Dead Nation Apocalypse Edition – As We Play

It’s been a full week and this PS4 remake has been both announced and now released as March’s Playstation + offering. Developers, that’s how you do it.

Dead Nation is an addictive, twin-stick shooter that has more than made its mark on Playstation 3 players. This Apocalypse Edition, however, intends to go one step further.

So what’s new here? The most notable change is that everything is next-level, gorgeous PS4 HD. Huge changes to the lighting allow explosions and gunfire to brighten up the screen gloriously, making those hard to spot zombies all the more vulnerable to your gunfire. The laser-sight focus and short-range torchlight, coupled with re-modeled cars and even more high-quality zombies means Dead Nation now looks pretty darn fantastic.

Even the sound has been re-tuned. The music seems to have a edgier tone to it – now fully remixed and remastered in crystal, high quality – and all the sound effects give off a heightened atmosphere with glass bottles shattering, wind blowing, lightning striking, guns unloading, zombies groaning and car alarms shrieking as you run frantically to the next checkpoint.

All that said, the frame rate does  surprisingly drop whenever you try to move away from an area too quickly, and often when you try to barge your way out. The PS4 version handles the onslaught of zombies well, but the port does suffer just slightly if too much is happening at once.

Surprisingly, there are no noticeable uses for the controller lightbar or the touchpad area. You can map controls to the large area, but weapon switching, for example, wasn’t picking up correctly. We’re not expecting everything from these guys – especially considering the rapid turnaround of the Apocalypse Edition – but it could be an area for development, perhaps? As with Resogun, the controller audio out is used to make announcements about weapon changes or collected power-ups. Players can also use the D-Pad for a Quick Weapon Switch, another new feature in the PS4 version.

What Housemarque have also done is give us fresh new Vita support.The game is one of the first to support Second Screen and will produce a breakdown of your in-game stats. It’ll tell you how many zombies have been killed and how you’ve killed them, whether you’ve used melee attacks, burned them with a grenade or exploding car or even picked them off with a headshot. It also tells you how much money you currently have, your current score and multiplier and how much ammo you have left in your guns. Fair enough, the information is already on screen and in easy view, but it’s a nice touch and hopefully inspiration enough for more developers to take advantage of the functionality. Frustratingly, however, once you pause the game, those stats are not available to you. Ironic considering none of that information is available on the pause screen and actually having a second screen to check it out while taking a breather would be handy, especially if you’re planning a strategy and figuring out your next move.

Still, Remote Play is, predictably, superb. Some of the default button-mapping can make things a bit difficult – particularly dashing and melee – but the game is very flexible in enabling you to change buttons, so this is an easy fix. The game handles just as well as its PS4 counterpart and plays as if it was born to be experienced on the handheld. Dead Nation Vita is, arguably, that much more exciting than having all the HD bells and benefits on your next-gen platform, but Vita is happy to support the player with all the action happening on your TV set as well. The generous little wonder…

Dead-Nation-Apocalypse-Edition

But the big new feature? Broadcast +. As if Housemarque weren’t setting enough trends on the PS4 platform, they’ve taken advantage of the Share feature where other games haven’t. While the online features of the game weren’t easily experienced ahead of PS+ launch, the broadcast feature allows you to play the game to a set of viewers who will actually dictate the events you’ll be up against. We’ll be coming back to evaluate this component of the game once the servers have been populated, but the idea sounds fantastic and we cannot wait to try it.

 Areas for Development

  • Frame-rate dips when dashing and facing lots of on-screen activity.
  • Game can be juttery on occasions
  • Vita Second Screen ability should be available on Pause Screen
  • Use for the PS4 Touch-Pad and Light bar?

Final Analysis

All in all, a lovely, welcome port for Playstation 4. Once again Housemarque seem to be the developers offering best value for money for Playstation Plus owners. Bar a few technical hiccups, it’s a title that offers some inspirational features for future PS4 titles and plenty of content between the original campaign and its  that will keep you busy for weeks to come.

(Online Content to be Overviewed and Included shortly)

Technical Competency – 8/10

Graphical State/Sound Quality – 8.5/10

 Network Competency – To be Tested

Current Overall Score – 8/10

 

About the author

Ray Willmott

Ray is the founder and editor of Expansive. He is also the Community Manager for Steel Media, and has written for a variety of gaming websites over the last six years. His work can be seen on Pocket Gamer, PG.biz, Gfinity, and the Red Bull Gaming Column. He has also written for VG247, Videogamer, GamesTM, PLAY, and MyM Magazine,

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