Sep 212009
 

Nation Red is Asteroids with zombies.  It’s a fairly good arcade game overall and it uses this classic gameplay style with panache.  Unfortunately it’s held back by a lack of a multiplayer option and very little replay value.

Nation Red doesn’t attempt a plot, and it shouldn’t.  You start off in a zombie Picture 5infested ghost town and you kill zombies.  Why are you there?  I couldn’t figure it out.  But I didn’t need to because when you see a zombie trying to munch on your brains it’s pretty clear you should shoot it.  There is a campaign mode, but don’t let that fool you.  Campaign mode is where they experiment with different placements of zombies and with the occasional boss.  It’s fun, but it’s just various iterations of the same core concept.

The playstyle itself is fairly addictive.  You move your character around with the WASD keys and then click in the direction you want to shoot.  It’s very intuitive and the few dozen power Picture 7ups end up being a lot of fun.  They have done a great job of maintaining the feeling that you’re constantly on the verge of being overwhelmed by the zombies without being frustrating.  Just as you’re about to die you might get a steam gun or double uzi’s.  Possibly a ghost power up drops, which creates a mirror image of yourself that fights along side you, or grenades drop.  The core gameplay is creative and I have nothing but good to say about it.  You get familiar with the drops quickly and there are a lot of them that are good fun.  You don’t feel like each drop is the same thing with a slightly different name, each weapon is very different from the others and better for certain circumstances.

You also level up in Nation Red.  You reset at the end of each round, but it adds some interesting things.Picture 1 Each level you choose a new benefit.  Either the ability to get a new weapon or a range of other combat additions.  Do you want to generate health or experience automatically, have the ability to have waves of energy burst out from around you, have random fire rain down on your enemy, shoot faster or do more damage or just pick up power ups more easily?  There’s a wide range of options and I didn’t see one that wasn’t useful.  This adds a lot of depth to it.

The campaign mode is short, I think I spent about and hour and a half getting through it.  Beyond that there are survival modes.  Picture 6Part of me feels like this means there’s less replay value, but to be fair this has about 10x the replay value of Asteroids and I spent hundreds of hours on that.  I think we’re a little spoiled now when it comes to games, we tend to need something new to be thrown at us constantly.  We aren’t always interested in repeating the same thing over and over again slowly getting better at it.  Whatever the cause I’d imagine the average player would get about 10-15 hours of play at first and might pick it up now and again to waste some time after that.  One thing that does extend the playability of it is a very intuitive difficulty meter.  You can open it up at any time and it will adjust itself as you slide the bar from easy to hard real time.  The hardest modes are pretty impossible.

The graphics are okay.  They aren’t top of the line, but after there’s 100Picture 1 bodies strewn about the floor you stop caring about that as much.  The music is exhilarating and adds a lot to the game.  It’s metal, and it fits well with the frantic pacing of the game.

The lack of a multiplayer option really kills the game.  I know after playing the first round on my own I started looking for it because I knew this could be a great game to play with friends at parties or over the internet.  Really, it almost seems like the game was meant to be a multiplayer type game so it’s very confusing as to why they left it out.  This really kills any replay value for it.

Picture 2For $10 you really can’t complain too much about replay value.  It’s well worth it.  It is very fun but don’t expect to play it for a long time.  I played for about 15 hours and then I was done with it.  I may go back again for the odd match, but I don’t expect to rack up more then 10 more hours overall.  This game shows a lot of potential and delivers only on some of it.  I’m not sure if there’s a Nation Red 2 in the works, but if they could have multiplayer functionality and maybe even get it onto a console I think this game could be a huge hit.

[tags] Video Games, Zombies, Review, Nation Red, Arcade [/tags]

About Ben Williams

I'm a table top RPG, video game and art house film geek. I love world building, remember when Quest for Glory was about the most awesome game I'd ever seen, and believe existential film can save my soul. I practically live at the local gaming stores and spend way too much time playing D&D and Star Wars pen and paper games. I make short indie films in my spare time and have a special place in my heart for underground animation.

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