By: Jeff Cater
Back in 2010, Housemarque released Dead Nation on the PlayStation 3 to mild success. Now, in 2014, they’ve brought the game to the PlayStation 4 with a face-lift and a brand new innovative feature not seen in a console game, with Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition. This package contains the original game along with the Road of Devastation DLC, nominal visual upgrades and a few other innovative touches.
In the PlayStation 3 release, the controls were a bit mushy and felt sluggish and unresponsive at times. Housemarqueseems to have taken notice, as everything feels tight and refined versus the original. A twin-stick shooter through and through, Dead Nation allows you to bind any action to any button, so the controls are as innovative as you make them.
I found that binding sprint to the L2 button and firing with R2 to be the most comfortable. The touchpad goes unused here, but there’s really no practical use for it, so the fact that it was not shoehorned in is a merit. Overall, the controls reflect the care that went into this release, and they feel much better than those of the original in all facets.
The original Dead Nation looked great when it came out, using darkness and light to hide zombies from sight. Now, in 2014, the visuals have been upgraded in resolution and polish. Shadows cast by your flashlight dance across buildings, fire licks at the ground and obscuring smoke pours from freshly detonated vehicles, while gunfire flashes subtly amid the 1080p visual chaos. The animation sets seem to be direct ports from the last version, but they looked great in the first place and being able to see more clearly due to the resolution upgrade is wonderful.
Aurally the game is pretty plain with several variations on the zombie yowl and the typical sounding gunfire. The soundtrack is largely unnoticeable due to the fast pace of the action and the fact that these are some of the most vocal zombies you will have ever encountered in a game.
Dead Nation wasn’t broke, nor did it any real fixing. Housemarquesaid “Fuck that!” and just decided to innovate. As with the original, the global leaderboards are representative of how many players in that country have completed the game, thus clearing the country of viral infections. This can be achieved solo or with a friend via online or couch co-op. Playing through the game with a friend is a remarkably entertaining experience that is consistently intense from start to finish.
The campaign spans 10 missions that take roughly 15-30 minutes each to complete, and there are five selectable difficulties including the brand new “Broadcast+” setting. When a player selects this they’re prompted to start streaming via their PS4. Once all set up and streaming via Twitchthe real fun can begin. During the playthrough, viewers can choose to vote for one of two options: regenerate the player’s energy, or “SUMMON MOAR ZOMBIES!!!111”.
While the latter seems to be the most common choice, it does always provide for hilariously intense gameplay and bragging rights when a screen has been cleared of the undead. With all these zombies spawning in on you at random times you’ll have to make the best use out of the game’s seven different weapons, which are all upgradeable at the game’s checkpoint gun shops.
As mentioned far above, the DLC from the original game, Road of Devastation,is also included in this release and adds three modes: Arcade, Endless and Challenge. Endless is as you’d expect, but Arcade is a servable distraction, allowing multiple paths to be taken through the course of a level.
Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition isn’t the technically marveling type of game that people were expecting to drop on the PlayStation 4, but they’ll certainly be grateful if they give it a chance. New and old players of the game alike will find that the formula of zombie killing plus co-op is never an easy thing to put down.