In April Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition made it’s way for free to the PS4 via the Instant Game Collection. Having spent several hours playing the original on PS3 I decided to try my hand replaying the game on PS4 but this time in Co-Op Mode, start to finish.
Those who have paid to play Dead Nation on the PS3 might feel begrudged doing the same thing on the PS4. Beside the extra DLC, which you get with the Apocalypse Edition, and the much sharper graphics, there is little to tell the two versions apart. In fact, until you see the graphical differences of the PS4 version versus the PS3 version side by side, you would be hard pressed to tell the differences at all. Yes the image is sharper and the lighting much more effective, but there are no quintessential differences to the main game itself.
But don’t let that deter you. Dead Nation is a typical arcade game with an emphasis on replay-ability. A angled top down shooter, were players must fight their way through the hordes of zombies that block their path. There is a story amongst all this carnage, as our two survivors are completely unaffected by the virus and are attempting to reach a safe haven without being eaten alive. Could they be humanity’s last hope? In typical arcade fashion though, the story is of little consequence and we revert straight back to the killing of zombies.
As this is from the creators of the fabulous Resogun we have a score multiplier that increases with every zombie killed. If you are hit the multiplier starts to go down. If you are killed you can kiss goodbye to those precious points you have been accumulating.
Upon reaching the end of the level you’ll be marked on the amount of Zombies killed, time cleared and loot collected. Achieving a perfect score on all three seems impossible to someone of my limited skill, even in co-op mode, but I soon started to see a pattern to my gaming style. I certainly liked to take my time looting for money and armour upgrades, while killing more Zombies than was necessary. However, that often meant being hours over the desired time limit but you can’t win them all. All of these scores are attributed to a leader-board that is broken up into each nation across the globe. I feel I may have let Great Britain down.
The levels themselves can be quite extensive. Each map consists of several checkpoints where players can spend their money on weapons in one of the mobile shops dotted about. Yes, even in a zombie Apocalypse there are two things which are certain, death and functioning weapons dealerships. Further progression throughout the game unlocks better weaponry. Players start with a rifle with unlimited ammo but soon acquire traditional weapons such as grenades, SMG’s and shotguns.
However, it is the power weapons that offer the most fun. Costing around £100,000 each, players can invest and upgrade rocket launchers, flame-throwers, an electrified arc cannon and a blade cannon. These power weapons certainly come in handy too, as enemies become bigger and badder than the last. Some of these zombies have clearly been experimented on. They are ridiculously huge. Some come with massive bladed limbs that can pretty much kill you in one strike, others can scream to summon more peon zombies. Either way, the power weapons can soon silence these monstrosities, just be careful to be out of range of the blast radius – I found out the hard way.
Difficulties gamers will find is how poorly lit the game is. All of this is deliberate of course, but you can soon run into waves of zombies by accident or wonder why your health is beginning to deplete as one lone zombie, that you somehow missed, is stood right next to you gnawing away. The darkness may be Batman’s ally but it definitely isn’t yours. Manoeuvrability can also be tricky, as it is easy to get snagged on a piece of trash on the street or get caught between zombies that flank you either side. Luckily, if you see overwhelming odds and are low on explosives you can use the environment to your advantage. Shooting a parked car can trigger the car alarm, sending enemies into a frenzy. They charge the car banging it on all sides before it explodes leaving you with mop up duty.
Overall Dead Nation is a great and well polished arcade game with an emphasis on fun gameplay. Playing with a friend locally or online adds to the fun and the game certainly caters for the extra player by ensuring you have a lot more zombies to deal with. Fans of fast, ‘shoot and loot’ games, revolving around a high score, will love Dead Nation. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy popping off the heads of zombies?