Dead Nation Review

Dead Nation Review
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The Creators of Super Stardust HD Feed Our Urge to Blast Zombies

Dead Nation is a Sony Playstation 3 exclusive and also a downloadable title only. As you can probably guess from the title, it involves blowing away a lot of zombies in the form of a twin-stick shooter. However, don’t let that put you off as the game’s fun.

The game itself is made by the people who created Super Stardust HD, which I believe a lot of people enjoyed. So, that should immediately let you know that you can at least expect a decent game if you played and enjoyed that title. It’s good fun played with a friend as well and there is also a collection aspect that will keep you coming back for more.

Story (2 out of 5)

Dead Nation’s story isn’t original, because you will have most likely encountered it quite often if you enjoy zombie films and games. However, that doesn’t matter. The game’s focus is on blasting away zombies by the hundreds and thousands.

Regardless, the story sees you take control of a man or woman who is immune to the infection that the zombies spread by biting others. When they run out of supplies, they decide to go out into the city and make a run for it while foraging for supplies. In addition, scientists are looking for a cure which makes them interested in the characters you can play as.

It should be noted as well that the two characters you can play as have the same story.

Gameplay - Good Ol’ Zombie Killing Fun That Never Gets Old (4 out of 5)

One of the weapon shops in Dead Nation.

As mentioned previously, the game’s a twin-stick shooter where you blast away hundreds and thousands of zombies. However, the game is actually more in-depth than the average twin-stick shooter. One thing that does need to be cleared up though is that there are no perks for your character to gain. Instead, your character gets stronger in other ways.

While you play the game, you will rummage through the boots of cars and open chests. In doing so, you’ll find gold. This gold can be spent on weapon upgrades that increases their rate of fire, damage and other things at a weapon shop. In addition, you can find armor pieces in the treasure chests that are scattered across the levels. Some of them can be quite hard to find and once they’ve been found, they can be equipped in any mission you play. It doesn’t matter if you go back to play an earlier mission, because they’ll be available. They improve things such as endurance, agility and strength. These armor upgrades make you want to go back to levels and try to find any pieces you missed, because they make you better equipped to handle any challenges thrown your way.

But how’s the actual gameplay? Well, I have one small gripe, which is that I think that the aiming could be slightly better. But it’s a very small gripe and shouldn’t dissuade you from trying the game. The game’s ten levels are all expansive and you will need to use tactics

A look at the weapon upgrade menu for Dead Nation.

to deal with the zombie horde. For instance, cars when shot make a noise, distracting the zombies. The car then blows up and takes them out. You can also use flares to distract them. But the amount of flares you can carry is limited. Ammo is also limited, so it’s a good job that your default weapon has unlimited ammo. It’s actually pretty handy as well. You’ll certainly need to use all the tools at your disposal to deal with the different types of zombies you encounter.

Before moving onto the next section, it was mentioned in the story section that there are two characters you can play as. Should you play through the game as one character and then as the other one, you won’t find that the game plays any differently. The only difference is the character’s gender and obviously their looks. they handle in exactly the same way.

Multiplayer - Do You Need More Than One Person to Outsmart Zombies? (4 out of 5)

The game features multiplayer as well. I find that the game’s quite fun when played in local co-op. When playing with a friend, you can work together to come up with a stategy. As an example, you can stand at opposite ends of the screen and blast zombies. You can decide who uses flares and who takes care of the zombies. You can both specialise in specific types of weaponry as well in order to handle the zombie hordes better. This is a possibility thanks to the fact that you both have your own pool of gold. The game’s also pretty hard at times, so it’s great that you can play with others and it does make your life easier as the zombies can quite easily overwhelm you, especially when they spawn behind and in front of you in great numbers.

Also, both players share the same screen when playing local co-op, rather than having a split-screen. So, while you may not be able to wander where you want if your friend is trailing behind you, it at least means you don’t have to put up with the split screen which I personally prefer.

User Interface/Controls (3 out of 5)

When you’re playing the game, you’ll find that it’s easy to tell how much ammo you have left for the currently equipped weapon. To view

A look at part of the opening cutscene in Dead Nation.

the ammo count for all the weapons though outside of the weapon upgrade menu, you’ll have to press left and right on the d-pad to cycle through them. This also applies to checking the amount of flares, grenades and mines you have. It’s a minor quibble in all honesty though. Also, the weapon upgrade and armor menus are fine, with everything detailed nicely with the exception of the armor statistics not being explained. It tells you what statistics the armor improves, but it’s not mentioned what the statistics actually do.

On the controls front, they’re easily mappable. You can configure the controls however you want, though I find the default settings fine with the exception of the reload button as it’s mapped to the R3 button. As I mentioned in the gameplay section though, I didn’t think the aiming was quite as good as it could be, but it’s again a minor quibble. If you have the sights for a weapon, then you can see where it’s aiming. It’s just that I found that if I had trouble aiming correctly at zombies that were close while trying to retreat.

Replayability - Can Killing Zombies Ever Get Boring? (4 out of 5)

The game does have some replayability, though it ultimately depends on how you find the gameplay. For example, are you bored of games where you kill zombies or do you just not find the game’s shooting enjoyable?

If you do find the basic gameplay enjoyable, then you will find that the game has replayability. Personally, I enjoy playing the game so I have no problem going through the levels again. In addition, you’ll want to collect all of the armor pieces. Outside of this, there’s also the ranking boards where you can try and get a high score. Plus there’s multiplayer and there also different difficulties to work your way through.

Graphics - Killing Zombies Looks Good, Minus the Messy Parts (4 out of 5)

The game’s graphics are good for a downloadable title, but people might find that the camera is positioned a little too high, especially when played from a ways back on the sofa. Also, the environments you play through can seem a little bland and repetitive due to being set in a city. But that’s not a big deal. The lighting and fire effects, alongside the zombie graphics, are good. There can also be a tonne of zombies on the screen at once and it’s satisfying when you kill them and see their remains scattered across the ground.

Ultimately though, it depends on if you mind the birds eye view when it comes to deciding if the graphics are good or not.

Sound (4 out of 5)

A look at the armor upgrade menu in Dead Nation.

On the sound front, I really don’t have any complaints here. The guns sound nice, as do the explosions. The sounds that the zombies themselves make also sound fine and when there’s a rather big zombie coming towards you, you can hear him barrelling towards you.

When you’re only blowing away a few zombies here and there, the music isn’t too frenetic. However, when you get rushed by them as you would in Left 4 Dead, the music is great.

Overall - Enjoyable, Mindless Fun (4 out of 5)

Overall, the game’s a lot of fun. The levels are large and each should take you a while to work through. Even outside of completing the campaign’s ten levels, there is all of the armor pieces you need to collect. With some being easy to miss, that adds some replayability to the game. It also helps that it’s fun to blast away the zombie hordes.