Dead Nation arrived on PS3 back in 2010. It was well received at the time, and has recently had an upgrade for PS4 and now finds itself also on the Vita. Lee already reviewed the game, which you can find here, and as the story/gameplay content is the same I thought rather than a review, it would be more beneficial to look at the Vita version’s performance and features. The first thing to note is that the game will be free if you already own the PS3 version, however this doesn’t apply to the recently released PS4 version. That also goes for the Road To Devastation DLC, so if you picked that up, it’s included here at no extra cost.
Graphically, Dead Nation looks sharp on the Vita screen and personally I loved the look of the comic book style cutscenes. The flashlight effect still looks as cool as ever, although an issue I did hit a few times, while playing on the train, was that the game is so dark that any sunlight on the screen made it momentarily unplayable. That’s not a condition limited to this game, but worth bearing in mind as it’s a problem you may not normally have when playing on the big screen.
The game was just as frantic as I remembered from the PS3 and despite having a large number of enemies on screen for a lot of time there was no issue with frame rate, which is great news. The game runs smoothly and thankfully for me there is now a Braindead difficulty option that you can breeze your way through; I got stuck on one level halfway through the PS3 version and never made it any further. At least now I can experience the story before revisiting on a higher difficulty if I want to.
One of the reasons you may want to revisit levels is the co-operative play options, both local and online, where you can pair up with a friend for even more zombie destruction. The online runs really well, the only problem I had when playing a public game was that at times it took a while to find another player. Even with a medium connection I didn’t hit many problems and a great thing about how the developer has structured the connection is that even when I did hit an issue the game allows for a long break to reconnect.
A lot of games disconnect as soon as the connection is lost whereas Dead Nation might freeze for 5 or 6 seconds (with an onscreen logo so you know it’s a connection issue) before reconnecting. In an ideal world it wouldn’t have any connection issues but I’d rather have a longer pause and jump back in as opposed to losing all my progress and having to start again.
As well as online play, the game has leaderboards, which should drive competition with friends even further. Beyond that the brilliant country leaderboards return, with every zombie kill going towards your territory’s global kill count, it is fascinating to see which countries are mowing down the undead while you’re browsing the leaderboards!
It’s not all plain sailing though and there were a few issues that I want to highlight. There is a lengthy load time when you initially start the game, initially I thought it was a form of install but it happens each time. Having said that once you’re in the game, load times are minimal and I’d rather have it that way round. My other issue is that sometimes the right stick (used for aiming) just wasn’t responsive enough. This made accurate aiming a problem on the odd occasion I had time to plan an attack. Again it’s a small thing – for the most part you’ll be spraying bullets all over the place anyway – but I found it to be an annoyance throughout the game.
For us folks who already own the PS3 version this is a great, free title to add to our Vita collection. It runs well and has all the online features you’d expect. If you haven’t played the game before I would say it’s worth the £6.49 price point, you get a decent slice of content and the co-op options extend the life of the game considerably.