Earn to Die Review
- Sharp presentation; easy to use menus, controls and satisfying special effects.
- Fine-tuned progression curve; always just enough cash to nudge you towards your next objective.
- Unlockable Free-Play and Championship mode; adds some competitive longevity to the gameplay.
- Bonuses incur slow-downs, but it's often unclear what benefit they have; Flash game at least showed the cash earned for stunts.
- Boosts initially feel like they have an underwhelming affect on the outcome of a stage; good for when you've mastered a stage, but otherwise a waste of time/cash if you wish to progress.
- Repetitive music tracks; more variety would be appreciated.
Earn to Die is a solid adaption of the Flash game, bringing all new stages, vehicles, upgrades and obstacles to overcome while also packaging in a fun competitive mode to keep you coming back for more.
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Flightless birds and spaceward-bound rodents may make for cute and heartfelt inspirations for repeatedly launching them towards their ultimate goal, but there has always been an element missing from the experience - a sense of skill. Earn to Die by Toffee Games and Not Doppler fleshes out the short, but uniquely fun Flash game title, pitting you against the ever-ready threat of zombies, but for once your progress will also be bound to your skills as a driver.
In games of this sort the 'victory' state is more often a matter of time than effort; this is why you'll often find achievements tied to 'how long' it takes to finish in an attempt to inspire players to think creatively or pilot with skill. Earn to Die still retains the idea of trying to finish the game as quickly as possible, but brute force can only get you so far as the rolling hills you navigate are filled with tenuous wooden, metal and brick constructions (as well as hordes of zombies) to slow you down; hit them at the right angle and you'll sail through - miss... and you'll soon be restarting once again.
One thing Earn to Die absolutely nails is the sense of progression, be it the way in which you're almost always able to buy something meaningful after an attempt, to the different way each vehicle feels, and even multiple unlockable stages themselves. There's a sort of pattern to the initial progress through the game: Upgrade your current vehicle to maximum; earn enough for the next vehicle; upgrade it just enough to move on; rinse-repeat.
You'd think this would get tiresome very quickly, but each stage keeps throwing just enough challenges at you to tempt you to try one more time. It also helps that each zombie and building you strike, shoot, crush, or blow up does so with a satisfying squelch and crunch to feed that inner anarchist.
Just before this rigmarole runs out of addictive appeal you're done and you'll have unlocked the free-play mode and Championship mode. While the first mode provides players with a mindless distraction, the second pits you against players around the world to construct the best vehicle from a limited cash-pool in order to beat the stage as fast as possible. It's an ingenious addition to the genre that makes good use of the player's skill in driving and planning.
Earn to Die doesn't revolutionize the genre so much as it creates a high-standard for other developers to shoot for. If you're after something that mixes mindless violence with a dash of driving skill, this is for you.