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Outrun the Zombie Apocalypse in Earn to Die
The plot of Earn to Die game is simple, a man is stuck in the desert, and he finds three abandoned vehicles. Using a bit of money (at this point, please leave all logical questions out of the table), he purchases one car and tries to drive his way out. With that initial statement alone, we are pretty sure most of you folks can see plenty of wide open plot holes. After all, no on would even care if he buys the car or steals them. More importantly, he chose the rickety old hunchback car over the massive trailer -or even the van. Next, there really is no one out there in the desert to receive his payments. Really, the plot simply does not make sense. But if you can actually manage to get past that -not that hard, after at all we did. The game is actually quite enjoyable, challenging and most important of all upgrade based games, addicting.
How the Game Plays
As we said, the plot is completely pointless, but the rest of the game is pretty much golden. It works like this: you run your car as far as you can, gaining cash for the distance you covered. The farther you get from the starting line, the more money you earn. The more money you earn, the more upgrades you can buy to get even farther and much later, buy a better car. Better cars and upgrades simply means being able to get farther and farther away in terms of distance travelled and at the very end of the road, about the 3000 km mark, is the goal line.
Those 3000 kilometers happens to be a stretch of zombie and obstacle laden wasteland that is waiting for you -fortunately, the game will not end if you run out of fuel or accidentally flip your car over. When that happens, you are magically teleported back to the start point, and given a chance to make your drive again.
When you do finally make it to the end, you will find that another vehicle, a helicopter is waiting for you. Once you reach it, your character will automatically ride the chopper to freedom -and you get to enjoy a silly little twist at the ending as well. There is a small count of days (or rather, attempts) that show how long it took you to reach the helicopter. For some players, one of the main goals is to get to the helicopter in the shortest amount of days possible.
The Upgrade System
Upgrading your vehicle is simple matter of determining which parts should get priority over the others. And for all cars, there are a total of six different components for the player to upgrade, they are as follows:
- Gas Tank - this says how much gas you can carry, without gas, nothing in your car will run.
- Tires - the tires of your vehicle determine how well it can handle bumps on the road -big or small, be it natural rock formations or the fallen bodies of zombies.
- Transmission - is the gears for your car and they determine how fast you can accelerate your vehicle.
- Engine - the engine of your car determines the maximum speed you can reach and how fast you run on average.
- Booster - each car has an optional booster upgrade, these have a separate fuel tank and can be used to propel the car at high speeds over small distances.
- Gun - lastly, you can mount a gun on top of your car. This will automatically shoot at zombies in your way and has a limited amount of ammunition.
Choosing which of the six to prioritize differs from player to player, but for the most part, the tires and transmission upgrades work great for those who want speed. Naturally, over everything else, the gas tank is a priority to upgrade.
After you finish doing upgrades, you will then take your car out and try to escape. And try is the important keyword here as you should expect to keep coming back to the upgrade room until much later in the game. Nothing much in the game provides cash -you will earn a few bonuses for doing a few special tricks on the wasteland (like knocking over boxes and combo-killing zombies) but since the game does not provide instructions as to what these bonuses are, they all feel pretty random. The key money earning factor here is the distance you travel.
Getting far is a matter of having enough gas to get there, having the speed to boost up mountains and over course, trying to get your car over the obstacles in order to avoid being slowed down. There are many areas where the slopes go uphill and your acceleration and speed will take a bit of a downturn. Also, hitting the zombies will slow you down big time -the worst part is that the zombies are often placed near the very top of uphill slopes, making all the more challenging to get far at the start of the game.
The car controls are simple, press up to accelerate and use the forward and back to tilt your car mid air. Tilting back on the ground will cause your car to perform a wheelie (doing a wheelie before hitting a zombie helps reduce the speed penalty) and pressing forward presses your front tires harder on the ground. Use the tilt controls to maximize your acceleration by keeping all your wheels on the ground. With that said, lay off the gas when you are mid air, as you will simply be wasting your fuel. The control button is used for activating boost -which is pretty much your self-running nitro. A great use of boost is as an alternative to fuel entirely -when you press it, let go of the gas. Also, try to time the boost during the upward slope of a jump, as it will help you stay mid-air for a pretty good amount of time.
By using up your fuel, boost and ammunition to get as far as you can, the game will provide you with a cash reward based on the distance you have managed to reach. Once your car is performing decently, save up your money for buying the next vehicle in line -maxing out the specs of a lower tier car is pointless if you can easily afford the next vehicle after a couple of runs. Also, a better car earns more cash -we really do not know why, but that is simply how it works.
The graphics for the game are pretty decent, the zombies are easy to spot and the desert looks pretty much like the vast, cactus-laden, arid wasteland it is supposed to be. The cars are a little nicer to look at, each having its own post-apocalyptic Madmaxx feel to it. The nice big trailer which serves as the final vehicle does feel a little more well maintained than the previous two. Overall, there really is nothing about the graphics on this game that really stands out -though it is significantly better than all those hastily drawn flash titles that litter the web. The animations are also smoothly executed, which means that the developers have not been slouching around when it came to choosing which frames they should repeat.
Playing through the game, you will experience moving both fast and slow and in both cases, it is easy to figure out what is going on. Spotting the zombies, crates, jumps and slopes is simply a matter of looking at the screen. All the small design details are vividly clear too -from the firing of your mounted gun to the small splinters of the crates you smash through, there is a sufficient level of detail in the game to stay immersive for most casual players.
The music does fare well, and the sound effects come with all the necessary grunts, whirrs and crashes that one would expect from a game about running over zombies to survive.
We are not really all that keen on having another upgrade and toss game, but the zombie genre could use the variety in gameplay and this is a rather nice attempt. Being writers, we cannot help but notice the massive plot holes in the game, but at least once you start enjoying the gameplay, those little factors become insignificant and you get to focus on having fun instead. With its decently made graphics and sounds, but solidly addictive gameplay, Earn to Die game has become a title that is a great starting point for many toss/launch newbies. For those of us who are already familiar with the genre, the driving element certainly adds a bit of spice. Farming up the cash for upgrades do take a while but the attempts are all uniquely fun to go through -though a little more generosity with the rewards would have made the grinding part of the game a whole lot faster to get through. We give this game a lost desert-borne zombie's