Dead Nation launched on PlayStation 3 in 2014 and eventually made its way to PlayStation 4 earlier this year as an upgraded version of the game titled “Dead Nation Apocalypse Edition” that was mostly visual upgrades with some little extras. For a while now, a PlayStation Vita version has been talked about and now suddenly its available and the results are rather good, even if its possibly the weakest version of the three.
Dead Nation is a top-down shooter in which you make your way through dilapidated streets, parks, rooftops and more as you fend off waves of zombies while racking up a score, gold, and a multiplier. While most top-down shooters are hectic and full of bullets coming from every direction, Dead Nations adds a little more atmosphere and progression as you make your way through the levels. There will be times that the zombies hordes will overwhelm you but you will always be well equipped whether that’s shooting explosives in the world, throwing a grenade, or just leaning back on that trusty flame-thrower.
Dead Nation looks rather nice on PlayStation Vita, although it is noticeable that concessions had to be made regarding the visuals. Everything looks a little more jaggy that the other versions. Thankfully though, the gameplay and framerate is smooth almost throughout. There are some times when the frame rate may drop a little, but it’s never really that noticeable.
The biggest thing you may have to adjust for if you’ve played the PlayStation 4 version is how the Vita analogue sticks are looser than the PlayStation 4 analogue sticks. This will result in confrontations where you will have to shoot a few times with some correction in order to finally hit the zombie you want. This correction of tweaking the direction of the analogue stick may only take a second or two but it can be costly when being bombarded by dozens of zombies. Thankfully though you will get used to its fiddly nature in order to succeed in later, tougher levels.
As you play through the game, you will find and obtain gold which is used to replenish ammo, as well as buy new guns and upgrade said guns. The default weapon in Dead Nation is a single-shot assault rifle which has a burst shot when the player holds down the fire button. The other weapons, once upgraded are more powerful than the assault rifle but offer less ammo meaning being too friendly with the trigger will lead to your ammo running out, possibly in the middle of a big fight.
For a game that may seem quite arcade-like, you must be aware of your surroundings with enemies popping out of containers, doors, and more making that atmosphere be even more apparent. Some back-alleys are pitch-black until you shine your flashlight on it and you may not always like what you see down there.
Dead Nation on the PlayStation Vita is a fine port of a rather overlooked game from an incredible developer. Housemarque have made some of the best games on the downloadable platform and Dead Nation is a fine addition to the PlayStation Vita library that stands out thanks to satisfying gunplay, sound design, and enjoyable progression. It’s not worth the plunge if you have the PlayStation 4 version, but it’s definitely worth a look for PlayStation Vita owners.