If you are anything like me, you will often lie awake at night wondering what would happen if a developer made a game that mixed up Crackdown 2, Destruction Derby and Burnout Paradise. Well, wonder no further my friends. Armageddon Riders is here.
The premise behind the game is simple. Atom City has been evacuated; some kind of device was accidentally activated that turned most of the residents into the walking dead. The city has since become a playground for drivers who want to either collect artifacts, kill zombies or just kill each other.
On paper, this game shouldn’t work; racing games can be really difficult to get right, and the zombie angle seems to be wearing a bit thin now. What Targem Games have done, is to keep emphasise off of how of the different kinds of cars drive (there aren’t that many to choose from) and, instead, put the focus on the car upgrades. They have also concentrated on filling the world with interesting, yet crazy content, which results in a game that is as much a joy to roam around in as it is to take on missions in.
You are thrown into the city with just a standard car and the game directs you to the first mission using the mini map and a handy little arrow in front of your car. The game is good like that. It will always point you in the direction of the next mission, but still allows you to roam the city at your leisure. There are also plenty of side missions to keep you occupied; most of these are timed collection missions, but they are a great way to earn cash.
There are eight types of missions on offer in Armageddon Riders, including street races, zombie killing sprees, arena car combat and artifact hunting. Street racing and arena car combat is self explanatory, but most of the other types of missions are timed based objective games. Artifact hunting requires you to collect a certain number of artifacts within the allotted time, with time bonuses for each collection. Zombie killing also has a time limit, but involves you killing as many zombies as possible.
Like rival drivers, the zombies are also a hazard to you health. There are three main types of zombie; the type that will just stand there and allow you to mow them down, the type that likes to jump on top of your car and damage it from the outside and the type that likes to jump in through the drivers window and eat your brains. There are also zombies with TNT strapped to their chests and ones that are carrying Flamethrowers! Luckily, there are some great gadgets to help you out in the undead assassination department.
As you complete missions, you will not only earn cash, but also unlock new cars, new paintjobs and, more importantly, new killing gadgets. You can add spikes and grinders to the front of your car, retractable blades to the sides and wire your car up to electrocute any zombies that want a free ride (a great use of the now-defunct sixaxis). These gadgets cost a lot of money, so it may take you a while to get them all, but this progression through the game feels right and means you are never too far away from the next upgrade. You can also equip your car with three types of booster, each one more powerful than the last. Boosts are great for timed missions, but by using them you compromise control, so they are best used on straights.
Controlling the cars works extremely well, for the most part. Seeing as this is a car combat game and not a simulation, the controls feel loose and allow you to get up to great speeds and still maintain a level of control around corners. The only issue I found is that the handbrake takes a little getting used to as there seems to be a slight delay on it. This can get annoying to start with as the handbrake is essential in this game, but after an hour or so, it was like I was on rails.
For a PSN game, Armageddon Riders looks great. With the exception of a little screen tearing, the game looks detailed and smooth. The tearing isn’t that bad, and seeing as they did a great job making everything else look sharp, I will cut them some slack. The game also has some great sound effects as you run over zombies and splatter their blood across the highway. The car models and paintjobs are incredible and you can see a lot of work went into making them shine. In all honesty, this game looks better than some retail driving games out there.
The soundtrack is also rather interesting, comprised mostly of heavy country music. An unusual choice, but don’t let it put you off. The music fits the game perfectly and gives it a whole ‘Dukes of Hazard’ feel.
Armageddon Riders could have been a full priced game, with so much content on offer and the shear amount of fun to be had. The game even has split screen two player, something that is getting harder and harder to find. Sure, it may not have online multiplayer, but in all fairness, it doesn’t need it. Targem Games have done themselves proud and I only hope that this game doesn’t get over looked as just some zombie Burnout game.
If you are looking for a driving game that doesn’t take itself too seriously and can be played in long sessions or just for 20 minutes, then Armageddon Riders may be what you are looking for.
Review copy provided by publisher.