Before PAX I didn’t know much about Dead Nation other than it existed and had zombies. As I picked up the controller, I wondered what its gimmick would be to separate itself from the dearth of other zombie games on the market. After ten minutes of gameplay, I quickly realized that it only had one new element: a top-down perspective. Every other aspect of Dead Nation plays exactly like all of the other zombie games that have come out in the past few years.
But that’s not exactly fair to Dead Nation. The tropes of zombies are so engrained in the culture that it is near impossible to fully escape its trappings. Besides its overhead view, the game has a lot to offer despite being a PSN title. First of all, the graphics look great with a lot of detail coming through in every area you reach. The demo level was a typical destroyed city but fallen bricks and other debris shifted as you ran over it and car alarms would sound if the vehicle was shot too much. This actually became a useful tactic, as the alarm would draw all the zombies in the area toward it allowing you to blow it up and them with it. With so many zombies filling the screen, each with a variety of looks, I ended up using the strategy quite a few times. In all, the graphics were good stuff especially considering that the demo version was still in beta.
The gameplay was also a lot of fun with the right analog stick swinging your character’s body around to aim and the shoulder button being used to shoot. A melee was also available for tight spots when you became surrounded. It’s a powerful maneuver but not it isn't smart to use it exclusively as the zombies give as well as they get and you’ll end up dead quick. A limited dash move was also available for quick escapes though I honestly didn’t need to use it too often. There were several different weapons in the demo, all the usual suspects, which could all be upgraded with the money found scattered around each level. It’s a tried and true system but in spite of all this, I still found myself getting bored with it all toward the end of the demo.
I think the major problem was that there was no multiplayer option available for the demo. These types of games are always more fun with a friend. Fortunately, multiplayer is planned for the game at least as far as offline. I wasn’t able to find out how many friends can fight together but four would definitely be the ideal. I was also left clueless to whether the multiplayer will have an online option either. In the end, Dead Nation isn’t a bad game. It just doesn’t feel like a particularly memorable one.
Genre: Dual-Joystick Shooter, Shooter
Release: December 1, 2010
Available On: PlayStation Network (PS3)
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