An experienced Dead Nation player will also want to use the environment to their advantage throughout the game as well. Car alarms can be set off to attract the hordes as well as vending machines which can be forced to malfunction and create a diversion; unburned cars can be shot up in order to trigger and explosion which will cause massive damage to anything moving around them. Your firepower will not get you through the quest alone; you will need to make the best of your surroundings and the tools it provides as well. Gamers will also find it important to use the physical layout of the levels in their best interest; debris and bodies scattered throughout the levels will slow not only the player but also the undead. Whether or not it is scattered shopping carts, piles of dead bodies, or half-opened gates, gamers need to be cognizant of the effect the environment will have on them and their enemies. If you are not careful, these sorts of things can put you in a serious bind but smart players will find ways to use them to their advantage such as creating choke points for the mobs which will allow you to manage then in an “orderly” fashion.
All of these factors create an incredibly fun and fast paced gameplay experience that can get become incredibly difficult over time, even at the standard / normal difficulty level. Once you complete the game, you will gain access to additional difficulty settings that will up the challenge exponentially. You will also unlock various artworks throughout your adventure as well which is viewable from within the game’s option menus. The Dead Nation experience is playable both online and off with one other player; in addition to the standard game experience, Housemarque has also included a pseudo “metagame” that places the different regions of the world against one another in a competition to clear “cycles” of zombies that will be reset from time to time. As cycles are completed and the rankings come in, additional challenges may be made available by the dev. If nothing else, it provides a nice little bit of competition for you and your international friends.
Technically speaking, the game looks and sounds absolutely amazing. In order to truly appreciate the graphical prowess of the game in particular, you have to experience it and see it in motion; motionless screenshots just do not do the game justice. The focus that Housemarque put on the use of light (or lack thereof) and shadows in the game really creates an unmatched atmosphere that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the game. Add that to the interactive environments including blowing trash and scattered debris and astounding weather effects... it is just a very beautiful game top to bottom. Dead Nation also uses a wide variety of enemies throughout the course of the game which never gets monotonous. The monotony of the enemy variety is something that often hampers the experience of a game like this; sure, you will notice quite a few character styles reused but never to the point where it becomes noticeable or annoying. There is a wide variety of zombies throughout each of the maps and many of them are designed in the context of the surroundings that they appear. You could see a swarm of hospital patients or perhaps even soldiers or prisoners, depending where you are in the game, which all makes sense and creates an enjoyable and natural flow for the player(s).
The soundtrack is equally as stunning with a rocking score that ramps up with the action of the game and a fantastic lineup of sound effects for all of the various weapons and explosions. All of these aspects create what could be one of the “creapiest” environments ever created in a game. It is very hard to describe the tension that the game builds up when a player is strolling down a deserted alley, only to here a door bust open and a seemingly never ending stream of zombies explode out, running at you... just like when the first time you experienced a rushing horde in Left 4 Dead. There is a polish found on Dead Nation that other games could and should study and make note of.
Dead Nation is the type of game that I could play over and over again. While the concept is simple on the surface, there are so many different ways that gamers can approach the game that allows players to go through a new experience nearly every time they boot it up. Thanks to an incredible technical foundation, a deep weapon customization system, and a quality AI system, gamers who choose to enter Housemarque’s apocalyptic adventure may find their selves occupied for quite a long time.
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* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Dead Nation is a remarkable game and easily one of the best PSN titles available. The game stands shoulder to shoulder with the Left 4 Dead series as the pinnacle titles of the zombie-game genre. If you even remotely enjoy slaying zombies, do not hesitate to buy this game.
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