When Dead Nation shuffled onto my review schedule, my first thought was: “Another day, another zombie game, yadda yadda yadda.” A visit to the Dead Nation website did little to convince me that there was anything different about this downloadable Playstation 3 game at first: “It started without warning…eradicate the infection…know your enemy…” Ooh, how scary! -yawn-
“Blah, blah, blah, just gimme my shotgun already, and let’s get to work” I thought to myself. I internally dismissed Dead Nation as another attempt to cash in on the current zombie craze. After suppressing another yawn, I watched a gameplay video. My eyes soon widened and a smile formed on my face as that negative first impression was quickly thrown out the window. I now WANTED to play this not-quite-just-another-zombie-apocalypse game.
Dead Nation is your father’s zombie apocalypse game. It was developed by Housemarque, the creators of Super Stardust HD, and like that game, Dead Nation is also a top-down rotational shooter. You pick either a male or female character and quickly get to blasting. The story, such as it is, is told by cut scenes in between levels, but its barely worth mentioning. Your character is apparently immune to the zombie virus and is just trying to stay alive.
Small Brains Welcome - Like the arcade games that inspired it, Dead Nation is simple to play. You move with the left stick, aim with the right, have two weapon types and a melee attack for when the zombies get a little too up close and personal. A flashlight that shines where you happen to be facing is a big help when it comes to aiming.
Pretty Brains - Even though you’re looking down at it from a distance, Dead Nation looks great, with highly detailed graphics. Lighting and weather effects add greatly to the atmosphere. The number of zombies the game throws at you at once is amazing and yet, terrifying at the same time. On the flipside, watching zombie parts fly everywhere after blowing up a large group is very satisfying.
Two Brains Are Better Than One - Two-player co-op online and offline modes are available, bringing up the inevitable question of who gets to play the female character.
Boom Sticks for Sale - As you blow away the undead hordes, you are awarded cash that can be spent on weapon upgrades and ammunition. New weapons are unlocked as you progress through the game’s ten levels. The guns have many different attributes that can be powered up.
They Die, You Multiply - You have a score multiplier that increases as you kill zombies and decreases when you get injured. The multiplier resets to 1 when you get killed, so if you want to maximize your score, you’ll need to keep away from the horde as best you can. The multiplier even carries over from level to level.
Tough Brains - Even on Normal difficulty, Dead Nation got quite difficult at times, especially when the larger ‘super zombies’ started showing up. Super zombies take lots of damage before going down, and can dish out some major pain. It was pretty easy to get overwhelmed in single-player.
Armor What, Now? - You have different parts of armor that can be used to buff up 3 attributes: Strength, Endurance, and Agility. Armor upgrades cannot be bought, instead they are found throughout the game’s levels. Unfortunately, just what Strength, Endurance, and Agility are for is never explained. Now, I’m sure somebody will figure it and post it to GameFAQs, this is the second time I’ve come across this in a downloadable game (Gladiator Begins being the first) and it is just as inexcusable here.
Developers, if your game is not going to include an instruction manual, make sure that all gameplay elements are explained IN THE GAME ITSELF.
Long Levels Make For Tired Brains - Before you start a new level, the game warns you that if you quit the game in the middle of a level, your score multiplier will be reset. The reason they give you that warning is because the levels themselves take a decent time to play all the way through, especially when you are exploring them for the first time. This kills a bit of the ‘pick up and play’ aspect and it can get frustrating to have to replay a long tough section over and over again.
Dead Nation is a zombie game that abandons the third dimension in favor of providing a more arcadey experience. The game looks and plays great, providing lots of action as well as crap-your-pants moments when hordes of zombies suddenly race onto the screen. The extensive weapon upgrade system allows you to customize your loadout to suit your style of play, and you can have a friend join in the zombie-blasting fun as well. Levels that can get to be a little too long and a difficulty level that’s kicked up a notch (even on the deceptively named ‘Normal’) are the minor flaws in an otherwise fun game. If you haven’t burned out on zombies yet, and want a fun co-op game, Dead Nation is the game your delicious brain has been looking for.
- Eduardo Soliz
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article id: 2127 | poster: OG