Welcome to the Rip Ten Rewind. A massive amount of games are released yearly and many fall to the wayside or are over shadowed by massive hits like Gears of War or Assassin’s Creed. This regular feature will pick a single title at least one year old, 25 or less dollars with a rating above 5. We will not only be reviewing the title, but looking at the game’s impact since release, staying power and overall opinion on the title present day. So grab that ice cold Mountain Dew and prepare for the maiden voyage of RipTen Rewind.
For this rewind we decided to go with the PSN exclusive, Dead Nation. The game was released November 30th 2010 via PSN for the pocketbook friendly price of $15. If you were lucky, this title was one of the freebies due to PSN being hacked early 2011. With the inclusion of Dead Nation in Sony’s welcome back offer, the title reached 3.8 million downloads in 2011 and became a top selling PSN title worldwide. Finnish developer Housemarque was at the helm, with Sony Computer Entertainment handling the publishing duties.
The story follows a protagonist (Jack McReady or Scarlett Blake) as he/she deals with a viral outbreak that has taken over the entire world. The player must fight across varied levels to help a doctor, who claims to be creating a cure, and locate the items he requires. I would give a buck for an original zombie story, not one that is like 95% of the others. Zombies have been hot for years, and will continue to be, especially in video games where we can live out our viral outbreak fantasy. I may complain about a lack of innovation in the stories, but I will play every single zombie title and smile the entire time.
Dead Nation is a game where the camera is pulled up and off center a little giving the player a top down view on the action, which has been used in many games over the years like Diablo and Smash TV. I am not a huge fan of this type of camera because you miss the details in levels and characters. The addition of a zoom feature would have helped the camera immensely. Being that the levels are mostly all dark and so much is happening on screen, I found myself squinting and wondering what my character was stuck on or being attacked by. There are options in the settings to adjust brightness and gamma, but that does little to help what a zoom ability could have saved. The overall look of the game (when you can see) is pretty good. The characters and levels both carry a great level of detail.
The variety of enemies/locales seem a little ripped off. You’ve got a Dead Nation version of a Boomer and locales that are just a bit too much like Left for Dead. I know since the release of this game others have used some of the same stuff. It does not excuse it, but more or less just feels cheap. I especially felt this way in the amusement park when the zombie clowns showed up. I actually called this one out loud before it even happened. I understand the genre is a little loaded and things are borrowed, but again, this just seemed to be the easy way out.
Controls have aged well and the twin-stick shooting works great. This is another area where I think zoom could have helped. I always know what I expect my on-screen player to do, and the visual cue is usually the first clue right or wrong. With a pile of zombies on me and a camera pulled that far back I cannot see what is happening or if the button pressed is executing the move I am expecting. I hate to keep banging that same drum, but where the hell is my zoom?
I loved the leader boards for all of the different countries and how the totals just seemed to keep pouring in. When your country hit 100%, a new infection cycle would start, and the race was on all over again. The game was quite lively upon the initial release thanks to things like this.
Local multiplayer was enjoyable and reminded me of the endless summers spent with a friend hammering away on titles like Smash TV. It was surprising to see how quickly I was matched up for online co-op play. This game will hit 2 years old this fall, so having an active multiplayer community after this long says something. Game play was smooth online and included voice chat, which was absent upon the original release.
September 27th 2011 saw the release of Dead Nation’s only DLC called “Road of Devastation” priced at $3.99. This mode could be considered a survival mode because it really did not expend the main story or game play. Players are focused on continual survival with upgraded paths that end by returning to a laboratory. If the player survives, prizes are waiting for them. If you are over run by the enemy, a restart was required.
So let’s get down to the bottom line here. Is this title worth digging up?
-The game still looks good when compared to current titles
-Variety of weapons and armor mods
-Fast paced old school shooter goodness
-Solid co-op/multi player
-Cool real time world competition by country
-Where is my zoom?
-Over used story, and too much borrowed from other genre titles
-Game still priced at $14.99 on PSN
A Diablo-esqe title climbs into some Left for Dead make-up, and bam, you have Dead Nation. Well… kinda. This is a solid title that will provide hours of shooting fun. Currently, the viral outbreak/zombie story is pretty much a dead horse, but if we keep buying the titles they will keep flogging Old Bessie. I am a sucker for each and every one of these types of games. There is just something exciting in an outbreak of this type, and it allows your imagination to run wild with “what ifs” and “I woulds.”
Dead Nation is a PlayStation Network exclusive and currently available for $14.99.
Click here for RipTen’s full original review.