Earn To Die 2 – Review

Title   Earn To Die 2
Developer  Toffee Games
Publisher  Not Doppler
Platform  iOS, Android (reviewed)
Genre  Arcade, Driving

Wait, what?  There’s an Earn To Die 1?  Apparently so.  When I happened upon this one in the Play Store, my immediate reaction was ‘ugh, zombies are bland enough but zombies being run over by cars… why even bother?‘.  Then, for some bizarre reason known only to my symbiote, I found myself downloading it to the tablet.  What’s more, I played it almost immediately, which is a rarity for me as I tend do ‘Steam’ it by downloading a tonne of games and subsequently forget that any of them even exist while I go on the prowl for more to add to the collection.

The first thing that struck me was how clean the presentation of the graphics was, especially considering it’s a zombie-fuelled Mad Max-styled MacGyver-em-up.  Rather than the typical post-apocalyptic look and feel where the environment was crumbling at your feet, everything here had a bit of spit and polish.  There may have been a lot of debris lying around, but it looked like it had been recently delivered by B&Q and given a good scrub-up by Kim & Aggie to avoid any embarrassment.

You’re a regular Joe trying to escape from west coast USA to Florida in order to catch the last military evacuation plane from the Exodus base, and doing so by picking up all manner of abandoned vehicles in the hopes that they’ll lead you to eventual safety.  The problem is that zombies pack a bit of a punch, so every time you run one over it tears a little bit of health from your transport, and pulling yourself up various hills – and over the pile of recently re-deceased – also takes its toll on your fuel consumption, so there’s no way you’ll be able to get from A to B without a couple of refills.

The journey is split into ten separate levels, with a new vehicle to unlock for each one.  When you start each level, there’s practically no way in hell you’ll be able to even make it as far as the first checkpoint – each level has two separate gas stations which act as checkpoints – and with no money so early on, your first outing will have a strong sense of rinse-and-repeat action where you get as far as your car can take you, pick up whatever cash you racked up from killing zombies, and head back to the garage in order to splash out on some upgrades for your vehicle.  The garage allows you to upgrade the engine, transmission, wheels, weight distribution, fuel tank, as well as an opportunity to add a gun, armour, and a boost facility.

Each of the upgrades has its own levels, all of which stack, so while only three separate upgrades will give you full armour, it’ll take ten individual purchases to max-out the rocket booster and each new upgrade tier costs considerably more than the previous, so you need to make sure you kill as many zombies as possible if you want to earn enough moolah to pimp your ride to the point where it can survive the entire level.  If you run out of fuel mid-run, it’s back to the garage for you.  Take so many hits that your engine gives out entirely, it’s back to the garage.  Progress too slow to the point where the game can’t be bothered waiting for you to get to the end… back to the garage.  Even though some of the upgrades carry a hefty fee, the in-app purchases of additional cash aren’t necessary as you’ll always be given the opportunity to earn more by simply watching a video, so if you’re willing to give up fifteen seconds of your life, Earn To Die 2 can easily remain free.

Making your way across the map is a relatively simple affair, mechanically speaking.  Your on-screen controls are accelerate, tilt left, tilt right, and an extra icon to engage the rocket booster once you upgrade to that particular feature.  With so many ramps, obstacles, drops, and gaps it’s very much akin to Trials HD in terms of maintaining the right balance and not ending up in a pile of rancid decomposing flesh.  The only difference is that if you do absolutely nothing in Trials HD and rely on speed alone to get you to the end of the level, it ain’t gonna happen.  I haven’t tried it myself, but I suspect that the pseudo-physics of Earn To Die 2 are such that you could quite easily hold your finger on the accelerator, never tilt or boost, and you’d still eventually reach the end.  As a casual game, however, that’s not surprising and isn’t exactly a negative.

Perhaps it’s being over-analytical, but I saw Earn To Die 2 as something of a social commentary, reflecting life insofar as you have to strive and work as hard as possible to get to the end of each level, spending as much as you can to survive and then once the next level kicks in you’re ‘awarded’ with an entirely different vehicle with no modifications and you’re effectively starting from scratch again.  The only way to enter a new level and immediately upgrade your new vehicle is if you refrain from spending much on the previous level and maybe summon an angel to wave his magic staff and ask for angelic hordes to come forth.  So, it’s pretty safe to say that you won’t have a great deal of cash available to you when the new vehicle comes around and those several steps forward are rewarded with a little kick backwards.

That’s not to say that Earn To Die 2 isn’t an enjoyable affair, because it is.  It really is.  It’s one of the few games where I’ve sat down and completed it in only two sittings, which was perhaps three or four hours in total.  It may have been the draw of the Metal Slug / Shoot Many Robots-esque graphics, the fact that one of the cars ended up looking like Doc Brown’s DeLorean after it reached maximum upgrade status, or the fact that I was usually travelling fast enough not to notice that it was a zombie game.  Either way, it was one of those rare can’t-put-down games, and that genuinely surprised me.  It’s highly recommended if you want a little eye candy, don’t want to shell out on in-app-purchases, and don’t mind the fact that there’s zombies everywhere.

  • Gorgeous visuals
  • Performs brilliantly with no lag or frame drops
  • Simple gameplay so you don't need to put much thought into it
  • Good range of vehicles
  • You don't notice the zombies
  • Not sure if the physics makes any difference
  • Can be tough to start from scratch at the start of each new level
  • It's not an actual DeLorean, dammit

Every once in a while, a game will come along which surprises the hell out of you. It may look infantile, pointless, and even boring, yet there's something about it which turns all that on its head - a hook which pulls you in and keeps you dangling on the line, and Earn To Die 2 is one such game.

With an extremely clean and well-drawn presentation, a wide choice of vehicles, and the opportunity to be bitten by the 'one more upgrade' bug, it certainly has a lot going for it. A lot more than expected, especially for a free-to-play title.

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One Comment

  1. Chris Chris says:

    Excellent little game. Downloaded it last night. :)

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