Review: ZRun

the over complicated controls and stamina system make it frustrating and clumsy…

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ZRun is a third person runner game for set in the zombie apocalypse. The dead have risen and you have got to get out of the city, and to do so, you have decided to run. For anyone that isn’t familiar with the runner genre, the basic concept is to get from the beginning of the level to the end in a single life whilst avoiding traps and enemies along the way.

When you start the game you’re given a choice of two characters, male or female. You select your difficulty and then you start running. Each level is full of zombies and other obstacles like cars and barriers that you have to avoid until you get to the end of the level.  During each level, you gain XP by killing zombies and surviving for certain distances. With this XP you are able to upgrade different skills for your character from health and stamina, to weapon and ammo capacities. As you traverse through a level, each action you perform uses an amount of stamina, this slowly replenishes during the level or you can use in game items to refill it immediately. The problem is that there are so many zombies and objects in your way, I found myself constantly unable to jump over barriers which would most of the time kill me, as I’d been low on health from not being able to defend myself against the onslaught of zombies due to low stamina. Low stamina which meant I couldn’t jump over barriers, leading to me getting caught and… you can see where that’s going.

When I wasn’t struggling with stamina, the core game play is fun. I mean, what’s not to like about beating down a horde of zombies and doing it with an electric guitar? Other weapons in the game are your standard zombie apocalypse arsenal of blunt and sharp objects and of course, firearms. Guns make the horde a little easier, but ammo is not infinite.

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My main gripe with the game is its controls, they feel over complicated for such a basic game genre. Most of the runner games I have played in the past have simple controls normally having a button or two to push. ZRun manages to use nearly every button on the Vita. The face buttons are for jumping, sliding and attacking, the D-Pad selects weapons and uses consumables, the right analog stick moves you while the left one is used for dodging, the right shoulder button is for sprinting. If that wasn’t bad enough, when you kill the zombies blood splatters on to the screen which requires you to wipe it clean using the touchscreen. This is a problem as unless you have a third hand as wiping the screen means you do not have full control of the character at that time.

ZRun is not pushing the Vita hardware by any means, but I did experience slow down a couple of times whilst playing the game. Graphically the game looks ok for what it is, but it wouldnt surprise me if this game turns up on mobiles at a later date. The environments have enough detail in them but some of the textures are a little rough when you look at them closer.

ZRun is a simple fun game in principle, but the over complicated controls and stamina system make it frustrating and clumsy. Not being able to do the basic actions to avoid obstacles in the world seems like a poor design choice.  At one point I had no stamina to roll out of the way of a parked car. I ran in to it, bounced off it and stumbled back a few feet before running back in to it. I bounced off, stumbled back a few feet… there was nothing I could do until I finally hit the car again and finally died. If you are after some sort of endless runner for the Vita, I can’t recommend you go and buy ZRun when Jetpack Joyride is on the Vita, and its free.

Reviewed on PS Vita

 
 

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