Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Available exclusively on the PlayStation 3 Network
Distributed by Sony Computer Entertainment
Anyone who reads this site can attest to one thing … we love zombies. Having played one for George A. Romero in Survival of the Dead, I have the pedigree around here when it comes to anything pertaining to them. Whenever something newsy comes our way featuring the living dead, I am all over it. I couldn’t be happier to report that, finally, PlayStation 3 owners are getting something to scream about with Dead Nation available for download on the PlayStation Network for just $14.95.
Downloadable games come with a bit of a stigma. People have a tendency to ignore them because they’re not big budget, high priced, disc-based releases; and that’s a shame because I’ve played some games via download that put their software cousins to shame. Even with titles like Dead Rising 2, if there’s been one hole in the PS3’s armor, it’s been a distinct lack of a definitive zombie game. PC and Xbox 360 gamers have long had titles like Left 4 Dead and the like to scratch that flesh-eating itch. Dead Nation definitely fills that hole.
What we have here, kids, is your standard top-down Smash TV-like shooter that takes place in a post-zombie-apocalypse world in which the dead far outnumber the living. All the key elements are present and accounted for – the landscape’s in ruin, sporadic fires, crashed or abandoned vehicles, and quite possibly the greatest number of onscreen deadheads I’ve ever seen in any video game. When these things attack, they attack en masse! There are literally legions of them. When you’re running for your life from what can only be hundreds of flesh-eaters, you can’t help but feel the intensity of the situation.
It’s a good thing that your character is packing heavy on the weapons and armor, because he or she is going to need them. Even better … both are upgradable thanks to points gathered from raiding vehicles or boxes and of course putting the dead back in the ground.
There’s a wide variety of zombies presented here, and these buggers are smart, too. They will grab at you from behind fences, windows, etc.; climb over or burst through objects to make sure they catch up with you; and even drop out of the windows of buildings to try and land on you … their “next meal”! From runners to shamblers to special zombies that are clearly derivative from other games to, of course, boss battles, you’re going to be spending a lot of time getting to know the various forms of the undead.
There’s a lot to like about the proceedings, especially the tone of the game. The story is told through well drawn still panels and quality voice work. This is not a happy game. The situation both looks and feels appropriately dire. You’re not going to find many distracting rock heavy riffs while you’re exploring the game’s many environments; instead you get the kind of ambient soundtrack laced with vintage Dawn of the Dead era Goblin-esque thumping that’s guaranteed to get the blood pumping. It’s truly grim stuff with a high level of action and violence. Knowing Romero, I’m sure he’d approve of the vibe of Dead Nation.
You can play alone or on or offline with a friend via co-op. Think Hunter: The Reckoning in a totally dead world. You can upload your scores and even check the Global Zombie Infection Status Map to see not only where you stand amongst your fellow undead killers but also where your nation ranks. Right now USA is in the lead. Can the rest of the world catch up? We’ll see. This feature is super bitchin’.
If you’re a horror fan, and a zombie-loving horror fan in particular, this game is nothing short of a must buy. I’d have paid a full $60.00 for it and not ever have felt cheated. Trust us; this is the best $14.99 you’ll ever spend on your PlayStation. The dead have arrived. Let the carnage begin.
4 1/2 out of 5
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