Dead Nation Review
The current huge trend in everything it seems these days is either vampires or zombies. Since I care less about vampires, and seeing early screens and video of Dead Nation, I was curious to know how the Smash TV style gameplay would still feel after all these years.
On the surface, Dead Nation is simply a single/co-op top-down shooter where the goal is to survive by using weapons, the environment, and strategy to survive the hordes that are attacking you each second of the title. Even when you can’t see them, you can usually hear them in the distance. But underneath the simple premise, it becomes a very strategic title that requires quick thinking and MacGuyver-like intuition.
By killing zombies, players earn money to purchase and upgrade weapons while armor is found throughout the level that is mixed and matched for the best possible combination of strength to stamina. It helps to be a tank until you’re just using an assault rifle against closing mobs of zombies.
The difficulty moves at a good pace by slowly introducing new zombie types from the standard slow moving pedestrians, then to zombies that run, then to zombie tank-types, and on and on. The difficulty lies in that these new types are introduced on top of the zombies you have previously faced and it’s not uncommon to be backpedaling while firing every single weapon possible to survive just a little longer.
The visuals of the title assist in creating an erie mood with most of the lighting pulled from the environment, but a few times each level, blacks out with only the player’s gun-mounted flashlight providing any sense of direction. Even though the title has a pulled-back perspective, it’s easy to see a lot of detail went into each level. The linear nature of the stages helps with strategy, but sometimes even a sub-machine gun and grenades can’t stop them all.
The audio of the title flows beautifully through surround sound, creating an audio bubble that provides clues and creates a good amount of tension.
Dead Nation is about survival and using the tools provided. Moving through the title opens new weapons, all of which can be upgraded in some fashion. The familiar “slow but powerful” and “fast but weak” are paramount in understanding which weapon is best in different situations. It’s like an equation that leads to life or death. The environment is also a weapons by detonating abandoned cars or gas tanks around levels. Smart players will create traps, chaining exploding cars together to save ammunition.
Also supporting co-op, Dead Nation is all about statistics, which the title collects all around the world. Later levels are very difficult in single player and having a partner to flank or corridor zombies is especially helpful.
Dead Nation is a title that provides an excellent experience for single player, but works best with co-op. Being the fastest and most accurate will get you far, but playing smart might gain a couple extra steps.
Review Copy Provided By Publisher