Review

Review: Dead Island

After I saw the mesmerizing reverse slow-motion trailer for Dead Island I knew that I wanted to give the zombie action/adventure game some of my attention. I hoped that this would be a zombie game to remember; better than last year’s Dead Rising 2 which I didn’t fully enjoy. Unfortunately as I played through the game I couldn’t help but feel a little bit disappointed as to how the game had come together.

The premise of Dead Island is that you and your group of cohorts are immune to a zombie virus outbreak that has ravaged the pacific holiday island of Banoi, and you need to help get off the island as quickly as possible while helping the few remaining survivors. As you go along, you run into loads of zombies that naturally try and bite your head off and you smash them to pieces with a variety of weapons.

Story-wise a lot of the things that occur in Dead Island seem to be an excuse to move from place to place and kill zombies along the way. There are twists and turns plus a variety of characters make their appearances, but it’s definitely not a stellar or particularly memorable plot - it’s best to focus on the killing, the weapons and the gore.

Initially you must choose a character that has a particular weapon specialty. I played a bit with each of the characters and it doesn’t seem to play that much of a part in the overall game. Having four characters is designed for co-op, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t play single player (which is what I did mostly), and none of the characters have particularly great backgrounds or voice acting for that matter.

There was a particular oddity I picked up on as I progressed through the game as a lone solider, that is, without the available 4-player co-op: while actually gaming there is no sight of the other three members of your group, however they magically appear in the important cutscenes. Presumably this is due to the cutscenes being pre-rendered but it feels extremely out of place.

You move through four acts for a total of 18 chapters, and each act has a different location to accompany it. The most visually stunning and my favorite of them is the first “Resort” destination, which is laden with beautiful beaches, pools, palm trees and a nice island feel to it. The others weren’t as good (second best was the jungle), and at times I wished that more of the game’s events could have been located at the resort.

The game is quest based, with a main quest that needs to be completed along with side quests that you can attempt if you wish to extend your time on Banoi. As with a lot of quest-based games, the sidequests can feel derivative as you have to go and deliver this, kill these zombies, save such-and-such; I started off doing all sidequests I encountered but eventually gave up for this very reason.

When you’re not completing a quest you are free to roam the open-ended sandbox-style island and explore all it has to offer. Thanks to cars and quick travel maps you can reach places a lot more quickly as the areas on offer seem quite large, and scattered around are weapons, items and more sidequests. Free roam is something I’ve always enjoyed in a game and in Dead Island this is true, except I just wish the sidequests were a bit more exciting.

Still following the quest-based game model, there is a level system whereby each zombie killed and quest completed gives you experience (XP) that goes to your levelling up. With each level up you can unlock more abilities and gain more health to make your survival on the island that little bit easier. Choosing your upgrades can be hard, and you certainly won’t be unlocking all upgrades by the games end: I reached level 31 by the end and I didn’t even perform a third of the upgrades.

Then there are the weapons, and there are lots of them spread throughout the island and given away as quest rewards. Similar to the way Borderlands had a color-coded weapon system, Dead Island uses colors to indicate the rarity (I believe) of the weapons that you have. You can use loads of things to attack zombies with, ranging from your sturdy pipe and shovel right up to spiked bats, maces and katanas. Close-range weapons eventually break from bashing in too many zombie skulls and need repairing (at a cost); they also can be upgraded if you desire, and created from the random parts you find lying around.

The sheer number of weapons is one of the best parts of Dead Island. I preferred to use sharp weapons but it’s still awfully satisfying to see a zombies head fly off from a sledgehammer hit. You can also use guns, which come into the game at a later stage, although this style combat just doesn’t feel as satisfying as good old close-range weapons.

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26 Comments

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So for the people who bought this game, knowing what you know now would you purchase the game?

I wanted to buy it but am thinking I should wait for an offer on Steam. That port is really annoying too.

Must not have played much. The first patch did little.

Not to mention how its a total console port. Little graphical options Zero adjustments to the FOV that is making people sick without risking a VAC man if you play online. No options to turn off the stupid and insanely excessive motion blur (again without fearing a VAC ban if you play online).

7/10? Please. 2/10 tops with games like DX:HR that had a very good port.

necrosis said,
Must not have played much. The first patch did little.

Not to mention how its a total console port. Little graphical options Zero adjustments to the FOV that is making people sick without risking a VAC man if you play online. No options to turn off the stupid and insanely excessive motion blur (again without fearing a VAC ban if you play online).

7/10? Please. 2/10 tops with games like DX:HR that had a very good port.

So what are you rating, gameplay (the reason we buy games) or graphical options?

