Dead Nation [Video]

Dead Nation
Dead Nation Cover
Platforms PlayStation 3
Genre Geometry Wars 4 Dead
MtAMinutes to Action 1
Keep Playing? Yes

Don't look now, but it's been nine months since reams of personal info and credit card numbers were stolen in the the Great PlayStation Network Hacking. Seeing as how I don't have any suspicious charges to my credit card, I think I can breathe easy. And hey, I got a couple of free games out of Sony's negligence!

One of the games I received in exchange for the breach of my security was Dead Nation, yet another zombie game with "Dead" in the title. I think we're all a little tired of the undead scene, but I don't see this "fad" fizzling out for a long while. So let's not whine too much and enjoy the good that comes of it before we can move on to the next craze (cowboys, maybe?).

A twin-stick shooter with online co-op and flashlights-in-the-dark scares, Dead Nation might be a nice change of pace from the neon insanity of Geometry Wars and other giants of the genre. An hour of blasting reanimated corpses into bloody gobs later, I'm ready to say that the game is good. How good? This good.

- The controls offer a few more tactics than the move-and-shoot of other twin-stick games without sacrificing the intuitive simplicity. The left stick still moves and the right stick aims, but each shoulder button is a different attack: gun, knife, grenade, and a dashing charge attack to escape the horde. It's especially satisfying to hold the rifle trigger and charge a power shot, blasting through a line of zombies when released.

- Dead Nation is no horror game, but it doesn't lack for tension. Strafing down an alley of corpses, waving the flashlight back and forth through the fog is just the right kind of suspense between the heart-pumping shootouts with hordes of walking dead.

- The loot, combo, and upgrade systems are simple enough that the game doesn't bother with tutorials. Kill enemies and avoid damage to build your score multiplier. Open chests and vehicle trunks to find armor and money for upgrades. Spend that money to make your guns stronger, faster, et cetera. Dragon Age it's not, but the bits of complexity available are welcome.

- One area where zombie games tend to fall short is variety: even Left 4 Dead's family of shambling bodies didn't hold my attention for long. Dead Nation has a few variations on the traditional zombie, but none with any novel twists so far. Time will tell if the enemy variety holds up or if the challenge never changes.

- The story is...well, a zombie apocalypse. Something about biological weapons and riots and whatnot. But the main character's name is Jack McReady, so I don't feel too bad about forgetting the details.

Minutes to Action: 1

Would I keep playing? Yes. Dead Nation is the bowl of porridge that's just right. It's not a horror game, not hyperactive, but pieces of both that make an interesting combination. It might get old, zombie games tend to do that for me, but I've got a pretty good feeling about this one.

Dead Nation Art_0

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