Zombie Road Trip fans will get a creeping sense of deja vu when playing Nuclear Outrun. As with that earlier game, you take charge of a vehicle on a murderous rampage through an apocalyptic city, one that's full of marauding undead. There are guns to be unlocked and vehicles to be earned, all in the pursuit of a new high score. It unquestionably owes a lot to Noodlecake's successful title, but there are a handful of differences to separate the two.
Movement across these particular 2D landscapes is automated, and so your only real job is to take control of the generous assortment of weapons that are on hand. As the car trundles over bumps and valleys in the road, you need to cycle through your weapons, using screen taps to take potshots at the zombies littering the road ahead - not to mention the explosives parcels and debris, all of which can damage your vehicle if you run into them. If your car's damage meter depletes entirely, it's back to the start for you.
Those zombies come in a wide variety of flavors too. Some crawl along the road slowly, while others bounce around, and some fly in on jetpacks, firing deadly missiles at you which need to be taken out in short order. While you start with four weapons, each one only has a limited amount of ammo, so you really need to be sparing with your firepower if you're to reach the various mission milestones the game throws at you. While the gameplay is pretty primitive overall, the different guns on offer are pretty fun to experiment with.
The real name of the game here though is upgrades. You can buy and upgrade new weapons with game cash, and change your weapon loadout to keep things fresh. Different vehicles - some reasonably easy to attain, others a pure cash-shop lure - offer a mixed balance of defensive and offensive capabilities. Then there are the expensive bonus upgrades like mechanical godzillas which can be called into action to cause even more mayhem. As you travel through the apocalypse, you'll also rescue fellow survivors - switch to that character as the main driver, and you'll receive a small perk such as greater survivability, more ammo, and so on.
Fun though it is to race across the landscape splattering anything that moves, the progression system really doesn't work as well as it should. The balancing of the randomized landscapes, objects and zombies feels noticeably uneven between attempts. As a result, your progress in two different rounds will differ wildly - regardless of how many upgrades you might have thrown at your overall loadout. Still, if it's the upgrade system itself - rather then your own developing skills - that satisfies you, there's a lot to like about Nuclear Outrun. Just don't expect to be blown away.
What's Hot:There are lots of weapons, vehicles and upgrades to unlock, and the shooting mechanics are pretty satisfying.
What's Not:Gameplay is very limited, and you sense Nuclear Outrun needed another round of balancing to make long-term play enjoyable.