Monday, June 27, 2011

you can take my life, but you can never take my ego!

After spending a solid several hours with Dead Nation I have figured out exactly what I like about it. It's not the weapon selection, which includes a rocket launcher with splash damage that doesn't effect you and a lawnmower blade launcher. It's certainly nor the level design, which rarely wanders far from getting from here to there with the occasional side trip to collect collectibles. It is also not the enemy design, though the sounds that zombies clowns make when dying is one of the few moments of levity in an otherwise depressing game. These are all good things, but what I really like is that every once and a while the game is not afraid to throw you into a situation that is simply not fair.

I am usually not a fan of difficulty for its own sake or tuning a game to keep the majority of people from seeing the end, and Dead Nation doesn't ever do that, but it still manages to surprise you with hoards of zombies that pour out of windows and doors and sewers, usually when you are low on ammo. It manages this by having the zombies threaten something much important that your life; they threaten your score. As you kill zombies (most of them, anyway) they drop yellow and red colored balls. The yellow ones are for weapon upgrades and ammo and the reds ones add to you score multiplier. Getting hit by zombies takes away a little bit of health but a lot of the multiplier, injuring your pride instead of making you start over. For the record, setting your self on fire through reckless flame throwing is even worse that getting beaten on.  It is an ingenious use of 'keeping score' in a game that could have easily slipped into 'just stay alive until you get to the end.'

For the record, I did finally play a little of the other free game I got thanks to Sony's security snafu: Wipeout HD/Fury. It was not impressed by the game or the music, but damn did it run smoothly. Makes me wish it was fun to play.

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