Dead Island

7.0 Overall Score

Written by on September 22, 2011 in

My summer vacation ended with an once-in-a-lifetime, all-expense paid trip to the tropical island of Banoi. While publisher Deep Silver and developer Techland were gracious to transport me to this island resort, things turned out quite differently in this tropical getaway, and getting away was at the top of my list as I discovered that this island paradise was in actuality Dead Island.

In Dead Island, gamers play as one of four interesting characters who sound as if they were extras in the TV show Lost. Sam B is a one-hit wonder rapper who has had drug and alcohol problems. Logan is a former football star whose life was turned sideways when a street race killed his passenger. Purna is a former Sydney Police officer who took the law into her own hands and has since turned to being a bodyguard. And finally there is Xian Mei, a Chinese woman who is an employee at Banoi’s Royal Palm Resort. Xian Mei may seem to be just a lucky survivor but she has a secret she carries with her.

Each of the four characters has weapon specializations. Sam B is the character with most strength and is great at using blunt weapons. Xian Mei is an excellent character to use if you prefer blades. Purna is a sharpshooter and be worthwhile in a gunfight. Lastly, Logan’s specialty is throwing weapons whether it’s a sharpened broomstick or deadly throwing knife.

In the game these four characters must band together to find a way off the zombie infested island. In order to do so, they must make allies with the resources to get them safely away. This, of course, means your character becomes laundry-list doer of the apocalypse. It seems like every other person you will meet on Banoi has a quest for you to take care of. Thankfully, you can choose what you want to fulfill or just stick to the main storyline tasks. However, in doing these various secondary tasks, you can really get a scary feel for the island in your expedition. Also, these secondary quests will help you build up your character’s skill tree and will often lead to some very cool weapons and weapon mods.

Dead Island is plentiful with new and exciting ways and weapons to take down zombies. In addition, each completed task and every zombie kill brings your character XP which at a certain point will rank up your character and you can start shopping on the skill tree. The skill tree in Dead Island offers some interesting ways to customize your Zombie-killing machine of a character. The added abilities or skills can help build rage, which is a cool little feature in which the character temporarily gets an ultra-kill ability which is very helpful against harder to kill zombies.

Dead Island’s zombies come in several vicious varieties which offer the player some scary delight when confronted with zombies than can kill you in various ways and means. Most zombies are quick, and some even hunt together. Other zombies are slow but explosive, while others move like wild banshees with sharpened bone limbs for weapons.

One problem that crops up in Dead Island is the disjointed storytelling. Dead Island was made for four-player multiplayer survival, however when playing the game by yourself; players will never see any of the other characters except in the story’s cut scenes. It hampers the player level of engagement in Dead Island. Still, the story is interesting and worth the several hours of gameplay. The mystery of what caused this zombie outbreak is explained using collectible factoids and also traditional story cut scenes. Also as the story progress players experiences many sections of Banoi, including its slums, forest, and other places that are crucial to the mystery of Dead Island.

The multiplayer in Dead Island can sometimes be a difficult problem to overcome. The on-the-fly drop in and out multiplayer works well for those looking to catch a quest or two with gamers in your character’s location. However, trying to play the game with four of your gaming buddies can devolve into an evening of ‘find the leader’, often with frustrating results. For a game that could offer fun-filled nights of multi-player gaming in the vein of Borderlands, Dead Island feels a wee bit of a let-down. However, when by some act of God’s grace you can play with friends, Dead Island can make the hours fly by. An ungodly amount of time can be had just seeing what you and your friends can find, do or explore in this zombie infested sandbox.

The control’s user interface work well in Dead Island. It is very easy to switch between weapons, which is essential because weapons degrade after several uses until they can be repaired at workbenches. Players can only make so many attacks at once, because it drains the character’s stamina. However, wiser players will make constant use of the left bumper button which is used to kick zombies whether they are are rushing at your character or laying on the ground. Kicking does not impact your stamina. For those players seeking additional challenge, they can switch their fighting style from “digital” to “analog” which forces the player to use the right stick on the control pad as their controller. Players must “swing” the stick as if they we’re holding the weapon. It’s an interesting way to play the game, but one wonders with further development if the game could have been played using the PS3’s Move or Xbox 360’s Kinect.

Dead Island offers hours and hours of scary zombie killing goodness. While players will sometimes feel the tedious go-fetch quests, they do come with a ton of zombie action and the myriad ways to dispatch them. Dead Island may not be reinventing the zombie genre, but it is solid in its mechanics, makes the player’s pulse quicken in this horror survival title, and can be a lot of fun to experience online with others. This is one summer vacation I was sad to come to an end, despite its fictional zombicalypse, but with future paid downloadable content to come, it is something I will be dipping my toes into again.

A copy of Dead Island was provided to The Married Gamers for review purposes.

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Author: Chris Brown View all posts by

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