[Review] Dead Nation
Dead Nation, brought to you by Housemarque, who also brought us Super Stardust HD, is a dual-analog zombie apocalypse game that puts you in control of either Jack McReady or Scarlett Blake. Both characters have been bitten and are immune to the zombie virus and are some of the last remaining alive. You go around using the analogs, obviously, and kill thousands, and I mean thousands, of zombies with a variety of different weapons and techniques. Or you can join up with a partner in either online mode or with another controller in Co-op mode to blow those zombies apart.
Dead Nation graphics are simply brilliant, some of the best graphics I have seen on a PSN game. The atmosphere of dark and foreboding place the earth has become, has been done quite nicely. Walking around under flickering street lights or in dark streets, where zombies jump out of trailers after you, can give you a fright at times.
The detail in the characters is excellent as well. Around exploding cars, and in some dark places, the detail in the character is amazing. The only problem is that some parts of the game are too dark, you do not get to appreciate the detail as much. Also, with hundreds of dead zombies piling up it can be difficult to tell which ones are dead and which zombies are coming for you. Otherwise, most things are extremely well detailed, from fences to zombie heads getting blown off.
Now graphics do a good job setting the atmosphere, but the audio in the game makes it. The creepy background music, and the moans and grunts from zombies make this a beautifully haunting game. Housemarque even did a great job on the sound effects of the guns, from reloading the shotgun, to the electric sounds of the shocker. Even hearing the sounds of zombie heads popping as you shoot them off is done well.
Some of the music and sounds effects will give you some warning, as to when bigger zombies are coming or when a mass of zombies is going to attack. Just listen to when one of the fat zombies is running, its done very well. I believe Housemarque have certainly out done themselves on the sound.
Sadly, there is not a very original story to the game. Typical soul survivor of the zombie apocalypse hears a radio call and tries to get to the rest of the survivors. The story progresses through beautifully drawn cut-scenes, with serious narration over the top of them. As they are only around a minute, you can imagine, after each level there is not much of a story being told.
Now to the main part: game play. What can I say, you go around shooting heads off of zombies, chopping them in half, electrocuting them till there heads pop, or just plain old blowing them up with grenades. The game is just simply entertaining. The controls are basically the same as most twin stick games; not much you can do to improve them, though having R3 to reload was annoying for me, as I kept pushing it by accident, when I would be swarmed by hundreds off zombies.
Luckily enough, the game does allow you to change the controls in option. Dead Nation does run very smoothly as you run around and aim at zombies jumping out from almost everywhere and anywhere. I did find the game accurate and could kill a few zombies at a time with the charged up rifle shot. The rifle being your starting weapon, and the only one with infinite ammo, it sure comes in handy.
There are a few guns in your arsenal to choose from and all can be upgraded with money earned from killing zombies, and finding hidden stashes. There is also equipment to use such as grenades, and my favorite, mines. You also have the choice to change your armor to enhance your strength, endurance, and agility, with more armor available hidden through out the levels.
Zombies. Who knew there could be so many different ones? There are ones with baseball bats, ones with suitcases, guns, massive fat ones that explode, jumping ones, ones that have machetes for hands; even clowns. I could go on but there are just so many, and with variety comes different techniques to kill. Most of the normal zombies are pretty easy to mow down with any gun until hundreds of them swarm you; then you need to start thinking smart, same with any of the big zombies, you will need to learn quickly how to dispatch them or you will die fairly easily.
For people that like to be the best and get high scores, there will be quite a lot of replay value, as there are leaderboards for each country; or you can compare yourself to the world. Can you become number 1 in the world? Along with high scores, there is also harder difficulties to unlock, as well as gallery images. Dead Nation does also provide a platinum trophy to try and get for those trophy hunters out there.
I found Dead Nation to be a fun game that I will play again, once I have finished the story. It does have a couple of draw backs: being too dark at points, repetitive action, and not much of a story. Besides these points, the game has been put together well. With upgradeable weapons, being able to change your armor to enhance strength, endurance, and agility, there are many different ways to play. Dead Nation has a good, creepy atmosphere setting, sounds are done amazingly well, and nice graphics and character details to look at. All of this for $14.99 is not bad at all, or even better at $11.99 for PS+ members. Lastly, just watching and shooting at hundreds of zombies on screen at once is just good old fun.
Co-op and online play
Hundreds of zombies on screen at once
Too dark in some places
Not much of a story
This review is based on a retail copy of the PS3 version of Dead Nation provided by Housemarque.