Dead Nation is a new benchmark for zombie based games. Developed by the talented developers at Housemarque, the team behind super hits like Super Stardust HD and Gold Tee it Up, have produced a game which can go down as one of the best if not the best game ever to line up on Sony’s online network. Dead Nation takes place in a fictional world that has left the entire population infected with a zombie virus. But fortunately for the sake of this world, two people have survived, Jake McReady and Scarlett Blake. Now when the game begins, you are allowed to play either character, but to be honest it really does not matter which character you select as you are going to follow a pretty similar story line structure for both of them. But again, story is completely secondary here since the game rocks where it has to, and that is the amazing over the top zombie killing.
Now before I get in to describing the game play, I will like to state that I had assumed Dead Nation will be a walk in the park. But I am glad to reveal that it is not. It’s engaging and exciting as any of its console counterparts…say Dead Rising 2. Housemarque have used an engine that allows them to generate hordes and I mean “absolutely” hordes and hordes of enemies at a single time. So how the hell are you going to survive? Yes it’s challenging and daunting, but it’s not impossible. When you begin the game, you will be “weak”, meaning you will have access to just your Rifle which is good enough to take down a small fleet of zombies, but as you clear area by area you will have access to more bad ass weapons via a number of intelligently placed weapons shops in the game.
In most zombie based games, you have two options. Either save your ass from the zombies or blow them off. In Dead Nation you have no option at all but to kill every one of them. This is surprisingly the core aspect of the game play as killing zombies will give you orbs which can then be used to unlock new weapons and their upgrades. Now this is where things get important, you “need” to upgrade weapons in the game otherwise you simple won’t survive the zombie onslaught. For each weapon you can either buy ammo for it, upgrade its rate, power, range and maximum ammo capacity. This is unbelievably addictive and I found myself continuously searching for more zombies and killing the hell out of them so that I can buy new upgrades for the weapons. The developers have made sure that the weapons in the game are interesting and hence they have included some really cool weaponry. You start off with your standard rifle which can be triggered by pressing the R1 button for a bit longer and you can burst the head of a zombie. Now the fun part is that if 4-5 zombies are standing in the line of sight and you charge your rifle, you can take all their heads off with just a single shot! Next up is the SMG which was my life saver when I found myself surrounded by 30-40 zombies. As you play through the game you will find more cracking weapons in the form of blade launcher and flame thrower. The flame thrower is kind of a tricky weapon, yes it can take down enemies easily, but if you get too close to the burning zombie you will get yourself on fire too!
Other weapons include the amazing shot gun, blade cannon which will disperse blades in your field of vision. There are other deployable items too in the form of grenades, mines, fire grenades and others. All in all, if you plan on finishing Dead Nation you should be packed with all the weapons.
Next…ZOMBIESSSS! Okay as with all the games, things are bit easy at the beginning with less and weak enemies. But later on the game becomes extremely challenging with the engine throwing not 10-20 but over 50 zombies at once, some slow, some huge and some really quick! So how do you take them out? As I said before this is not a walk in the park and you will need to think and strategize how you are going to clear ten of these daunting levels. The developers have taken a step ahead in the game…Use your environments. Zombies are susceptible to anything that makes sound or is flashing too much light. Got 45 zombies roaring towards you? No problem, just shoot a car with alarms and as a result all those morons will get diverted towards it and start the banging the hell out of it. The end result? The car blows and those 45 zombies will b shredded in to pieces and a big smile on my face. That’s not all. Zombies will also react if you throw a grenade to them. For some reason they have lost their brains and will follow the grenade should you toss one. All this requires strategic thinking. It easy to get a bit frustrated during the later stages of the game and you may run off from one check point to another one without killing any zombie. But trust me you will struggle in the game if you are not upgrading your weapons at the check points.
The environments in the game are spooky and there are 10 different levels each with their own style. You will be travelling through a park, hospital, graveyard, harbour, highway and more places. The visuals and sound are undoubtedly amazing. The game does 50 zombies at once with zero frame rate issues and impressive lighting effects. The story could have been better and more detailed but seriously it’s just secondary, however it is told via number of pretty looking cut scenes. There are a few issues in the game. Sometimes when you get attacked by a number of zombies and if they get too close to you, they will just stick and the only way to get rid of them is to press the melee button. I am not sure whether this is on purpose, but it was irritating at times. Another thing is that the player may have some visibility issues. I mean it’s easy not to see a zombie in a completely dark environment and you may eventually not know who is attacking. These are small and minor issues which may irritate certain players.
There is also a meta game included which shows how many zombies have been walloped across the world. This categorized in the form of countries, so if you come to think of it, all the players are actually working together to clean Mother Earth from zombies which should throw up some interesting stats when the game releases and people eventually buy the game. And then there is the co-op (online and offline) which is a blast!
Dead Nation is a pretty amazing title and that too at pretty neat price at $14.99. It’s easily the best arcade experience I have had for the year on my PlayStation 3. If you think zombie slaughtering was fun than Dead Nation makes zombie slaughtering an addiction! If you are a zombie lover and a killer too, than you should not look beyond Dead Nation.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
Weapons are a blast, excellent system for weapons upgrading, short and interesting cutscenes, Challenging and at the same time rewarding, slaughtering zombies does not get any better than this, Scary environments, requires strategic use of the environments
Zombies may "stick" to the player; Visibility may suffer at some places.