|Pub: Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Release: November 30 2010|
|Screen Resolution: 720p - 1080p||Blood and Gore, Violence|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
When it comes to being a typical top-down shooter, Dead Nation gets most of the basics right. And when it comes to zombie infestation games, Dead Nation also nails the basics. However, in a sub-genre that is becoming more saturated by the week, I think a little bit more is required of a game than just hitting the basics. And that is where Dead Nation unfortunately falls a little flat.
The game's premise is simple and familiar to fans of zombie games. You play as a male or female lead that has found himself in the middle of the zombie apocalypse and is strangely immune to the bites of the undead. Sure, it's a contrived plot, but games like Left 4 Dead prove that you don't necessarily need an epic plotline to move along a great zombie game. And much like the aforementioned L4D, the plot in Zombie Nation never really moves anywhere exciting, and still-frame plot scenes are barely interesting. Still, at least they aren't long, which is a good thing.
The gameplay in Dead Nation suffers from being too simple, which is more of a problem. You can tell from the time that you fire your first bullet that the developers were trying to create a unique arcade-style experience. The top-down shooting levels are short, with frequent checkpoints and few areas to explore. And while this isn't enough to completely discredit the entire experience, the format of Dead Nation feels a bit too quick to be suited to a console gameplay experience. As I blasted through checkpoints, I felt like I would have gotten more out of the game if there was a little bit more meat on its bones. Though there are certain item drop areas you can check out, they are predictably placed, and the format of the game lends itself to some simple run-and-gun gameplay, especially if you are going it alone.
Another issue that comes up fairly quickly is the quality of the shooting mechanic. Though precision isn't exactly necessary in the top-down shooter genre, the shooting in Dead Nation just feels a little too broad. Making any slight movement on the aiming stick causes your character to flail about wildly, which can cause issues when the zombie horde is right on top of you. After a little while you learn to manage the flailing, but the learning curve is a bit steep, and this problem could have been easily rectified if the game included an adjustable aiming sensitivity mechanic, like so many other top-down shooters.
The shooting itself, however, is pretty good. The game gives you a good mix of unlockable weapons, and your ability to swap between weapons will be critical to your success. Although there isn't any depth to the weapons system, the progression of the weapons (and items) works perfectly. The game also includes a melee function that works well when you are in a tight situation, though sometimes using it leaves you a bit too open to attacks, so I found that more often than not it was just better to sprint through it.