March 20, 2014 by Paul Curtin
Oddly, one of the best reasons to own a PlayStation 4 at the moment isn’t for its Triple-A titles… it’s for Sony’s ever-expanding library of PlayStation Network arcade games, most of which have been made free to download for PlayStation Plus members. This surge in high-quality low-budget games can mostly be attributed to a little studio known as Housemarque, the same studio that was responsible for what many would still argue is the PlayStation 4’s best game to date, Resogun, and who can now add another successful PS4 release to its record with Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition.
With the game being released first on PlayStation 3 back in 2010 and then having its Road of Devastation DLC released thereafter, Dead Nation isn’t really anything new for PlayStation fans. It’s almost the same exact game on PS4 as it is on PS3, so those who have played it to death already really aren’t going to find any reason in picking up the “new” Apocalypse Edition. But for those who haven’t played Dead Nation before, the inclusion of the DLC and the lowered price is a perfect reason to jump in on the addictive twin-stick shooter right away during the PS4’s triple-A gaming drought.
Dead Nation isn’t heavy on the story; cutscenes are done using comic illustrations with subpar voiceovers between levels, so don’t expect to get attached to the characters. The story is weak because the objective is simple: Survive by killing as many zombies as you can in order to just get to next safe zone checkpoint. But what makes Dead Nation so enjoyable is the fast-paced and frantic twin-stick shooter co-op gameplay that occurs in between said checkpoints. Kill zombies. Get to safe zone. Check your weapons and upgrades. Rinse. Repeat.
Each level throws thousands and thousands of zombies upon players to kill, sometimes even right out of the gate to try and catch players off guard. Housemarque has done a great job by giving the game a great sense of variety. Each level has plenty of cars and hidden areas to loot gold from, different zombie types to be killed, and new weapons, upgrades, and armor to be acquired. Upgrades and armor are simplified to fit with the easy-to-play formula, but with how awesome the many guns are, I just wish there could be more that produced even crazier results.
Working together with a friend in local shared-screen co-op is when the game is at its best. Co-op brings back an old school sense of a forgotten time of classic titles like Zombies Ate My Neighbors and Contra — games that were just fun to play, especially with a friend. Working together is also key to surviving because the game requires a lot of quick thinking strategy. Many mechanics of the game can backfire on the player, such as the flamethrower that can be used to ignite large waves of zombies or catch players on fire by accident, or cars that can be shot till explosion to distract zombies but can also sap a nearby player’s health.
Dead Nation is a great looking twin-stick shooter with near-flawless controls that delivers exactly what you want in a fast paced co-op shooter. The gameplay is simple enough to where anyone can get the hang of it, which is perfect for local co-op where a friend can always join in while at the same time the difficulty can be ramped up for hardcore players. Additionally, an endless mode is available for players who really want to test their skills. With Apocalypse Edition also including the PS3’s DLC and being free for PlayStation Plus members in March, the decision to play the 5-7 hour campaign is a no-brainer. Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition gets 4 out of 5 stars (Great).
- Gameplay is simple, fun, and addictive
- Great controls, camera movement, and art direction
- Shared-screen local co-op is perfect for the genre
- Free to play for PlayStation Plus members
- Story and illustrated cutscenes are weak
- Customization is a bit too simple for hardcore players