The Last Driver
Where can the endless-runner go next, we are surely all asking ourselves by now? The Last Driver's answer is to put you in a car, send you into a post-apocalyptic city on the edge of ruin, fill it with zombies and other outlandish creatures, and then see how you get on. Oh, and you've got a machine-gun strapped to your roof too.
That all sounds like quite good fun, but the most interesting thing about The Last Driver is actually the way the environment changes dynamically as you head deeper into each run. Boulders come rolling down from hills, bridges explode under UFO fire, cars up ahead crash into each other in deadly, road-blocking collisions.
So as well as taking out zombies via your bonnet or bazooka, you also have to bob and weave your way through the chaotic scenes unfolding around you. Get hit by a smoldering boulder and you'll lose some health, ditto if a particularly ferocious zombie comes crashing through the windscreen. Take 100% damage and you'll need to start all over again. On paper, it's a nice idea.
Unfortunately, some of the near-distance car collisions occur with not nearly enough warning or predictability for the player to accurately respond. It's great to see more dynamic content than we typically experience in an endless-runner, but the execution is poorly handled and often leaves you feeling cheated into taking damage. Nothing's more frustrating than to line yourself up perfectly for a ramp jump, only to have a car slam into the side of you as you're about to take off.
Combined with the rather jagged performance of the game on our second-generation iPad this can make navigating the road extremely difficult and frustrating. There's some sloppiness about the generation of obstacle layout too, with some areas being impossible to navigate. You've just got to take it on the chin and hope you stumble across the occasional health pack on the road.
Fortunately you can mitigate some of these problems by heading to the game's shop. Here you can spend the currency on upgrading your car's handling, pack a beefier gun onto the roof, or even pick up a new vehicle altogether. The thing is, it can be such a frustrating experience in the early days that you may never get to enjoy the game's finer moments through upgrading.
There's a fairly inoffensive but off-the-shelf metal soundtrack to keep things trucking along in the background, although the low-fi samples used for the rest of the audio are both repetitive and over-used. A pity when you consider that amongst this apocalypse there are dinosaurs and UFOs roaming around. They could have sounded glorious!
The Last Driver is one of those games that could have been brilliant in so many ways and so it leaves you feeling conflicted. It's far clumsier and less polished than the big-name endless-runners, yet it packs in considerably more variety through the dynamic environments. There are also more customization options than usual, but you might struggle to make it far enough to unlock them. It's a mixed bag, then, and only the most hardcore runner fans will be completely won over by the game.
What's Hot: Consistently fresh environments and a decent upgrade system.
What's Not: Poor audio overall, mixed with some sloppy obstacle generation.