Dead Nation
| Dead Nation

After three and a half-odd years on the PlayStation 3, Housemarque's top-down zombie shoot-'em-up Dead Nation has finally arrived on the PS Vita. It places you in the role of either Jack McReady or Scarlett Blake (seemingly the only people immune to the virus that's zombified the world) and sees you running through a city infested with the undead. "Another zombie game?" you ask, in your millions. Well, yes. But, as you might expect from the developer of the Super Stardust series, Dead Nation plays is slightly unusual in that it's an arcade-shooter, with its controls focusing on dual analogue stick control - left for moving, right for aiming. The result is a frantic trigger tap-a-thon where you try to defend yourself from hundreds of marauding zombie goons. While you can bash enemies in with a melee attack and dash through undead mobs with the rush manoeuvre, making use of your upgradable arsenal is almost always your best plan of attack.
Maybe... I'll just stay up here... Your default weapon is a rifle with infinite ammo, complete with a particularly useful power shot used to knock down an entire line of foes. Every other weapon limits you to expendable ammo that you can only refill at certain checkpoints. Aside from the tried and tested weapons of your everyday shooter, Dead Nation adds a couple of unique weapons into the mix. The blade cannon shoots out a giant spinning blade that takes out anything in its path, while the shocker is an electric flamethrower of sorts, paralysing, if not frying adversaries. Throwable weapons are at your disposal too, and prove to be very handy indeed when you're in a tight spot. Flares distract zombies, while grenades, mines, molotov cocktails, and dynamite do the dirty work you'd expect them to.
Setting off car alarms makes for a perfect getaway when the going gets tough. As you travel through graveyards, around hospitals, and across motorways, you need to stay all eyes and ears. The entire game takes place at night, so your handy flashlight helps you weave between threats while you reload your weapon. The moment you think you're alone in Dead Nation, the undead pour out of every nook and cranny in droves. They aren't all the same either - aside from the standard zombies there are policemen, firemen, convicts, and even clowns roaming the streets. They're all easy enough to mow down - the ones to watch out for are special, bio-weapon zombies. After a few run-ins with special zombies you'll learn that each type has a distinct moan to listen out for. The greatest threat comes in the shape of the "cutter" zombie, with giant blades for hands, decent defence, and a rush attack that could tear you apart. The "bombie" is your next biggest worry - a portly zombie that explodes once it collides with your character or a bullet - whichever hits first.
Two heads are better than one. It's double the pleasure,triple the fun With such an cache of weapons to hand it's a little disappointing that no bosses turn up throughout the entire game. Even on more difficult modes I found myself saving ammo for some kind of giant pulsating zombo-baddie, but my hopes were dashed when the credits started rolling. While survival is the core element to Dead Nation's gameplay, there's also a strong score-attack component too. This mechanic sees multipliers build up depending on how many of the undead you slay without taking a hit yourself, so if you're one for scoreboards you're in luck. Crates are dotted around each area, with the largest ones doling out both cash and a piece of armour, while smaller crates contain ammo refills, cash, or score multipliers. Checking the boots of cars also offers a little bit of cash, with the added bonus of a car also functioning as a giant bomb once you smack it around a bit.
Endurance is a safe bet when zombies want a chomp. Which is always The armour you pick up can be assigned to your legs, torso, and arms. Each piece will improve your strength, endurance, and agility in different measures, so once you've looted enough of them you can have a character build to fit your playing style. Cash, on the other hand, is used to upgrade the rate of fire, power, and clip size of your weapons at designated checkpoints. The game's ten levels take five or so hours depending on whether you rush through or try to find every piece of armour and pop every zombie head. There's also a co-op multiplayer mode which makes tackling the hordes a little easier, albeit a little laggier too. I was disappointed to find that I managed to get stuck between walls and crates twice during my initial playthrough. This completely destroyed my score multiplyer as I has to quit the game - a shameful oversight considering Dead Nation has been around since 2010. If you're on the market for a zombie-based blaster to while away the wee hours of the morning until your fingers hurt, Dead Nation is a dead good fit. It's just a little rough around the edges considering how long it's had to spruce itself up.

Dead Nation

While Dead Nation is showing signs of age, there's still life in the old girl yet
Danny Russell
Danny Russell
After spending years in Japan collecting game developers' business cards, Danny has returned to the UK to breed Pokemon. He spends his time championing elusive region-exclusive games while shaking his fist at the whole region-locking thing.