Sunday, May 16, 2010

PC Game Review - Nation Red

Nation Red developed by DiezelPower last August is an isometric Zombie Shooter. I will be reviewing the version seen with the latest patch (1.66) which was released last week. Nation Red can be purchased on Steam for $9.99

The Story would only be apparent if you read the write up on Steam. Now to make things simple. Zombies appear in the Midwest in the 1970s, the last one is thought to be shot and killed. Thirty Years later it turns out there were more and now the area is being overrun yet again. Now it's up to you to kill them all.

To start with, the gameplay is very simple. It's in an isometric view (see screenshot below), and you play it like any old arcade top down shooter. Move (and roll), and of course kill everything that moves while confined in a small area. It's very much like SmashTV in this respect. What makes it stand out though is the Perk System. For every X amount of points you unlock a perk. You are given a set of 5 random perks to choose from every time you level up. These range from a perk that will give you a grenade every 30 seconds to bombs that will drop over areas of the map every 30 seconds killing around 5-6 zombies with them. In addition to the zombies there are also Zombie Bosses, think special infected in Left 4 Dead except these bosses will take clip after clip and are absolutely deadly. Some of these bosses have guns, some have chainsaws and others throw grenades and are covered in riot gear. The bosses in this game are no joke. That along with the huge variety of weapons to take these zombies and bosses down (Melee weapons like Axes, Regular Guns like M16s and even special weapons such as Steam Hammers/Flame Throwers!) make for a lot of varied fun gameplay assuring that no two games are the same. You never know what you are going to get so you have to make your strategies on the spot as well. To say that Nation Red's gameplay is fun and addictive would not be enough to describe how brilliant it really is.

The game is split up into a variety of modes. First you have Mission Mode, in here are all the story based missions. There are 18 in total that get progressively harder and harder. Very fun mode and while the levels may not be that long, trying to figure out how to go about them will result in several retries once you get around mission 5. The second mode is Free Play. Here you are put into an area and have unlimited time to kill as many zombies as you wish (well until you die). So just keep shooting and have fun. The Third Mode is survival where you are given a Sub Machine gun as your only weapon and you have to survive as long as possible. The last mode available was added with the recent patch, it is called Barricade. Here you will have to defend an area like all the other modes but the catch is that at the southern most part of the area is a barricade, if the zombies break through there it's game over. This is in my opinion the best mode. In addition to this there is Local Co-Op Play, however I have yet to test this out.

The graphics in Nation Red are flawless. The game just looks so dark, gritty and real. This can be thanked in part to the setting. The desert, very gloomy and dark. Even in the light it still looks dark. The zombie models are fantastic looking. Blood splatters, ripped clothes and amazing animations makes the hundreds of zombies that will fill your screen at one time make this game an absolute beauty. The sound, I wish I could say was flawless but I do have one minor grip with it. While it does feature a lot of awesome instrumental work (which is pretty much all Guitar Solos and blast beats) and accurate gun sounds, the sound effects aren't quite up to par, I don't like the grunts made when either you or a zombie get hit. There only seems to be about 3 separate sounds for that which is disappointing. It can really kill the vibe of the game quickly

What else can be said. Nation Red is a phenomenal game on almost every front. The only thing I would like to see outside of more sound effects are more areas to play in (there seems to only be about 4 distinct locations). Other than that everything that you could ever really want is in this $9.99 package. DiezelPower is currently readying up Online Co-op for that matter! This game will soon have almost everything fans of this genre could want. A pure arcade type of shooter fun in short or long sessions. I highly recommend this game.

Overall: 9.5/10

+Great Graphics
+Amazing Gameplay
+Extremely Challenging yet rewarding at Parts
+Very Nifty Music

-Not a good amount of sound effects
-A few more areas to play in would be nice

PSP Mini Review - Hysteria Project

Hysteria Project is an interesting throwback to 80's horror movies and classic Sega CD/3D0 FMV (Full-Motion-Video) Games. Costing only $1.99, missing out on this title would be a crime.

Hysteria Project takes place entirely from a first person perspective. You start off in a room where a mysterious hooded figure leaves you tied up and presumably he will be back to kill you. The main objective is to escape and leave the room and forest that surrounds it.

The game is played in a very simple fashion. There are only two things that actually make this a game. Quick Time Events and an option list where you tell your character what to do next. For instance to avoid any later spoilers, you break out of the room by first looking for a sharp object (which is an option) and then cutting yourself free which brings up a quick time event. The game will flash X and O on the screen for a split second where you must press that button or else it's game over.

Once you escape it's a chase through a forest. Mess up once and maybe the axe murder out there will catch you. There are two interesting puzzles to be found out there and some tricky sequences. The game is intense and it's a nonstop adrenaline rush. The only true downfalls are it's length (it can be completed in 30 minutes) and the video is slightly blurry. Then again, this can be blamed on the 100mb limit for Minis on the PSN. However once the game is over you will be ready for a sequel.

Many reviewers say that after one play another playthrough is pointless, but I believe the opposite. When you know what to do you can really take in the entire game without having to restart scenes. You can really go straight through and just experience it like a movie rather than an interactive video.

After the first time you complete the game, you unlock something rather cool and it really fleshes out the story a lot more. I won't say what it is but it really brings together the story. I can't recommend this enough. While it may not be a lengthy adventure or highly replayable it is definitely worth the $1.99.

I give Hysteria Project for the PSP (and iPhone/iPod Touch) a 9/10


+Great to get a small gaming fix
+Interesting story
+Nonstop Action


-Not very replayable
-Ends as soon as it beings
-Bad video compression really hinders the look and feel of the game in some areas