Road of the Dead: Zombies Need Mowing Down!
About the game
Road of the Dead is a zombie-based action cum driving game from EvilDog and SickDeathFiend. It was released in October 2010 and adds to the long list of flash-based zombie games that seem to be around in the arena currently, but this zombie game has a couple of gameplay-related quirks that make it a very fun game to play and ensure that the monotony that you can now associate with a zombie game doesn't taint this game. Here are some of the key features of this new game:
Road of zombies game play starts with a warning that the game contains violent graphics, and you probably wouldn't expect anything less from these developers (I mean, just look at their names!). Then, if you choose the story mode, also known as "The Great Escape", you are treated to a cutscene in which you're working on the car and then a person on the radio announces that your city is being quarantined and that you should stay indoors. But then the lawbreaker in you correctly tells you to get out of the city and not stay in, so you decide to take your car out for a spin and use your "mad skillz" to get out of the town as quickly as possible.
This is where the game actually starts, of course. You have to navigate your way out of a town full of zombies, but those aren't your only obstacles. See, when the army enforces a quarantine on a city, they make sure that the quarantine is effective. This means that no one gets out. That means you don't get out. In other words, to get out and win, you must fight the army and its entire arsenal of weapons as well as those damned zombies. The fact that you have to avoid (or run over) running civilians pleading for your help on the way out doesn't help matters. It is a bit comic to run over those civilians, but only if you're a mix of Ctulhu and Sauron and pretty much every other evil overlord in business.
The controls for the game are pretty simple: Its 'W', 'A', 'S' and 'D' to control your car, spacebar to brake, 'E' to blow your horn to save whatever civilians you can save by allowing them some sort of warning so they can move out of the way, and 'R' to use your wipers so as to wipe all of that infected zombie blood off of your windshield. You upgrade your car by garnering road points, which you get for moving forwards and killing off zombies. You do, however, lose points for hitting civilians, so being an evil overlord isn't as fun as this game initially makes it out to be.
You start road of zombies from a place called Evans City, where you'll get off easy as you'll only have some zombies, civilians and cars to deal with until towards the end you're spotted by the soldiers and you encounter a few at a checkpoint. The first you'll see of any spike strips will be in the Red Ridge (third) area. These spikes will start moving (what?!) in the next area, also called Burgony Street. The army will greet you in Down Town (sixth area) with bombs, while you'll have to deal with Hellfire missiles starting North Side Park (ninth area). Eventually the soldiers will start evacuating as you keep moving forward, but the bombings and missile attacks will remain and in fact intensify. The final stretch is the Tunnel Drive, where you will be informed that you have 2 minutes to reach the tunnel before you're nuked. You will ideally reach it with 10 seconds left, and will then have to sit through one final cutscene.
In terms of gameplay variety, road of the dead game has three more modes apart from "The Great Escape". You have "Highway to Hell", which is just a harder version of "The Great Escape". You also have "Dead On Time", in which you only have a limited amount of time to escape, but the more zombies you kill the higher that limit goes. Lastly, you have the "Police State" mode, in which you have to face a heavy army presence to escape apart from the regular zombie hordes.
Quite disappointingly, this game doesn't need much of a walkthrough because the gameplay is reasonably basic and repetitive. The helicopters are pretty much the only things that make the game interesting, because you constantly have to keep dodging their bullets apart from dodging everything that's on the road as well. Taking them out isn't very hard though. As you drive on the highway, look out for the green highway signs that appear regularly. As you approach one, get as close to the wall as possible and speed towards it. Your helicopter will crash into the sign and all will be good. It takes two such hits to take out the helicopter though.
There probably isn't much scope for a proper storyline in this game type, but the lack of logic in the gameplay is still pretty appalling. Soldiers and zombies will appear together at time to take you down together, completely ignoring the fact that they should be wiping each other out first. The distances don't add up, the damage-taking capabilities of the soldiers do not make sense. And the worst part is you not being able to physically assault zombies because you "might get infected" while it takes you all of 5 minutes into the game to be covered head-to-toe in zombie blood.
Alas, logic failures aren't the biggest issue of this game at all. No, the biggest issue regarding this game is the gameplay. It is repetitive to the point of being nearly monotonous. The types of enemies change like 5 times over 12 levels, and apart from that the most you have to cope with is increased quantity of those enemies. It's not that the game isn't fun initially, it's just that killing the same kind of enemies coming the same way at you in the same settings repeatedly loses its charm fairly quickly.
Road of the dead is still impressively designed and executed though, and the concept is fairly unique for you to stay interested for a while. The ending is slightly clichéd, but the director's cut version of it in which the mechanic (you) ends up being a zombie himself is much better and probably should have been used originally. Tack that version onto the original and there are not many things to complain about.
Graphics and Audio
When the developers warn you about graphic violence in road of zombies, they are not kidding. There are gratuitous amounts of bloodshed all over the place, and most of it is fun. The detailing is pretty decent too, although the game could certainly have a bit more polished look to it. The most important problem with it all is of course the repetitiveness of the graphics. The sides never change. You will always be following the same straight road with the same buildings on a loop on the side. It becomes really hard on the eyes eventually.
The audio is mostly police sirens blaring in the distance and the whirr of your car, but some of the voicing is great with most zombies that get stuck on your windshield having something different to say. That just helps the game a lot. Otherwise the audio isn't all that special.
Road of the Dead is certainly a good game to spend a couple of hours with, but anything more than that and you'll find yourself stifling the occasional yawn. It could have been much better if the gameplay and especially the graphics had been spiced up a bit with some more variety (like turns in the highway), but you can still enjoy the game despite these issues.