Review: Dead Island
The story is based in the beautiful Palms Resort in the fictional location of Banoi. It use to be all sun, sandy beaches and hot women in bikini’s… well they are still hot if you like your girls dead with broken arms/legs with blood smothering them. Before the beginning of the game you can choose from 1 of four characters.
- Xian Mei, an employee at the Royal Palms Resort. Born and raised in China, she chose an occupation that allowed her to leave her country of birth in order to experience different people and cultures. She is a fast learner, intelligent, and quick on her feet. Having just arrived at Banoi Island, Xian Mei was responsible for myriad menial tasks at the hotel, before starting work as a receptionist. This opportunity to meet and greet all the different nationalities that visited the hotel was ideal for Xian Mei, as it provided a perfect source of inspiration for her dreams of travelling the globe.
- Sam B, a one-hit wonder rap star. He was booked by the Royal Palms Resort to perform his well known song “Who Do You Voodoo?” at a high profile hotel party. He gladly took the chance to play this gig. Once strong, self-confident and proud, Sam B has had a troubled past and a history of drug and alcohol abuse, as his private life became caught in a haze of fake friends and bad advisers.
- Logan, a former NFL star, spoiled by life and successful in every possible way. Logan’s ego finally put an end to his bright future. Taking part in a reckless street race with tragic consequences, Logan not only killed a young woman – his unfortunate passenger – he also fractured his knee, putting an end to his sports career. His fall from stardom inevitably followed and he plunged swiftly into a life of bitterness and despair. In an attempt to get away from the demons hunting him, he gladly takes the chance to experience the beauties and wonders of Banoi Island.
- Purna is a former officer of the Sydney Police department. After losing her career when she killed a child molester who could not be prosecuted because of his wealth and connections, Purna then turned to working as a bodyguard for VIPs in dangerous places all over the world. She is hired not just for her skills but her looks as wealthy men do not mind showing up with Purna on their arm.
The gameplay is Dead Island’s strongest element along with a solid design. The gameplay has a lot to offer for people who are fan of FPS or survival horrors, if your not a big fan of FPS but have played Borderlands and enjoyed the XP system well… Dead Island implements the XP system in the game. Every time you do a quest or kill a zombie in a certain fashion you will earn XP that will help you level up and allow you to pick up more weapons and upgrade/create different types of weapons. As creating weapons go it is similar to Dead Rising as you can find different fact files that unlock more creatable weapons or completing quests will also unlock more weapons for you to create. This said even though Dead Rising did it first Dead Island makes it a little different and a bit harder in a way. The items you need you will come across rarely and will take a knowledge of locations to understand where certain items are. It is still fun and has a new take on what Dead Rising already did. The RPG element is strong in the game and is a great combination with the survival horror genre and really does make Dead Island stand out amongst other zombie titles. The constant solid 60fps on the X360/PS3 version is great especially since I came across no online lag and no loading screens, other than when you load your data. It is shockingly unexpected for a Xbox 360 title to not have any loading screens on such a huge open world map, oh before I forget to mention… the island is huge and when I say huge I mean huge. There are a lot of areas to unlock and travel too and it all helps with the use of a car. This said there are some areas that are restricted which does break away from the “open world” vibe. If you choose to walk in an area where you are restricted you get sent back to the safe house. It is frustrating but it doesn’t really effect the size of it to much, just expect not being able to swim across the ocean.
If your tired of running around location to location then your in luck as the game has a fast travel system that allows you to travel between safehouses. It really does speed up the game and saves you having to either drive across different areas or be brave and go on foot.
The driving in the game is a great added feature but could do with some improvements, during playing online with an american friend we cam across a glitch. The glitch was a bit odd but when we tried to help a survivor to the safe house the car was getting pushed to one side like the steering wheel was locking up and just causing us to drive a bit diagonal. It eventually fixed it self up and this could just be one of the early bugs in the game that will probably later be repaired. It doesn’t effect the gameplay to much and cruising around the Dead Island squashing Zombies couldn’t be more fun. If you seen Zombieland where Woody Harrellson knocks over the Zombie snacking on a tasty humans flesh then you will love it. As you proceed more of the quests and explore the island you will start to come across more weapons and ID cards. ID cards are the games form of collectibles, there are 60 to collect and once collect an achievement will unlock. Guns are hard to find, it took me about 7 hours to randomly come across a weapon with some new online friends.
