Hello. I've been playing the PZ vehicle branch recently and having a lot of fun with it.
My system is:
Intel Core i5 3.30GHz
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Nvidia GeForce GTX 950
Here's my feedback about PZ vehicles, and a video to back this up:
I've tried vehicles with "proper zombies", and also with variations of lesser zombies. So far, I've played with Easy Use Vehicles switched ON.
Vehicles in general:
I really like the vehicles and find the general "feel" of their handling to be good. I particularly like the way you lose control and skid if you take a corner too fast.
Do vehicles make the game too easy?
In general, I don't think vehicles make the game too easy. In fact: I think they make the game somewhat harder, as you have to be careful with engine sounds attracting zombies. Initially I tried "proper zombies" on a normal sandbox game, and found it difficult to get a foothold (dying after 3 days in two quick, successive games). Then I tried zombies set with low sight, hearing, smell and memory, and a low multiplier on the engine noise attraction. This was definitely too easy, but gave me chance to get a feel for using vehicles without too much panic. I'm currently playing with "proper zombies" senses and memory, and normal (1.0) on the engine noise multiplier, and I'm finding it just about right. That said, I've set population density to high (one down from Insane), because I'm screenshot-chasing for an article I'm writing. I can just about get a foothold, but it's not easy.
I found that I had to change my style of play with vehicles. When driving around, and approaching a building I was targeting to enter, I would leave the car in a place that would lure the zombies away from where I would be running to. The car engine noise would alert them and they would start walking towards me. Then I would jump out and run past them towards my target. I would do the same when approaching one of my safe house too. If there were lots of zombies around I found it wasn't a good idea to pull up right outside a safe house in a vehicle, as this would attract them right to your doorstep.
Generally, performance was good with the vehicle branch on my machine, although I did eperience SOME slowdown, and screen juddering. Not a huge amount - only occasionally. Only once or twice did it interfere with play. I do tend to have other unrelated software running in the background, while I'm playing the game.
On occasion (in my current game), I smash into invisible wreckage in the road. I'm guessing that these are car wrecks that haven't rendered properly. My current game is the only one so far where I've switched on car wrecks at junctions. When I had this switched off in previous games I didn't encounter it. You can also crash into tin cans and other small objects in the road, but then you probably already know this.
I noticed that, in a couple of my recent games, that the yellow taxis were randomly bouncing on their suspension, by themselves. Driving them was okay, but leaving them would set them off bouncing again. I haven't noticed this in my last couple of games (I wonder if this is related to car wrecks being switched on, as my last two games have been the only ones that have had this).
Not sure why, but in my current game there are houses where I can't close the curtains on windows that seem to have curtains. I've not seen this bug in any of my previous vehicle games, just my current one.
I like the vehicle damage so far. It's not too harsh, and driving a favourite car around for a long time does result in a beaten-up motor that looks like it's been through hell. Which is good.
I like that some vehicles stall. Finding a car that keeps stalling as you try to drive away is scary. Even cars that drive well should stall every now and then. But also the majority of cars should just run normally. It's that small, random element that makes it tense.
On a couple of occasions, I've gotten into a car, only for it to stop dead, and then crash the game. When I restarted the game first time this happened the car had disappeared. On other occasions: I restarted and the car was still there, but it was unusable (I could get in, but not drive anywhere).
Suggestions for vehicles:
Killing zombies in vehicles:
The only disappointing thing I found about PZ vehicles was that they were not as effective at killing zombies as I had hoped. Unless you were driving into zombies at high speed, often the zombies would get back up and follow you. I would like it to be easier to kill zombies with vehicles, at least at certain game settings. If I drive into a crowd of zombies at speed with a large vehicle I would expect more of them to be put down for good with one pass, and more to be incapacitated or splattered. If I was driving through them at medium speed I'd expect more to put down for good too, and at lower speeds: more to at least be mangled.
I'd like to see a bit more variety in the type of vehicles you can drive, if possible. As good as vehicles are, they do feel a little samey in terms of speed and handling. The small, Japanese-looking car (one of the smallest ones) is the most fun to drive because it's the fastest and most manoeuverable. Would love to see larger vehicles (buses, trucks and articulated lorries), and smaller vehicles (motorbikes, micro cars like the Dacia Sandaro), although this may be asking too much.
Using the boot/trunk:
Vehicles could be more useful for transferring items between locations. Filling the boot full of planks to take to your new outpost sounds appealing to me. Transferring heavy items between safe houses is a still a major chore.
I think I'd like to see a wider range of vehicle handling types. What you have now is good - I can see and feel differences between the smaller, European and Japanese style cars, and the larger American cars - but I still feel as though a wider range of vehicles would benefit the game greatly, and give the naysayers less to moan about.
The vehicle menu:
Initially it bothered me that the ignition key icon was not in the same place every time I brought the vehicle menu up. But then I thought that that would be similar to real life (the ignition key hole would be in a different place in every car), so I just learned to live with it.
Getting your vehicle stuck:
I don't think that PZ vehicles can currently get stuck in mud, or driving on grass, or in woodland.
In real life, vehicles would be getting stuck all the time, BUT you don't want to introduce a feature like "getting stuck in the mud" if it's going to make the game hell to play. That said, making it an option in the settings and balancing it so that it happens only occasionally, may add another layer to the tension.
Hitting things, versus not hitting things:
At the moment there are various poles and roadside furniture that you can drive though, without them stopping you. In some ways this is a relief, as having everything "hittable" may actually be a bit of a nightmare. I'm not sure about this.
Tyre tracks in blood or mud. I always play with Ultra Gore on, because I like the drama. Might be fun to see vehicles leaving blood tracks if driving through pools of zombie blood. Or even skid marks on tarmac.
Exhaust smoke from sick vehicles? Sick vehicles that burst into flames? Vehicles bursting into flames because of mis-use?
Stuff I've not tried yet:
I've not tried torching a car yet, so can't comment on what fire does to cars or the surrounding environment. My twisted mind wants to send burning cars into crowds of zombies... This is something I'm going to have to play with.
I've also not tried jumping out of a fast moving car yet. Why have I not tried that? Might be worth having that possible, although I can see it being a can of worms. I guess everything is a can of worms in game development.