edition may just be your darkest dreams come true. We may have seen it arrive years ago elsewhere but time has certainly done no harm to this classic masterpiece and whilst size issues are present on the Nintendo Switch, there may be no better way to play than in handheld mode when on the go.
It’s fast, it’s exhilarating and it’s simplistic killing madness at its best. And it’s something that everyone should be experiencing.
Release date: July 2019
Formats: Nintendo Switch (Review)
Massive thanks to: Exor Studios