The co-op in Dead Nation is identical to the single player - each player chooses one of our characters and progresses through the story. A nice touch in co-op is the addition of that player in the comic book style cutscenes, something we rarely see in a co-op game. The co-op mode also adds in extra zombies as well as makes the zombies more powerful, making it increasingly difficult over the single player game. If and when someone dies, there’s no reviving them on the spot, instead you must make your way to one of the levels checkpoints where you can respawn, resupply, and head back into the mix.
When playing locally, your partner can spawn with identical upgrades to you - so they won’t be left behind if you decide to take on the later levels you’ve unlocked while playing single player. In online each person has their own profile, so you’ll be bringing your own respective upgrades into the mix. It should be noted that at this time, there is no voice chat for online co-op, but its coming in a patch. Besides this little snafu we found the online play smooth, with only a few hiccups of lag.
As I said earlier, Dead Nation is incredibly detailed. The environments are littered with corpses, garbage, wrecked vehicles, and other items you’d expect to find in a dilapidated city. Certain items - like the cars - art particularly useful as you can use them as weapons. Shooting some will set off an alarm which draws the zombies away from you, and in turn, they attack the car until it explodes in glorious fashion. Seriously, seeing a mushroom like cloud of zombie parts never gets old. You will need to use everything at your disposal, and you will need to communicate with your teammate as to what’s happening and who’s responsible for what. This becomes apparent doing the set piece moments.
Set pieces should be familiar to anyone who has played Left 4 Dead - hit a switch, trigger the horde, and survive until a bridge moves/door opens/lights come on. It’s identical in Dead Nation, though the addition of the mines and other explosive items allows some strategic planning to what’s going to happen next.
When I said this was a “tough sell” - it wasn’t just because it was another zombie game. While Dead Nation does offer difficulty settings, we still found it a bit too difficult at times - mostly due issues with gameplay mechanics. Compared to the competition of other twin stick zombie shooters - Dead Nation stands a severed zombied head above them. The production values are incredibly high for a downloadable title, the graphics are gorgeous, and there’s a ton of gameplay to be had if you are willing to take it on.
The Co-Op Experience: Team up with a a friend against the undead as one of two character. Local players can play shared screen and keep their upgrades for the secondary character.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.