Reviews
Z-Run

By Malcolm Inglis - July 13th, 2014

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Z-Run is a game created in the endless-runner style, featuring zombies (hence the title). It is now available for digital download on the PlayStation Vita. It’s developed by Beatshapers, a name I recognized from some of the ports that they did from mobile games, ports releases on PSN for the PSP and PS3 (including Jetpack Joyride). Unsurprisingly, Z-Run looks and plays a lot like a mobile game, which may not be the kind of experience you would expect given the graphical power and advanced controls on the Vita.

The game features two selectable characters, named Alex and Claire, who are trying to escape from a city overrun by zombies – and that’s really all there is as far as a story. After selecting your character, there is a map of the city with various routes that can be taken and levels to choose from. Starting on the first level, your character begins running and you need to navigate them over, under and around obstacles, jumping gates and maneuvering around parked cars, while dodging the zombies shambling down the street.

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There is no map to a more innovative experience than the mobile game.

You also have the ability to jump-kick and slide-kick zombies, which causes them to fly into the air and leave a bloody splatter on the screen. In addition, there are power-ups and weapons to be collected along the way, including a baseball bat, katana and shotgun. The power-ups are for health, which you lose when you hit an obstacle or are attacked by a zombie; and stamina, which is depleted whenever you perform a maneuver or attack (but will also slowly regenerate on its own). As you progress across the levels in the city, you can store the items and weapons that you collect and then equip them later to pass the more difficult levels. Your character’s abilities can also be upgraded, giving them greater stamina and a larger weapon capacity.

Game-play is very similar to other endless runner titles (like Temple Run) but it does make use of the Vita’s analog controls and buttons as opposed to the typical mobile game tilt-and-touch controls. Other than that, it doesn’t offer much more than what you would find in the mobile market. The graphics would look right at home on a phone, but on the Vita, they look sub-par and the main character animations are as stiff as the living dead ones. The sound effects and in-game music are passable, but similarly uninspired. Overall the presentation is generic and game-play gets very repetitive without much motivation to keep going.

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Yes. Yes I am.

With Z-Run, Beatshapers combined two tired tropes of gaming: the endless-runner and zombies; unfortunately (and predictably), it didn’t create a very compelling Vita experience. With bland graphics and boring game-play I really don’t feel right recommending this title. That might seem harsh; however, if it was 99 cents or free, like on the mobile market, it could be excusable – but for $8.99 on the Vita, amidst a growing selection of innovative and imaginative titles no less, Z-Run sadly stumbles and falls below expectations.

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