Dead Nation Review

Dead Nation

Banking on the possibility that the gaming world has not yet had its gluttonous fill of zombie tales, Housemarque and Sony have delivered the twin-stick shooter Dead Nation to the PlayStation Network just in time for the holiday season. It may not bring anything new or exciting to the table, but the game packs a solid amount of content in a competent package, presented with the fit and finish one might expect from the developers of Super Stardust HD.

The game centers around the same zombie story we’ve all come to know and love: there’s a viral outbreak, and the protagonists haven’t yet succumb to the macabre plague. In the case of Dead Nation, male and female leads Jake McReady and Scarlett Blake have a genetic immunity to the virus, and are trying to reach a scientist who can use their DNA to create a cure. Standard fare, but it gets the job done through a series of short, animated cutscenes between levels.

What gamers came for with Dead Nation, though, is not narrative, but simple and effective arcade-style gameplay, which Dead Nation delivers. The twin-stick setup here isn’t the traditional one, but is a twin-stick-plus-triggers arrangement that tempers the chaos, provides more options, and allows players to be more precise in their undead defense. The left analog stick moves while the right stick aims, and the four shoulder buttons are used to shoot, melee attack, throw grenades, and dash. The four face buttons have been abandoned in favor of keeping players’ fingers glued to the two sticks, which is important as the hordes of undead flood the dark, dark environments Jake and Scarlett must traverse.

Dead Nation

Dead Nation does not take it easy on players; a cone of light emanating from a flashlight is just about the only thing one can see on the screen, save for a few remaining lampposts, store fronts, and the like, so tension resulting from being surrounded by the unknown can mount to fairly high levels at times. Massive numbers of zombies may bear down on players at any moment, giving the game a somewhat Left 4 Dead reminiscent feeling. There are even a handful of special zombies (like the lumbering fat one who explodes on you) scattered among the standard flesh-eaters. But although the game does keep players on their guard and fighting tooth and nail to survive (like I said, the game’s not easy), fear associated with death is strangely minimal. Dead Nation never affected me the way a horror game might, or even an action title like the aforementioned Left 4 Dead series. It still feels like a simple arcade game in that regard.

Dead Nation does add a decent amount of depth with available weapons and weapon upgrades, which can be purchased at stores waiting at checkpoints throughout the game’s 10 stages. Guns like the rifle, shotgun, SMG (and others, but I won’t spoil the surprises) can be upgraded multiple times in a number of areas, including power, rate of fire, and magazine capacity, and half-a-dozen different grenades make variety the spice of life. Additionally, armor upgrades affecting melee power, damage resistance, and movement speed can be found in tucked-away storage containers and then mixed and matched to protect the protagonist’s hide. This all makes the game feel a bit more customizable and engaging when the zombie blasting begins to inch its way into monotony.

While killing zombies always provides a solid foundation of fun, and using environmental elements like car alarms and gas tanks to distract and obliterate the opposition does mix things up a bit, Dead Nation noticeably ends up feeling like repetition of much of the same activity, and it’s not exactly anything novel. The visuals are excellent for a game viewed from an aerial perspective, especially in motion, with great animations, physics, and lighting effects, and the news-feed integration of online leaderboards ties in well with the game’s fiction. Co-op, as in most cases, makes for a more entertaining experience, and Dead Nation offers both local and online play. At the end of the day, though, this downloadable title is not quite a must-play experience, just a satisfying and enjoyable one.

3 out of 5


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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