By Chase Burgess
It took the ranks of the undead four months to do it, but zombies have finally made their way onto the PlayStation 4. The Mature rated Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition comes to gamers as the free game of the month for PlayStation Plus members who own a PS4. Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition is a top down, arcade style shooter developed by Housemarque Studios and published by Sony. The original version of the game was released near the end of 2010 on the PS3.
Dead Nation’s story is told through the narration of one of the two characters that you can choose from. The story plays out in mostly still frame images between each mission. The game takes place two years after the outbreak of whatever has been turning your friends and family into the flesh-eating army that stands between you and completion of each level. You can play the game as either a male or female character.
The only customization of your character comes in the form of selecting from three different types of armor. The game holds your standard array of zombie slaying devices; the assault rifle, submachine gun, shotgun, and a few creative weapons such as the flamethrower and the blade thrower. All of these weapons are upgradable at anyone of the numerous weapon trucks located at checkpoints during each mission. The weapons are upgraded by collecting gold throughout the levels. Since you receive gold for killing zombies, searching cars, or finding containers around the map upgrading your guns is quick and easy.
However, don’t mistake easily upgraded weapons for an easy game. Dead Nation is far from it. This game really makes you pay attention to your surroundings as zombies come from all sides, and some situations can only be escaped by using the environment to your advantage. One area had me frustrated as I continually died due to the massive amount of zombies attacking me. I quickly learned to lead them into a fire and blow up the cars around them. The difficulty really makes you strategize before entering an area.
Speaking of the environment, the destruction of the city around you is beautiful. You’re not going to get the same graphic quality as you would with a full size PS4 game, but it more than suffices for a PlayStation Network game. The detail in the zombies is also very impressive. You will encounter zombies dressed in business suits, basketball attire, regular everyday clothes, as well as emergency personnel such as EMT’s, police officers, firefighters, and national guardsmen. I always appreciate small details in my games, and the firefighters were given a little something extra that would normally be overlooked. Using the flamethrower, of making the firefighters run through fire won’t kill them because they’re wearing their fire suits. One of the more creepy moments of the game takes place when you have to go through an abandoned circus with undead clowns. Between the music and the zombie clowns, I really just wanted that section to be over. The game also features s the standard array of “super zombies.”
Along with the great environment, the physics are great as well. The zombie bodies get flung all over the place during explosions, and to make the environment better the zombies don’t disappear. After a large battle, you can see the devastation that you and your weapon of choice created, and it can be very satisfying.
Dead Nation brings back on screen coop, which needs to return for many games. Nothing is quite as satisfying as killing zombies with your buddy sitting next to you. There is also online coop if your friend is elsewhere. Dead Nation features global leader boards, where you can see not only who the best zombie killer is, but also what country is the best at zombie killing.
For those of you that owned the original version of the game on the PS3, not much has changed. The game has a fresh coat of paint, and comes with the “Road of Devastation” DLC. Sadly, that’s about it. I really feel that Sony missed a great opportunity with this game. The zombie genre is very popular and Sony is having a difficult time competing with Microsoft on this front. If this was Sony’s answer to Microsoft’s Dead Rising 3, it was a pretty poor response.
As I mentioned earlier, Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition is free to PlayStation Plus members, however for those of you who are not a PlayStation Plus member you can still own it for $14.99. The top down style of the game brought back some great memories of playing games like this on arcade machines in restaurants.
Dead Nation is fun for a while, but with the $15 price tag, it’s hard to recommend this game to non-PS Plus members. The game is essentially a point and shoot title, nothing fancy about it. If you have PS Plus, give it a whirl; otherwise, purchase at your own risk. Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition gets a 3/5.