The other day I picked up a copy of the long awaited new zombie game Dead Island and I am taking a minute to share with you my experience. Just as a quick preface I have not completed the game but wanted to share my feelings so far since I know alot of you are wondering whether you should buy it or not as has been asked on our boards a few times now.
I am a big fan of zombie games and frankly it is just about the only sub-genre of games that you are sure to see me by. I own Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising, Dead Rising 2, Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmares Expansion and more. I am all about slaying the undead and trying to experience the terror of an apocalyptic zombie nightmare and continue to chase the dream of playing in a game world that brings the mind of George Romero to life.
Dead Island is unlike any other zombie game I own and despite some draw backs and minor flaws is for the most part a game you need to consider playing. Let’s start with the basic premise of the game before we dive into my thoughts. Dead Island is a gruesome zombie action game with RPG elements by game developer Techland. The game combines first-person action with a heavy focus on melee combat, character development and customisation of a vast array of weapons. All of these gameplay features are presented in a dark story inspired by classic zombie movies with a gritty and engrossing campaign that can be played with up to four players in co-op mode.
Set in an open world tropical island, hordes of different festering zombies wait around every corner as you embark on various missions all set around an island Holiday resort. With firearms and ammunition incredibly scarce you must rely on discovering and utilising items as weapons for self-defense and fighting off zombie hordes in intense melee combat. A diverse range of items can be collected and used to transform your ordinary makeshift weapons into serious instruments of destruction.
With the framework of the game now laid out the question becomes does it work? Right out of the box Dead Island spends the first 30 to 45minutes of gameplay trying to bore you completely to death. I was so disappointed by the boring loot and escape routine that occupies the ‘Prologue’ that I actually turned the game off and went to do something more fun… and cut my grass.
Fortunately I picked the game back up got through the prologue and found my way out of the resort, off of the beach and into the real heart of the game. I am currently about 3hours into the game and have completed 8% of the game according to the in game stats and unlike in the prologue every step I take forward gets creepier, darker and more dangerous as I struggle to make my way off the island rescuing people as I go and collecting supplies and gear along the way.
The missions are well thought out and although quite a few involve you running from point A to Point B beating off hordes of undead zombies all of the missions make sense. From collecting car parts so you don’t have to travel on foot anymore, to collecting food and medical supplies Dead Island does a great job at immersing you in a hellish world of the undead.
Visually Dead Island is quite stunning and is very open allowing you to traverse the island completing missions as you choose or just hacking and slashing you way through hordes of undead and ignoring the quests completely. Much like Dead Rising, Dead Island has a crafting element which allows you to make and modify weapons and it also borrows the concept of weapon decay. As you beat your way through the hordes of undead you don’t have to wonder about the condition of your weapon or monitor a ‘weapon health’ bar as your weapon will literally come apart in your hands clumped with blood, hair, bone and brains making it obvious that you need to get a new one, repair it… or run like hell.
The combat in Dead Island is second to none with much more to it than just hacking and slashing your way through hordes of the undead. I am going to give you an example in the form of a real scenario that was not choreographed but just one of many random encounters I had.
Fleeing from a Lifeguard station I left in a vehicle I had just finished repairing with parts from other broken down vehicles around me. As I was driving down the road at 100 miles an hour running down zombies feeding on bodies on the road, one came up over my hood, through the windshield and into my lap. After swerving almost smashing into a crashed tour bus I kicked out the destroyed windshield and went on another hundred yards. Noticing a big pile of luggage I jumped out of my vehicle to collect supplies only to find myself attacked by a massive horde of zombies. I struggled to beat them off with my modified baseball bat with nails in it only to be thrown 15’ through the air by an overly large zombie with a taste for violence. My baseball broke on the skull of this overly large zombie and with my health meter fading I fled my vehicle and the luggage to make my way back to the beach and what I knew was more danger but at least a different danger and hopefully one I could survive.
All of this in the spam of 3minutes and throughout it all I was in a complete panic the question running through my mind was holy sh*t I wish I had a gun. Needless to say Dead Island has fulfilled my needs for experiencing an apocalyptic zombie survival game.
As far as exploration and looting there is plenty to find as you loot guest rooms, luggage and closets but I do find it a bit of a peeve that you can enter Guest Room #1, Break into Guest Room 2 using a very cool ‘door break down’ function but Guest Room 3 can’t be entered…. just because. The same can be said for looting. You can loot 2 suitcases but the third one laying on the ground beside them you can’t… just because. Although it’s not a huge drawback if you are going to do a truly open world and allow maximum interaction don’t go half ass leaving certain areas unexplorable for no good reason other then lack of time to flesh it out.
I am very satisfied with my purchase. If you love Dead Rising and wanted something more from Left 4 Dead then just run and gun Dead Island is the game for you. 9 out of 10 stars.