Released in late 2010, Dead Nation was a bit of a surprise from developer Housemarque of Super Stardust fame. It was a pleasantly enjoyable twin stick top down zombie shooter that impressed fans and critics. It garnered millions of extra fans when it was part of the Welcome Back program from Sony after they had restored the PSN service. With this expanded fanbase it was a no brainer that DLC would be released and it arrives in the form of Road of Devastation.
Being a fan of Dead Nation I was a little puzzled by the Road of Devastation DLC. Instead of a new chapter or prequel mission this is a completely new standalone experience using the Dead Nation framework. In this mode, which can be played solo or in co-op, has you embarking on a test run through a road that starts and ends in a cloning facility.
When you start the Road of Devastation mode you awake in a room with a number of cloning tanks and prone versions of yourself. Instead of an intriguing story about the cloning and who your character is, you are presented with a path out of the facility and proceed to fight through hordes of zombies. The hook with this mode is that you start with minimal equipment and you can choose your path as you start down the road. Options available are weapons, explosives, money, health, armor, and score.
When you pick a path you basically run through the area and kill hordes of zombies as usual, but there will be a special chest or purchasing area that suits the path you took. For example, if you pick weapons you get access to a weapons store and you can choose to unlock one of the available weapons. From this point on you can spend earned money on upgrading that and any other weapons you have. Once you finish that path you re-enter the cloning facility and round two begins. This time you need to choose a new path (the one you took is locked for one round) and blast your way through slightly stronger zombies.
That in a nutshell is the entirety of what Dead Nation: Road of Devastation has to offer. It is somewhat like Horde mode in other games; you continue on choosing your paths, upgrading your weapons and fighting ever stronger enemies until you die. Once you die the game is over and you are scored on your overall skill during the test.
To help you on the way, Road of Devastation also offers a new auto turret item and some tweaks to the zombies to spice up the action. There are also new points awards for multikills that get better the more zombies you take out.
I loved Dead Nation and the action is just as great in this DLC but some minor issues make it a less compelling experience then the main game. First is the fact that there are no checkpoints or saves between rounds. You need to commit to playing the Road of Devastation in one sitting. I understand that saves could ruin the tension of one death and it’s game over, but checkpoints that erase if you die would have made this a better experience. I don’t always have a solid hour to play and more then once I have shut it off mid-round and that is a shame.
The fact that there really is no explanation for this road or the cloning facility is also a bit annoying. While the story of Dead Nation was minimal, it was still there and this DLC is literally a standalone and unexplained addition to the world.
All that being said, this is the same great Dead Nation gameplay with some added tension of the scaling monsters and ability to choose your progression somewhat. If you have the time to sit and play a few rounds you are bound to have fun. As you get into the higher rounds the monsters are tough, come in huge waves and really make you sweat in order to survive. The game still looks great and at the price there is a lot of value and fun to be had in Dead Nation: Road of Devastation.
Dead Nation: Road of Devestation is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Violence.