Originally Published: 3 November 2010
The Eurogamer Expo was great. There’s no doubt about that. You could barely turn round without being presented with a fantastic upcoming title, but hidden away in the over 18’s section of the show floor was a single unassuming PS3, attached to a single TV screen. Where the stands for Fallout: New Vegas, Killzone 3 and Gears of War 3 were bedecked with logos and artwork from the games they housed, no such honour befell this machine. It sat, alone, in front of a white wall, close to Dragon Age 2 and right next to the Gears of War 3 set-up.
The event ran for three whole days. Throughout those three days this one machine was constantly being played, while people stood around watching. If you were to ask any members of the crowd what the game was they’d reply “I don’t know”. If you asked the people playing you’d get a similar answer. For three days people played this game, one after another, picking up where their unknown comrade had fallen in battle and soldiering on but they never once stopped to ask what the game was – or, at least, none of the people I encountered during the weekend had.
So, armed with the knowledge that it was a game involving zombies and it was on the PS3 I set about Googling it. I Googled on Friday and yielded no results, I tried again on Saturday having seen that the in-game shop was called the Zombiemart and hoping that would give me a clue. Nada. Sunday came and Sunday went and I was no closer to the answer. It was only when I was back home and I Googled again, this time trawling through the Eurogamer website, that I found what I was looking for. I knew the name of the game.
I’d been looking, longingly, at Dead Nation. A top down twin-stick shooter set in a post-apocalyptic world over-run by zombies where you, as a survivor, are immune to the zombification and choose to take the fight to the zombies or die trying. A casual observation will find many a similarity to other zombie-based games. You’ll see, as you approach the weapons van for the first time, a huge zombie land on the roof – looking a little like a tank. Later on, waddling down the street you’ll see something that resembles a boomer. And zombies love a car alarm, don’t they?
The similarities are no bad thing, to be honest. And, if anything, they are a pleasing addition for the zombie-savvy player – you know to stay out of the way when a boomer goes, well, boom. You know that a car with a flashing light is probably going to have an alarm which will draw all the zombies to it before exploding. But you won’t know everything – there are tall, gangly zombies who like nothing more than to press themselves against walls, and hide in the shadows, before running at you – you’ll glimpse them, occasionally, in the beam of your torch as they try to blend into the surroundings. But, whatever the type of zombie you encounter, the important thing is that you kill them. All.
To help you slay the undead, weapons vans allow you to upgrade your weapons as well as buy new kit like flamethrowers and machine guns. Money is stashed in boxes throughout the game, occasionally on the zombies and, more curiously, inside the boot of every abandoned car you’ll come across – something you should bear in mind before setting them off as impromptu explosive devices.
The thing I like best, however, about Dead Nation is the online aspect. You can play online – that’s nothing surprising. But what Dead Nation does is takes every zombie you’ve killed and uploads it to a worldwide leader board split into countries. Each kill you make contributes towards your nation’s efforts to rid themselves of the zombie infestation – when I played the preview code we were just behind the USA, with around a 43% success rate against infection. That was a couple of weeks ago, though, and I’m sure we’ve surged onward in a bid to be free of the disease… before the next infection starts, at least.
Dead Nation is set to be released on PSN sometime before the end of the year. When it does, grab your trusty rifle and join the cause. I’ll see you on the streets.
Your Country Needs You!