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Dead Nation: Zombie Heartland

Whether you love 'em or hate 'em, zombies aren't leaving the game space any time soon. The potential is just too great. From the high-speed insanity of Left 4 Dead to the gonzo laugh-a-thon that is Dead Rising to flat-out unexpected franchises like Borderlands and Red Dead Redemption, the living impaired have left an indelible mark on the gaming industry. That's why, when it comes to zombie-based games, it's important to be as unique as possible. Well, my friends, Dead Nation is unique. From the sublime pacing to the gorgeous visuals, it's got "winner" written all over it. Even though this is a preview, I'll go on the record and say that I love it already.

Dead Nation comes to us from Housemarque, the same studio that brought Super Stardust HD to the PlayStation Network. Like that game, Dead Nation is a twin-stick shooter of sorts. Unlike that game, this one revolves around a good old-fashioned zombie apocalypse. You take control of either a male or female lone survivor and guide them through a hellish cityscape populated to the brim with all kinds of animated corpses. The purpose of the game? Get to the end of each level alive and score as many points as you can.

It's not fair to refer to Dead Nation only as "a twin-stick shooter with zombies," because it's more than that. It plays similarly to Killzone: Liberation, isometric camera angle and all. With your one objective in mind, you must make your way to each level's safe zone, using your guns and wits to survive. It goes without saying that you are severely outnumbered; Dead Nation hearkens back to the good old days when games simply pitted the player against the whole world... but here, you're only alone if you choose to be.

At the beginning of Dead Nation, your character is given a rifle and an unlimited supply of ammo for it. Initially, the rifle is slow and weak, though you can charge up single shots for extra power. A direct hit from a charged shot results in a messy head explosion. It wouldn't be fair or fun to be limited to one weapon over the course of the game. There's a whole arsenal of zombie-dispatching tools to purchase, and they become available as you progress through the game. It doesn't end there; each safe area contains a store in which you can purchase new weapons and upgrades. Before long, a single charged rifle shot will tear through several heads at once. Furthermore, you can mix and match armor pieces found in the field. As you upgrade your weapons, there's a visible difference in how quickly zombies drop.

If you own a PlayStation 3 and are not averse to the idea of yet another zombie-themed game or another twin-stick style shooter, you're going to want to keep your eye on Dead Nation. Unfortunately, there's no confirmed release date for this game, though the release window hints at an end-of-year launch. When the game finally drops, we'll be back with a full, detailed review.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos
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