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“Nation Red” review

by on Jan.02, 2013, under PC Game Reviews

Game: Nation Red
Developer: DiezelPower

 Enough with the zombies already …

One of the problems caused by having a marketplace packed full of zombie-based video games is that too many fresh-faced game developers feel obliged to pile onto that bandwagon. Five years ago, that might not have been an issue. Today, that metaphorical vehicle is barely visible, smothered under billions of decomposing corpses harvested from dozens of games, each struggling to showcase its position on how to deal with the undead. The trouble is that just about every game developer has an identical xenophobic view of zombies: “if it shambles and is undead … shoot it in the head.” If Maxis ever decides to design SimZombie (the ultimate zombie world simulation), complete with detailed infection vector models, human survivor hunting and zombie de-evolution mechanics, I’ll be there quicker than you can say “Muuaaaaaghhhhhh!” Until that dream is realised, it looks like we will continue to be bombarded with zombie shooters as mindless and insipid as the in-game protaganists. Unfortunately, DiezelPower’s Nation Red is yet another perfect example of this developer mindset.

At its core, Nation Red is a twin stick shooter set within the perpetual sepia toned environs of Hicksville, AZ and focuses on the final moments in the lives of four heavily armed soldiers as they face off against your typical zombie horde. Make no mistake, these guys ARE going to die; its just a matter of determining how many undead they’ll be taking to the grave with them. Fortunately the game-engine is more than capable of rendering dozens of festering fiends on screen, eager to feast on your flesh. Zombies vary in capability and range from your standard, lurching cannon-fodder up to powerful mini-gun wielding bastards (who fortunately have lost the ability to aim)! There are plenty of guns with which to dispatch the undead and you can also execute a mean round-house kick to clear your immediate vicinity of opponents. Perks and power-ups can be acquired as you decimiate your  adversaries and some minor skill variations between soldier classes round out the features list.

While there can be no doubt that the game is highly polished and has incredibly robust co-op multiplayer support for up to four players, Nation Red’s biggest failing is its repetative and uninspiring game-play. The single player campaign is just a series of 18 slaughter-fests set within nearly identical maps that have more brown in them than Quake did back in 1996. I realise that Arizona can be pretty dusty in places but DiezelPower aren’t doing the Arizona Office of Tourism any favours with their vision of this State. The multiplayer modes provided are equally lacking in game-play diversity. While initially the game is admittedly a fun romp (playing multiplayer with friends is even better), it rapidly becomes a tiresome and tedious exercise that even the plethora of Steam achievements can’t hope to assauge. If you ever stumble across someone who has managed to complete the “Thinning the Horde” achievement (kill 1,000,000 zombies) steer well clear as there is a high possibility that they may harbour sado-masochistic tendencies!

At the end of the day, this foray into the zombie action genre lacks the depth and replayability that most players expect for their gaming dollar. Some additional development would definitely add to its potential of becoming a gaming gem, and I suspect that the inclusion of more diverse maps and a persistent meta-game might have encouraged players to keep playing. As it stands, Nation Red will probably provide a short-term euphoric experience for gamers, followed by some long-term relegation to the back of your virtual gaming closet.

 

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