The zombie genre is a road that has been traveled down an innumerable amount of time throughout the years, infecting just about every aspect of the media in it’s wake. Recently, people seem to be growing somewhat tiresome of the hordes of the undead, as the recent iterations have shown the genre beginning to grow stale, mainly due to the over-saturation of less than stellar features in both the video game universe and movie-verse. However, there are many titles given the correct amount of love and attention that manage to preserve the thrill and adrenaline of mobs of the evil creatures hunting you down in blood lust. Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition is thankfully given such treatment.
Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition is a remake of the 2010 title of the same name, a top down shoot ’em up, with the inclusion of the previously released DLC and general HD visual overhaul to make use of the PS4’s enhanced graphical capabilities.
While the above praise still stands, there was one glaring element ever present that felt very stale and lackluster; the story. Like most Zombie related tales, it takes place during the apocalypse in an unambiguous city, where society has fallen and the area is ruins. The protagonist (your choice of male Jack McReady or female Scarlett Blake) is a gruff and tough bad-ass, and one of the few remaining survivors due to strange immunity to the virus, who needs to leave their shelter to get food and water, and upon picking up a transmission on a radio they find along the way, we’re informed that a sample of their DNA, and a tissue sample from the first infected human is the key to creating a cure.
It’s a very clichéd set-up, and has been done time and time again, and merely serves as exposition to give justification for you constantly moving to new areas. While the digitally painted stills through which your character narrates over are a very nice touch, as they are quite beautifully crafted, it still doesn’t make up for the somewhat lack luster story. By no means is it bad, or ruins the game, but just dampens what could have been a much more robust experience.
Fortunately though, the presentation is a delightful step up from the story. Environments are crisp and creepy. Deep shadows, bellowing fogs, and flickering lights perfectly set up an ominous atmosphere, giving you the ever present feeling there’s danger ahead. Corpses, abandoned vehicles and building and garbage litter the blood soaked streets, invoking a sentiment that you’re alone, yet a reminder that there a hordes of demonic creatures lying ahead. The graphics are perfectly crisp, which is a godsend for a top down shooter, as everything is clear and easily distinguishable. Zombies come flooding in the hundreds, with no ounce of frame rates dropping, and giving a surprising amount of colour to the dreary surroundings.
Sound design is also handled wonderfully. As you venture through the streets, the eerie grunts and snarls of the evil dead can be heard in the distance, often used as a warning sign for the type of enemies approaching, and during heated encounters, the music suddenly amps up, to match the frantic pace of being vicious hunted. The presentation as a whole, while not pushing the limits of the PS4, is an absolute treat and really gives an added thrill to the game.
However, gameplay is by far it’s strongest quality. 3 modes are available, campaign, arcade and endless mode, with the added option of playing through challenges of each of the areas you unlock as you progress. The entire game can be played alone or through two player on and offline co-op, which is a blessing in the latter of the campaign when things really start to heat up. Venturing through the story mode takes you to each of 10 available stages, while arcade and endless take place in a separate location to the main game,with elements from previous areas appearing, but asking you to choose which road to adventure down, granting different rewards in the process.
Plain and simple, this game is just fun from start to finish. Murdering your way through hordes of thousands of zombies never seizes to be exhilarating, especially as the enemies grow in strength, numbers and types, adding plenty of variety from explosive bombers, to devastating cutters. The difficulty, while having plenty of excruciating spikes, serves up a perfect challenge throughout, even on normal mode. You’ll find yourself either close to death constantly, or dead, the closer you are to the end of the game. It perfectly captures the sensation of emergency and panic you would find backed up into a corner, on the brink of death and pouring your ammo out by the mother load as a last ditch effort to survive the hungry undead clamoring in droves towards you.
Overall, Dead Nation: Apocalypse edition as a wholly entertaining package. Aside from fighting for your life, there’s a reasonable amount of exploration to be done to find a plethora of money, armour and mementos from the developers, and extra added art to divulge yourself in. With hours of fun and plenty of replay value in the harder difficulties, and online leaderboards, I can easily recommend this title. At €15 or free if your a PlayStation plus member, there is more than enough here to please anyone with an insatiable thirst for blood.