E3 2010: Dead Nation Hands-On Preview

By Jordan Douglas on June 24, 2010, 12:40PM EDT

Dead Nation from Housemarque, the team behind Super Stardust HD, is an upcoming twin stick shooter set in a zombie infested, not too distant future. It will be the second game released exclusively on the PlayStation Network by the Finnish developer. Dead Nation's familiar controls and mechanics make it easily approachable experience, and its high production values make it an engaging one.

Dead Nation's premise isn't anything you haven't seen many times before - a virus has infected the vast majority of the human population and it's up to the few survivors to eradicate it. However, the folks over at Housemarque have some plans to keep players interested, including a meta game and cooperative play. The meta game involves separating players based on their real world nations and tasking them with slowly chipping away at the virus threat. This is achieved simply through playing the game and wracking up score, similar to Nobi Nobi Boy's quest to reach Mars.

Based on Dead Nation's polished environments and art style, it's surprising to pick up the controller and find it controls exactly like Super Stardust, which is to say it feels like a tight twin stick shooter. Stardust's cosmic debris and extraterrestrial creatures are replaced with hordes of zombies, easily reaching several dozen on screen at a time in the more hectic sequences. Zombies are dispensed by using a number of firearms (assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, etc...), grenades, melee attacks and environment hazards such as fires, exploding barrels and electricity. The key is to maintain distance between you and the horde which makes the melee attacks incredibly useful when reloading. Overall, the combat is simple and enjoyable.

The brief demo on display at Sony's booth showcased Dead Nation well. It doesn't seem to do anything revolutionary, but the mechanics are solid and the presentation is impressive for a downloadable title. Look for more on Dead Nation as its release date approaches, sometime later this year.

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