By Eric Pankoke on Sat, 12/01/2012
Around the time that Earn To Die came out it seemed like several such games came onto the App Store. I tried some of the other ones as well, and for some reason this one seemed to catch my attention the most. The concept as a whole is fairly redundant: race until you run out of gas, upgrade your vehicle and repeat. Still, Earn To Die has managed to suck me in every time I load it up, and as far as I'm concerned that's the most important feature a game should have.
Like any good zombie story, you are a potentially lone survivor of some viral outbreak that has turned all your friends and neighbors into the walking undead. In story mode you have to make your way from New Hope to an airport on the coast where hopefully you’ll be lifted away to some safe zone. Of course if the U.S. has been overcome, who’s to say that anyone else has survived? There are only 9 stops along the way, but you’ll spend several game days at each one until you’ve upgraded your current car enough to make the whole trip between two stops in one go. Speaking of which, each day you’ll earn money simply for trying to get to your next destination and for running over zombies along the way. That money can be used to enhance things like the engine, tires or weapons system in your current vehicle, as well as allow you to purchase new vehicles. There are eight vehicles in all, and you’ll need the biggest and best to make it all the way to the end.
To control your current vehicle you have an accelerate and boost button (assuming you’ve equipped boost on your selected vehicle), as well as buttons for tilting the vehicle forward and back. Quite often in games like this I tend to ignore the tilt buttons for some odd reason, but there are certain points in most levels where it really can make a difference in your performance. Once you’ve completed story mode you unlock Halloween mode which lets you race through each level trying to crush pumpkins, some of which are being held in the air by giant bats. It’s harder than it sounds, but you can choose from any of the vehicles that you’ve unlocked for each level. There’s also a championship mode where you get a specific vehicle to run each of the levels with. The vehicle gets unlimited gas, but you only have a certain amount of cash to upgrade the rest of the features, which are set back to their basic levels. The test in this mode is to see how quickly you can complete each level given the upgrades you choose. Aside from these additional modes, you can always replay story mode to try and complete it in a shorter amount of time.
Graphically there’s a lot of great pixel art going on in this game. The backgrounds are pretty detailed and you get to see lots of bits of things flying around as you crash into stuff. There’s even a slow motion mode when you hit a large group of items just right. You also get to watch your vehicle change as you buy upgrades which is always fun. The sound effects are pretty plain when it comes to things like zombie groans and gunfire, but on the plus side each of the vehicles has a different engine noise. There’s something oddly satisfying about hearing the roar of a bus engine as you mow down undead civilians. The soundtrack has a heavy metal vibe which is not really my thing, but it suits the game quite well.
There’s nothing necessarily magical about Earn To Die, and I’m sure you’ve played games like it before. However, the quality of this particular entry in its genre is good enough to make it worth playing, even if it is just one more “run over everything in your way” type game. The additional unlockable game modes, while not offering any new mechanics or even maps for that matter, still have decent enough twists to the story mode to make them enjoyable. Overall this was a rather enjoyable game despite its simplistic nature (I’m not saying it’s easy, mind you). If you’re looking for your next zombie crushing fix, Earn To Die might just fill that void.
Overall Score: 8/10
App Store Link
This game was reviewed on an iPad 2 Running iOS 6.0.1.