A bad game about doing something fun
Generally speaking, there are few things that are socially acceptable to run over. No one will ever complain to you about running over a zombie. In the same apocalyptic vein, no one will ever complain about the vehicular flattening of a marauding mutant.
It’s funny how similar mutants and zombies can be. In fact, they’re so similar that the mutants in Mutant Roadkill look just like the zombies in Zombie Highway. They even act the same way, leaping onto the side of your vehicle with the intent to kill. It seems all these post apocalyptic worlds are starting to blend together.
The thing is, Zombie Highway’s post-apocalyptic world came first. Writing this review, I felt stuck in a rut. I did not enjoy Mutant Roadkill, but it wasn’t the worst game I’d ever played. Mindless fun, at best. Mindless not-fun at worst.
I hopped onto Mutant Roadkill’s App Store page to double check the name of the developer, Glu Games. While I was there, I noticed a user review that alleged Mutant Roadkill was a rip-off of Zombie Highway. A lot of people say a lot of things in user reviews, so I don’t often pay much attention to them. But still, I decided to investigate this accusation. I downloaded Zombie Highway and, low and behold, it looked the same, played (mostly) the same, and felt the same as Mutant Roadkill. It was also deeper and much more fun.
Which put me in another rut. Should I judge Mutant Roadkill as a beast of its own? Or should I judge it in comparison to the game that it obviously rips off. I decided to go with the latter.
But before I compare, I’ll explain Mutant Roadkill. It’s an endless action game in which you use motion controls to steer a vehicle that continuously moves forward until its inevitable destruction. On the road before you is a gauntlet of mutant bad guys and ruined vehicles. The bad guys must be run down. The ruined vehicles must be avoided.
Some mutants are docile and amble about aimlessly, waiting for you to explode them into gory chunks with your bumper. Others leap onto your vehicle and damage it. To dispose of them you must graze your vehicle against the wreckage you’re avoiding. Doing so knocks off the mutants and kills them. When enough mutants are killed, you are granted a temporary power up — an automatic turret, turbo boost, health, etc.
Each kill also grants a small amount of coinage, which can be used to purchase new vehicles and upgrades. Unless you are insane and willing to play this game 8 hours a day, you will never accumulate enough in-game coin to advance very far. That’s where Mutant Roadkill’s mercenary monetization scheme comes into play. Though the game is free, real cash is a must if you want to get anywhere. Buy some coins and then you might be able to afford a vehicle that won’t crumble to dust as soon as there’s trouble.
Or you could play Zombie Highway. The lite version is also free, except when you play you’ll actually achieve a sense of progression without having to shell out cash in-game. Zombies still leap onto your vehicle, and you still must graze wrecked cars to knock them off. However, instead of relying on a random, Mario Kart like system for weapons, you have a stash of guns sitting in your car and can shoot them whenever you like. Submachine guns, shotguns, and an assortment of other weapons can be unlocked simply by traveling certain distances, not by spending cash. With the tap of a finger, you can fire out of any of your vehicle’s four passenger windows. Saving ammo, switching weapons, and deciding whether to fire or whether to veer into obstacles is far more engaging than Mutant Roadkill’s gimped combat system.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that Zombie Highway is the superior game and Mutant Roadkill is a rip off with just enough tweaks to the gameplay to keep it from being blatant. And these tweaks to the gameplay result in a game that’s significantly less fun to play than its inspiration.