As part of the “Welcome Back” program initiated by Sony, owners of a PS3 or PSP were allowed the choice of several games to download for free as part of Sony’s apology. If you don’t know what I am talking about, it has to do with the Playstation Network being down for an extended amount of time (couple of months..) and Sony making amends by giving players some free shit. Regardless, a top down dual toggle shooter was available to download entitled Dead Nation. I knew that the game was at its core a zombie apocalypse title and was created by Housemarque. Housemarque was the same company who created Super Stardust HD and that is still one of my favorite downloadable games to date. Its gameplay is not required of me to discuss but it was a difficult game that felt rewarding when beaten and provided some spectacular high definition visuals. Little did I know that Dead Nation would not be the next Super Stardust HD for me with a zombie twist.
First off, I downloaded a game about a half a year ago called, Zombie Apocalypse and it sported the same formula that Dead Nation has. The view is top-down and the character moves with the left toggle stick and aims their weapon with the right toggle stick. If you played that game then you played Dead Nation. At first, the game is a rather fun arcade title that gives you a break from the plots and sub plots of the bigger 1st party developers but about 15 minutes in, you feel you played all that Dead Nation offers. It has you running from point A to point B killing similar looking zombies over and over without any sort of element to break the monotony. At the beginning, the game shows you how to interact with the environment to kill more zombies and then tries stress the point that this won’t be your typical shooter. After a few brief tutorials, the game just makes up its mind that hoards of zombies are more entertaining. Wrong! If they would have kept up that interaction, it might have the made the game worth recommending but sadly you only get a break from the action maybe once in a level.
Dead Nation is also an ugly looking game filled with browns and grays. This surprised me because Super Stardust HD is very colorful and eye quenching. Not only is it ugly but it’s really fucking dark (not emotionally but visually). I had to kick the Gamma bar all the way to the right so I could see the street. Yeah, STREETS! There is way too much time spent in an urban setting and it all looks the same, like you’re running through one big level. GAH! And the story….the story! At least Zombie Apocalypse had the decency to not include any cookie cutter zombie survival storyline but you can just skip them, so that’s a plus.
I know I may sound a little harsh but I just get tired of recycled games and mediocrity. There are still some good aspects. The weapons are rather interesting and pack a punch when used (the flamethrower being my favorite). I really love RPG (not rocket propelled grenades) elements in games no matter what and Dead Nation still proves that. At the end of every level you can spend the money you have found throughout your journey on upgrading your weapons and buying ammo. Sounds a little trivial but it made coming to the end of a level rewarding. To be fair I did get it for FREE but I think the price tag is $9.99 USD and it is not worth that much, maybe $4.99. You can play with a buddy too and that makes it a little more fun (or passable) but there is not much here to really suggest to you. It does give you something to do if you have a little time to spare but there are so many other fun games out there. Pick up Dead Rising 2 instead, even though it’s not amazing at least it’s a lot more entertaining.