I agree, finished a singleplayer playthrough a few days ago and had a great time. As to the combat mentioned in the article, you should really learn to kick, if your just spamming attack of course you will run out of stamina and die.
Looking forward to playing through the game again with a few friends next week, and I hope the devs continue to patch the game, as it is pretty buggy.

Yet another good-concept game shat on by developers to make a quick buck. Thanks but no thanks! If I wanted a console game, I'd buy a ****ing console. If it wasn't for companies like Valve and Blizzard, PC gaming would've been dead by now.

bjoswald said,
Yet another good-concept game shat on by developers to make a quick buck. Thanks but no thanks! If I wanted a console game, I'd buy a ****ing console. If it wasn't for companies like Valve and Blizzard, PC gaming would've been dead by now.

What in the lords name are you talking about? This game is great on PC. Good lord, nowadays everyone wants to feel like a veteran PC player and talk **** about games just cause they were ported from a console. The game as updated now does not show one sign of consoles. It plays smooth and is great on the keyboard mouse, grow up, you will actually have a good time and enjoy it.

Why the hell would i want to use a control pad on a pc! If i wanted to use a control pad i would buy it for my xbox 360 or PS3.

TrekRich said,
Why the hell would i want to use a control pad on a pc! If i wanted to use a control pad i would buy it for my xbox 360 or PS3.

I use a controller for racing,platform and adventure games. For FPS/RTS I'm a mouse user all the way

TrekRich said,
Why the hell would i want to use a control pad on a pc! If i wanted to use a control pad i would buy it for my xbox 360 or PS3.

Personal preference for most. I use an xbox controller on my PC quite often now and it's becoming more the norm to have the gamepad mappings for an xbox controller included on the pc version.

Wow I'm looking at the second to last picture of the instruction to use the Right Stick to open that door yet you were playing on the PC. That's ridiculous...

Chaltalian said,
Wow I'm looking at the second to last picture of the instruction to use the Right Stick to open that door yet you were playing on the PC. That's ridiculous...

Because it's consolized. They want you to use a controller on your PC.

briangw said,

Because it's consolized. They want you to use a controller on your PC.

plays better that way anyways. Tried both and controller worked best.

briangw said,

Because it's consolized. They want you to use a controller on your PC.

No they don't, thats a bug related to the pc version's controller support. From what I saw on the forums some people were seeing the proper mouse icon, and some saw the thumbstick. Mine always shows a mouse. I'm rather sick of these "OH GAWD IT SHOWED A THUMBSTICK ONCE THERFORE ITS A DIRECT CONSOLE TO PC PORT" circlejerk reactions from pc gamers these days...

Personally I think the game plays perfectly with the mouse, I don't know how people are saying it works better with a controller. This game actually has a really nice mouse feel (no mouse acceleration at all, yay), disregarding the slow mouse in the menus.

Chaltalian said,
Wow I'm looking at the second to last picture of the instruction to use the Right Stick to open that door yet you were playing on the PC. That's ridiculous...

They have already corrected this on the latest update, it now shows a mouse going up and down.

ViperAFK said,

No they don't, thats a bug related to the pc version's controller support. From what I saw on the forums some people were seeing the proper mouse icon, and some saw the thumbstick. Mine always shows a mouse. I'm rather sick of these "OH GAWD IT SHOWED A THUMBSTICK ONCE THERFORE ITS A DIRECT CONSOLE TO PC PORT" circlejerk reactions from pc gamers these days...

Personally I think the game plays perfectly with the mouse, I don't know how people are saying it works better with a controller. This game actually has a really nice mouse feel (no mouse acceleration at all, yay), disregarding the slow mouse in the menus.

As stated before, it was fixed with an update. But still, it's consolized. No doubt about it from how uncanny it compares to the XBox version esp. in the graphics dept.

Edited by briangw, Sep 11 2011, 6:38pm :

briangw said,

As stated before, it was fixed with an update. But still, it's consolized. No doubt about it from how uncanny it compares to the XBox version esp. in the graphics dept.


Listen to what I'm saying. before the update some people saw a thumbstick and some saw a mouse. After the update everyone properly sees the mouse.

Lucas said,

They have already corrected this on the latest update, it now shows a mouse going up and down.

Actually this still showed for me post-update in the first half of the game. It magically disappeared mid way through but it still should never have been there.

ViperAFK said,

Listen to what I'm saying. before the update some people saw a thumbstick and some saw a mouse. After the update everyone properly sees the mouse.

That still doesn't excuse the ported version of this game which was what I was trying to convey.