|Pub: Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Release: November 30 2010|
|Screen Resolution: 720p - 1080p||Blood and Gore, Violence|
by James Trujillo
With zombie games being all the rage these days, it was only a matter of time before another one was added to the ranks. This time it was Finnish developers Housemarque who have been infected. With a history stemming from the Stardust franchise, a popular arcade-style shooter from back in the Amiga days, it was only natural they stick to their roots with their newest IP, Dead Nation.
You might be thinking that another plot about a zombie apocalypse is redundant. Well, youre right. During my play time through the demo, I didnt see much you probably cant already guess at. Its been over a year since the outbreak; the main character is immune from the disease; and everyone he knows and loves is dead. Throw in some blood and gore, and there you have it. But, when was the last time you played an arcade game for its story? Those quarter-guzzlers were all about gameplay, and there is certainly no difference here.
This dual-stick shooter may not seem like it at first, but it can give you plenty of hectic moments when fending off its sneaky AI. Not only are the zombies plentiful in number, but they can launch surprise attacks from rooftops or charge from nowhere out of shadowy corners. It can get especially frantic when these ambushes happen during an oncoming zombie rush.
There are also ways to counteract these moments of impending doom. You can cause distractions that will keep zombies occupied at a moments notice, and even set a few traps. Setting off car alarms is one such way, and you can cause cars to explode if you unload enough bullets. Vending machines are also good for drawing away some unwanted attention, but destroying them also sacrifices the important health packs within. There seems to be quite a few strategies when surviving the zombie apocalypse, and snatching up some weapon upgrades will only increase your chances.
Each zombie kill grants you a bit of cash to spend at your local weapon shops. These shops not only serve as a place to buy and upgrade weapons, but they also double as checkpoints for each level. You can purchase anything from shotguns and grenades to flame throwers and flares, along with various stat boosts like power, rate of fire, and clip size. You can also find large crates scattered throughout levels that contain armor upgrades. These armor pieces can be applied at shops to boost your strength, endurance, and agility. Depending on your play style, you can equip any number of armor combinations to suit your ever-changing needs.
I did get to spend a decent amount of time with the demo, but unfortunately none of it was with the games multiplayer features. Being that its an arcade-style shooter, this has to be where the game really shines. It fully supports both online and localized co-op for the campaign, but for some reason is absent of any other game types. Its a shame, because this game is ripe with potential when it comes to multiplayer and seems to be begging for just a few more options.
The graphics look decent, and the game has an isometric viewpoint that lends itself to more detailed backdrops. Cutscenes come in the form of voiced-over artwork panels, very similar to a comic-themed narrative, and the audio feels solid. The music doesnt do much to add to the suspense, but its definitely not something that will hinder the experience either.
Dead Nation has the potential to be a very solid PSN release. The gameplay is fun, and the addition of a co-op partner (I would assume) can only make things that much better. If its success can warrant more additions to the multiplayer component, then the overall experience could be even stronger. Besides, no one wants to go through a zombie apocalypse alone, right?
If youre the kind of person that latches onto story as the main draw for a game, then you should definitely look elsewhere. Even though I didnt get to see many plot details, I cant imagine that it would be worthy of a movie remake in the distant future. Also, if youre not already a fan of dual-stick shooters, then the controls might take some adapting at the start. However, once you get through the initial adjustment stages, there are plenty of good times ahead. The release window is set for Q4 2010, so if this game isnt already on your radar, then now is as good a time as any to take notice.
CCC Freelance Writer