The guns aiming is very good and has been well made, the guns seem very accurate and look realistic to their real life counterparts just remember ammo is hard to come across so make sure every shot counts.
Throughout the game you will come across multiple different types of zombies as you scour the island. The ones you want to watch out for is the Thugs early on was they take a lot of hits and can kill you in a few. The good thing what the game does is it allows you to see what level the zombies are before you choose to attack them.
Just before I go onto the Design section of this review I wanted to mention about the Menu system in the game. The game will automatically allocate you 3 primary weapons along with your bare fists. If you wish to add another 2 weapons to your arsenal you easily can by clicking the “back” or “select” button on your controller. You can also unlock another two slots as you progress through the game. The menu system is actually very good, it may be a bit annoying that you have to add another two weapons to your primary 3 but it’s not to much of an issue, its very easy to do.
It’s hard to find a title these days that use a full solid four player co-op campaign, I know a lot of people have been comparing this to Left 4 Dead but… I don’t see the similarities other than the obvious. Left 4 Dead to me is a “comical” survival horror with hardly any character development or story line, just a solid 4 player shooter than lets you go around short campaigns killing Zombies. Now don’t get me wrong I love Left 4 Dead but after playing Dead Island for an hour I already had a favourite. Dead Island multiplayer is a great addition to the game and really does make the playing experience a better one. You can join online matches with people on the same chapter as you or people who are further in the game than you. It does warn you each time however about “spoilers” if your not on the same chapter. If people decide to join your game it won’t effect your quests at all and actually if a person joins your game and does a quest you need to do but you both wish to just explore other parts of the island the quest can actually be still completed and you will still receive the XP. I’m sure however the majority of people who join will want to stick together and do the quests together as their are achievements and challenges to complete. With the no loading screens online, no lag and solid frame-rate the online experience is great and probably one of the best I have played for a long time.
The design is where Dead Island also stands strong the characters are very well designed, especially the zombies and lady’s in bikini’s. There are a lot of well designed buildings as well as the cars look crisp. The probably best looking things in the game is the weapons and the water, there are some very nice effects of the sun beating down on the cool calm sea. It’s a shame you can’t just sit down on the beach and catch a tan before getting attacked. After chilling on the beaches and killing some good looking zombies you may start to notice a few issues with the survivors. I have been playing the game for about 12 hours now and have ended up speaking to a lot of characters. During this I started to notice some minor errors, one being the lip syncing for some of the characters. The majority of the characters are fine, mainly the main characters but some of the survivors you come across have terrible lip syncing. I am not sure if it is just a bug in the version I have before any patches but it is a big sloppy and seems a bit lazy. There is also some texture loading issues, this is pretty much understandable however because of the no loading screen’s other than the loading screen before the game starts up. The textures do look a little bit rough at times but it doesn’t look to ugly. It isn’t a major flaw however as everything else looks really nice and is probably the best looking Zombie game out there.
The soundtrack in the game is brilliant, the right music sets the mood perfectly depending on what just happened in the game/cut scenes. When you go to the safe house calm ominous music plays relating to how the scared and lost the characters are feeling. The tones are there and fits perfect within the game. The voice overs however are 50/50 there are some really good voice overs on the main characters but a lot characters on the side quests sound a bit rubbish. There is one mission you come across early on called “Toy Story” where you have to collect a bear for one of the “Adult” survivors. It makes me wonder how stupid this character is as all she cares about is getting her teddy bear back in a situation like this? Sure well just send the 4 immune people to slaughter more Zombies to get your teddy bear back. I found her character the most annoying I have come across as it is a very pointless mission and character, this alone made me wonder about the voice acting. Other than that one issue that really annoyed me the soundtrack is brilliant and sound effects are very realistic especially on the weapons and when you hit/run over the zombies.
Overall – 4.5
Dead Island is probably the best action role playing game I have played. The game uses a lot of other games features and makes them unique and improves them just a bit more. Dead Island is defiantly a unique multiplayer Zombie title and really does have a deep solid storyline and gameplay elements. There is a lot to do in the game lasting up to 25+hours the game is great value for your money. There are a few minor errors that stops this game getting a 5/5 which is a shame but overall is a great package. Online gaming with 3 other players with no lag and no noticeable loading screens? Killing zombies couldn’t get better…