Dead Nation: Apocalypse EditionOverview -
Housemarque continues to be a go-to developer for PlayStation. After helping to kick off the launch of the PlayStation 4 with the incredibly addictive and challenging 'Resogun', they're back at it with a focus on porting over their ever-popular PlayStation 3 title – 'Dead Nation'. Having received generally favorable reviews from both critics and gamers alike back in 2010, 'Dead Nation' comes to the PlayStation 4 in the form of a 'definitive edition' – with a few added bells and whistles, and the move seems like a no-brainer (pun intended). But for those who have never experienced the game before, does it set itself apart from what seems like an endless stream of zombie apocalypse titles?
When it first arrived for the PlayStation 3, the visuals of 'Dead Nation' were undeniably impressive. Somehow, the 'Apocalypse Edition' has found a way to make them look even better. The smoke and fog, where previously thick, are even more menacing, making it difficult for your flashlight-mounted rifle to penetrate and reveal hidden terrors. Add to this an increased lighting effect - particularly when there is a flash of lighting – the individual drops of rain on the wet pavement, and chunks of gore from the horde that just ran over your strategically placed landmine, and you'll realize just how well 'Dead Nation' performs at a solid 30 fps in full 1080p.
The attention to detail, especially with the variety of zombies, continues to amaze. The area you are attempting to navigate will generally dictate the uniquely attired zombie that hungers for your flesh. Stumbling across an abandoned school bus may yield a swarm of high school football players still in uniform and helmets. Walking past a destroyed police station will result in an attack by the local police force – some with weapons drawn and randomly fired. My personal favorite is the assault from the clowns and circus performers, appropriately adorned with crazy hair, colorful costumes, and honking noses. This variety and eye for detail took an otherwise common zombie shooter and give it a high degree of personality.
Although the idea of 3D gaming has mostly come and gone, 'Dead Nation' has always been on my list of games that I would love to play with that effect turned on. Watching a horde of zombies attracted to a car's alarm just before it explodes never gets old. Seeing pieces of their bodies flung into the air and at the screen would be a joy to behold in 3D. Just saying . . . there's immersion, and then there's immersion.
Aside from the occasional motion comic cut scene, where you'll hear one or the other characters describing the tragedies of the zombie apocalypse in their most gruff voice, the real highlight of the audio comes from the little nuances you encounter during gameplay. Regardless of how cautious you may be when walking the streets of Zombie USA, you will inevitably stumble through the detritus that alerts the zombie horde of your approach.
Empty cans, glass bottles, the remains of the undead, all deliver realistic sound effects. It was consistently hard not to be disturbed by the squish of zombie entrails under your feet when no other path was afforded. There was a particular moment in the game when my character had knocked over a pile of garbage and the resulting can lid that wobbled in place, echoing off the surrounding buildings, seemed to go on forever. I cringed the entire time.
Housemarque also takes advantage, albeit in a limited fashion, of the DualShock 4's build in speaker. Similar to the voice effects they employed with their last PlayStation 4 game, 'Resogun', a change in weapon or item is announced and vocalized through the controller. If I had to guess, the voiceover they used is identical from one game to the other.
Even though 'Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition' comes with a fresh coat of paint and a few additional bells and whistles, it's still a game that many PlayStation devotees have already experienced. That's not to say it isn't a great addition to the growing list of games available for the PlayStation 4. The developers at Housemarque continue to excel at their craft and have delivered yet another wonderful title that makes use of tight controls while providing solid gameplay. Whether this is your first time experiencing 'Dead Nation' or not, there's no question that the game is worthy of your time.
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