Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition Review

Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition started life as a PS3 game. It’s now been ported over to the PS4 where it looks and sounds better but plays about the same as it did before.

Which, to be frank, is not all that great at all. Its a good game, but it is held back from greatness by some frustrating game mechanics and the fact that it’s often just so hard to see the enemies you’re meant to shoot.

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Let’s get that last point out of the way first. Yes, this is a survival horror game, so you’ll probably try and tell me that it’s meant to be hard to see the enemies that want to kill you. I take that point on board. But the game is dark. Seriously dark. So dark that even with the gamma options turned al the way up, I was surprised at how well hidden the zombies were in the darkness. Again, I get it; it’s meant to ramp up the tension, but if an enemy isn’t within that narrow beam of light that lets you see what’s ahead of you, chances are you’re gonna get bit. And again, that wouldn’t be a problem under most circumstances, but the zombies in this game tend to swarm and charge at you, rather than shamble, so more often than not, taking damage is frustrating rather than challenging. Some may appreciate this; I didn’t.

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The developers of this game, Housemarque, were also responsible for the Super Stardust games and the PS4 launch title, Resogun. All those games are fun, arcade style twin stick shooters and Dead Nation is too. Which lead’s to the other frustrating thing about this game. As a twin stick shooter, it feels like it should be an arcade style action game. But then they’ve gone and added survival horror on top of it, meaning that at times it feels like the game is confused about what it could, or should be. Central to this confused design is the pea shooter they give you as a default weapon. It’s slow rate of fire makes it difficult to take out those swarms of charging zombies, and its low ammo count means you’re often left to stab zombies with your knife. You can buy upgrades to make it hold more ammo and shoot faster, but you’ll still end up running out of ammo. There’s better guns you can buy, but they too run out of ammo before you know it, and then it’s back to your pea shooter and, eventually, your knife again. There were times when I ran out of ammo and had to run my way through a swarm of zombies. Again, I get this is survival horror, but when the game tries its best to feel arcade-y, it doesn’t sit well within the rest of the game’s context.

The reason this version of the game has been branded as “Apocalypse Edition” is because the developers have added a new game mode, called Broadcast+. In this mode, you stream the game live as you play, and others watching you can vote to ramp up the difficulty, amongst other things, It’s a fun diversion, but you’re not likely to be playing this mode much.

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Overall, Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition is a good game, but not great. It’s frustrating more often than it is challenging, but it has a number of fun “wow” moments that make it worth playing through. It’s not going to win any game of the year awards, but as a free Playstation Plus game, its value is hard to beat.

Final Score: 7 out of 10.

 

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