Look, I’m not the biggest fan of zombie pop culture. I know our society is fascinated with the “what if” of the Un-dead but I’m honestly tired of it. However, now and then a game pops up that incorporates the flesh-eating antagonists that doesn’t make me think “I swear I’ve seen this before”. I was super skeptical of this franchise prior to reviewing it and while it has…a good amount of bumps and bruises (or rotting flesh), it’s still a pretty exciting and intense game. Dead Island, specifically the Game of the Year version, okie-doked me with some reminiscent gameplay of recent action titles with RPG elements and I got sucked in. Either way, below is a quick run down for those who may have played the game but want to know more about the GOTY edition and those who avoided it at first, much like I did.
- I have to say this game, in my opinion, rivals Dead Space for the most engaging and suspenseful audio tracks. The music, the screeching howls from nearby zombies, the droning noises that fill this game add such a heavy level of interactive attachment to the current situation within the game. I think it does a great job at starting off that ominous eerie feeling at the kick-start of the game. Sound is by far one of the most important portions of “horror” related games and I think Techland nailed it there.
- The inventory system, condition of your weapons and of course a great addition, fast travel, all play a large role in making this game enjoyable…for however long you choose to play it. Being adaptive to the situation and cautious of what you choose to carry is always something a slight analytically minded person like myself tends to enjoy. I think there is a good variety of weaponry and I understand they at least have to attempt to keep it realistic of what you would find on a tropic tourist destination. If it got a bit wacky, I believe it would have lost a little luster. I’m choosing to ignore the weird “Fallout”-esqe weapons but hey, who doesn’t love a flaming machete?
- I really like the first and last part of the game and it’s locations. Not many current titles explore the “what if” behind survival on some island. That is usually kept for snowy cityscapes and barren wastelands. It was a nice change of location.
- It can be a rather long game if you choose to explore and do a majority of the missions provided. I tend to wander in open world games, which isn’t always a good thing in Dead Island but I have at least put in 15 hours with little less than an hour to two to go. I’m sure it is possible to do it in under 10 hours but I don’t want to speed run things like this. I love titles that give me so much to do and so much free will in how I choose to tackle them. I mean it’s the typical “fetch this”, “twist this valve”, “save this idiot” trend but at least the intensity stays around for a majority of the game. I don’t think this game would have been as enjoyable if the opening and “ending” wouldn’t have been so strong.
- I’m a bit torn on this but I enjoyed playing the first part of the game alone for the majority of the time. I think it really added to the consuming nature of this game. I mean traveling alone down a now desolate beach was pretty intimidating knowing that every dead body could be some reanimated corpse waiting to strike. I know this game is scripted to be played with friends but maybe you should try it out alone first, then find some goof online that has 14 numbers in his name and likes to do things his own way. You’re probably reading this part and laughing but I get into everything I do. I just immerse myself best I can and let the game take me where it’s supposed to.
- Unfortunately this list has some major issues that cloud the games overall feeling. The first being the graphics. I played this on 360 and I was surprised, even on a Game of the Year edition, how much pop-in and low-res textures are littered throughout this game. I ignore this issue in other games where the other working parts do a great job of covering technical or graphical issues up but unfortunately Dead Island doesn’t have that kind of “support”. I mean there are plenty of good-looking things in this game (water, the jungle/beach locations,etc) but it becomes marred by the unfortunate low quality that plagues this game at parts. I assumed that because this game was re-packaged, with a slight upgrade in terms of fixes. I still don’t know how this game got GOTY status.
- I loved the Beach and Jungle portions of the game. I did not, however, enjoy the shanty-town, mid-game experience. It felt like a poor-mans Resident Evil 4. It just felt like that portion of the game was shoved in because “hey it’s an island, it needs a slummy village area to cap it off”. The other portions of the game had a “new” vibe to it because honestly how many survival games have you played on a tropical resort island? Just Cause doesn’t count…
- Every mission that requires you to work with or around NPC’s is a total headache. The AI for these characters is beyond stupid. Granted there are a decent handful of NPC moments, they tend to happen in extremely important main quest situations. I wanted to leave a character in the shanty-town district to his own demise because I became fed up with his inability to fight back and his poor sense of “awareness”.
- There are times where the hit detection is off. Sure it doesn’t happen often…except when you’re surrounded by 10 zombies. There are plenty of times I aimed for a specific body part or just swung in general that I didn’t get the desired result. I understand it has a level of intensity to maintain but if I calculate a situation out to semi-perfection, I’d like a reward better than 1/60th of my health bar left…
- The story is extremely underwhelming and the cut-scenes are 99% worth skipping. Honestly, I stopped caring about what was going on near the first quarter of the game. It doesn’t help that your “NPC” co-op partners show up randomly when playing alone. Where were these guys when I needed them? Don’t expect any award-winning scenario out of this hack and slash.
- I think the DLC is a pretty laughable. The “Arena” add on is much like a tacked on “Horde” mode for those who just want to smack the crap out of the undead. The Ryder White portion has a better story than the main single player and it adds some pretty interesting weapon types but overall I just felt like it was not worth the 2 hours I put into it. Still, how did this game get a GOTY edition?