Dead Nation Review
- Posted December 15th, 2010 at 11:00 EDT by Steven Williamson
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With its high production values, Dead Nation is a great advertisement for what can be achieved on PSN. This stylish zombie shooter rarely slows down in pace and gets the basics spot-on.
- The slick combat system and great array of weapons
- The brilliant zombie types and character design
- The high production values
- The upgrade system, which could have been more in-depth
If there’s one thing that videogames have most definitely taught us over the years, it’s how to kill zombies. If hordes of the undead ever do rise from their graves and flood our city streets, you can guarantee we'll be among the first in line at our local sports shop to pick up a baseball bat, before heading to the hardware store to buy a torch and a chainsaw. All we’re left with then is how to figure out a way to get our hands on an SMG, some hand grenades and a flamethrower.
However, zombie games have also taught us that it’s not just about having plenty of weapons at your disposal, but it’s just as much about making sure you choose the right weapons at the right time and conserve your ammo for when you really need it. Dead Nation, a multi-directional, twin-stick shooter demonstrates that principle perfectly, by throwing into the zombie melting pot a range of enemies that differ in strength and skill.
From a top-down perspective, gameplay involves moving through the city streets and parks of a fictional town which has been taken over by zombies, mowing them down with a range of upgradeable weapons in what surmounts to a meaty campaign lasting around 8-10 hours on the hardest difficulty setting. You control your character with the left analog stick and aim with the right stick, which controls a torch beam that can also be used as a pointer to light up some of the more gloomier areas where zombies inevitably lurk waiting to pounce. As well as slaughtering zombies, you can search the boots of cars for loot that you can spend at weapon stores to upgrade your arsenal, and there’s an array of armour upgrades to collect to beef up your character.
Combat is basic, but slick and intuitive. You can spin 360 degrees swiftly, switch between weapons smoothly and the torch beam acts as an impressive pointer allowing you to get a pin-point aim on your targets who descend on you rapidly from all four corners of the map. As you kill zombies, you gain multipliers and rack up obscenely high scores that are then paraded on the online global leaderboards for all to see and compare. The bulk of the gameplay involves shooting down zombies, but the feeling of repetition doesn't surface too often thanks to the fact Housemarque has provided plenty of variety in terms of locations and enemy types.
There’s an incredible amount of zombies you need to kill, and many of them differ in look and attack style. There are policeman armed with pistols, tall zombies, short ones, fast ones armed with weapons, and slower ones that you can pick off from a distance. There are clowns, prisoners and a team of American football players. And there are other non-human entities, such as Jumpers, Bombies and Hordes, who behave differently - some running at you arms akimbo, others hopping on top of a coach, leaping off and pounding the floor to send you sprawling on your back. The design of the character models is impeccable and there's enough variation to keep the action feeling fresh.
The levelling up system could certainly have been more in-depth, but you do feel your character getting stronger as you spend money on certain attributes, such as increasing the size of ammo clips, or opting for a faster rate of fire. And as you progress, you’ll see that despite the weapon-set containing a familiar arsenal of shotguns, sub-machine guns and flamethrowers, each weapon does have its merit in certain situations and cements the fact that Dead Nation is much more than just a button-masher.
The shotgun, for example, is perfect for close quarters combat, but you don't want to use it when there's dozens of zombies heading your way. The sub-machine gun, on the other hand, is perfect for spraying into crowds of zombies from a ... (continued on next page) ----
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