Dead Island Review

I was at the beach with my cousin and his family about seven years ago.  We had just finished playing poker, and got off on a hypothetical run awry.  The topic was what we would do if a hurricane wiped out all connections to the island we were on, and everyone there was forced into a survival type situation.  It was one of the most entertaining hypotheticals we’d ever engaged in, and Dead Island, to an extent, helps one to visualize just such a scenario.  A number of things stand out about this game (which I admittedly have not finished yet).  First, there is a pretty damn good rap song at the beginning of the song.  Its great to hear a game with original musical content.  You stumble into a club while the song plays, drinking from a bottle of Jack while shoving dancers away from you.  A zombie attacks during the blur, then you wake up in an abandoned hotel.  That is all the introduction you get to the outbreak.  You have to walk through the darkened halls of the hotel while a siren blares.  It sets a wonderful atmosphere of tension and fear.  You can loot the many suitcases littering the halls, and this was my first indication as to what type of gameplay this will be.  It turns out my assumptions are correct, and this game is extremely fetch-quest based.  It also grabs another zombie-game stereotype, that of being insanely difficult.

As opposed to a game like Dead Rising, these zombies pose really difficult individual battles and when your up against a group it can be suffocating.  Many games put the difficulty in the overwhelming number of zombies you have to fight, but here things are spaced out a bit more, but with more strength per zombie.  Then there are more diverse zombies like thugs, which are taller and of course more maddening to kill.  Its easy to compare this game with other zombie games, and there is no lack of zombie games on the market.  Other than Nazi Zombies, which I don’t consider cannon in the zombie genre, I’m most familiar with Dead Rising, and so will use it as a comparison.  An improvement over Dead Rising is that when you die the game doesn’t take you back to the last save, but instead borrows a Borderlands style where when you die, you lose some money but not some progress.

So far the story is fairly typical.  There are safe houses scattered around the map, and you basically run errands for them, like getting food and medicine, in exchange for money and XP.  Of course there are more involved missions that help progress the story along, and in turn open up more of the map, but I won’t spoil any of the story here.  You also get trophy progress directly in your HUD which is nice when trying to figure out how many more miles or kills you lack for the next trohpy.

I just keep yelling "Get up out my face" like it will help

The game isn’t anything groundbreaking or new.  Hell, its pretty much the antithesis of originality.  The zombie genre has been done to death in recent years, but that doesn’t prevent Dead Island from having compelling gameplay.  It certainly does try its hardest to be immersive, including a sprint system with heavy breathing which can be rather realistic when running from zombies in the rain, dodging in and out of wrecked vehicles and rotting corpses.  Being attacked while swinging a cleaver wildly in a small bunker can be a frantic and claustrophobic experience, and certainly gives one that sense of actually being trapped on an island during a zombie uprising.  Moreover, this game has what I’ve always asked for in any first-person based game.  When you look down, you can see your feet!

The graphics are pretty great and the water looks incredible.  The blood, especially when strewn about in liberal amounts, gives off a terrifying vibe.  The gore and the horror are so well done in this game that its easy to overlook some of the other, less refined aspects, such as weapon degradation that, in my opinion, occurs too rapidly, and the extreme difficulty curve.  (On another note, its now reported that in Skyrim, weapons will not degrade, which is amazing in this writer’s opinion.)  But lets compare this game to my previous favorite zombie game, Dead Rising.  Take a look at Dead Rising’s gore from some image I found online:

And compare it to this picture of Dead Island I just took on my phone:

This game has taken the zombie genre, which can sometimes wander into the comical, and transformed it into a terrifying bloodbath.  And judging it by that standard, which is the only standard any zombie consumer can use reliably, this game has greatly succeeded.  I really do enjoy playing it, but for some reason its lending itself to more of a game where I play in spurts, not in binges.  Maybe I’ve played too many games like this recently, where you fetch someone’s lost bracelet for XP and grind it out for better weapons.  Maybe I’m just oversaturated with zombies.  But one thing’s for certain, its a hell of a lot of fun, and that’s all I’m really asking for in the end.


One Comment to “Dead Island Review”

  1. I’m not entirely sure I believe you have a cousin, the premise seems awry to say the least.

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