Impressions: 'Dead Nation'

The downloadable twin stick zombie shooter is fast becoming a cliché in gaming, with professional titles like Zombie Apocalypse and Burn Zombie Burn! sharing virtual shelf space with hordes of indie titles like Zombie Estate and I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1 (Word loved that title).  Dead Nation, the latest title from Super Stardust HD developer Housemarque, seems at first glance to be just another geek to add to the already massive army of similar titles…until you actually play it.

True, Dead Nation is another twin-sticker pitting you against the undead.   Where it differs from its peers is that it’s actually a very harrowing experience. 

Housemarque has leveraged the raw horsepower of the Playstation 3 into a game that had me pretty genuinely freaked out as I crept along darkened streets, my meager flashlight barely illuminating what lay ahead.  There’s a genuine sense of tension as good sized portions of the level are spent in near-silence, waiting for the zombies to rear their rotting heads.  When they finally do, the sheer volume of them is overwhelming, which only adds to the already tense experience.

The gameplay underneath all of this terror is still rock-solid, with a fantastic weapons upgrade system to tailor your arsenal as you progress and a worldwide leaderboard system that shows where you, as well as the rest of your country, stand in terms of fighting back the zombie apocalypse.  Touches like these that make Dead Nation a worthwhile title, even on a market saturated with games of its ilk.

Dead Nation is available exclusively on the Playstation Network for $14.99.