Z-Run Review – Run Away! (Vita)
Remember that game Temple Run that set iPads and iPhones ablaze with it’s simple concept of running, jumping, and sliding through temples as you collect gold and whatnot. Now, welcome Z-Run, a game that brings the world of running and sliding into the zombie apocalypse. With some added mechanics to try and spice it up, Z-Run dares you to escape infection and utter boredom in this ravaged town. Will you make it out alive or better yet, will you even care enough to see it through to the end?
Here is the spot in the review that I would usually tell you about the plot or characters, but there is really nothing to tell. The game starts up and you go right into running, without any story as to why you are running or who your character is. There’s a guy named Alex, and a girl named Claire, but beyond that it is left up to you to create a back story to their adventure. That’s all fine, though, as not every game needs a story; but it would have been nice to know why I’m left running through the streets like someone that’s being chased by bulls.
As you select your character for the campaign mode, you can also select your difficulty rating between three choices. The only difference I can spot between the difficulty modes, is the fact that the easier the difficulty is, the less damage you take from running into objects or having a zombie hit you. The same amount of zombies are on screen for each level no matter the difficulty. There’s not even a difference between the two characters aside from the fact that Claire looks a lot better in jeans than Alex. Both of them run with the same swagger of a drunkard, with each movement feeling sluggish and delayed. It feels like it’s just an attempt to make things difficult by making the controls stiff, but it could have been done better in other ways.
As you speed through the city streets, you will need to watch out for not only zombies, but cars and barricades that are littered throughout the streets. You can avoid all of these things by either dodging to the side, jumping over, or sliding under objects. When faced with a zombie, you can either slide kick them Street Fighter style, ninja kick their face, or dodge around them. It’s kind of odd that when kicking or sliding, your character gains the agility of a monkey yet when running he or she becomes a tank. While you’re running and dodging, you can also pick up weapons to use a few times and items to help you out. Be careful though as with every movement or running motion, you will drain your stamina. Once its depleted, you move about as fast as someone sleep walking; so you usually won’t survive long enough to have your stamina meter refill.
Levels in the campaign are usually pretty short, lasting no longer than 30 seconds before you’re moved to the next block of the town. I literally had no idea where you are going in this town, but you are moving in a direction, that I know for sure. Now, if you feel tired of the start and stop aspect of the campaign, you can try your hand at survival mode. Here you can select between different survival areas, and then run and run until you die. It’s a cool mode if you want to stomach through levels without an end in sight but doesn’t really offer much more than the campaign does. In fact, I liked the quick hits of the campaign as I had a shorter distance to mindlessly run through a horde of zombies before I got to stop.
Both weapons and your character can be upgraded in the game, which is a nice touch. However, weapons only last for a few hits so it’s almost useless to upgrading them, when you can just pick one up through the level. It also doesn’t help that a slide kick through multiple zombies is much more efficient than a these pick ups. I spent more time on my ass, sliding around than I did picking up a weapon and swinging it. It is Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that they included it in there, but it really doesn’t do anything to make the game any better.
Presentation-wise there isn’t a lot to say with Z-Run. The graphics are pretty below average, with the only real highlight being the blood that splatters on the screen as you mow through the zombies — it’s actually a cool feature as you have to wipe off the blood to see ahead. Thankfully, for those that just want to run without using the windshield wipers, you can turn this feature off. The sound work is actually not half bad, with some cool menu music and a good use of sounds throughout each level. Sounds are one of the few price spots on this product, so make sure to turn up that Vita volume and rock out.
Z-Run is exactly what you would expect, a mindless run through the town, kicking and sliding your way to safety. The controls and characters are completely stiff and there is really no big redeeming quality outside of the music to keep you coming back. What’s even worse is that the game is priced at $8.99, which is a ridiculous sum for what boils down to a PlayStation Mini-type game. While this type of game might have an audience, as evidenced from the success ofTemple Run, I cannot in my good conscience recommend this to anyone unless it reaches the bargain bin pricing range.