Review – Dead Island
Note: We’ve tried not to include any spoilers in this game, but certain things such as Game Locations (and more) might come up in the review
Zombies, Huge open areas, large number of side-quests and a whole lot of killing. Those were the main reasons that I decided to pick up and play Dead Island. That, and the fact that this was a game everyone was talking about even before it came out! It took me just under 20 hours to finish the game according to the game’s stats – 100% game storyline completion. Within that time, I managed to finish 37% of the side quests, complete 100% of in-game achievements, and killed just over 1,500 zombies (not to mention I died 100 times). One thing about this game, is that it is catered mostly for multiplayer games, but you can play it in single player mode as well like I did. The only problem with that is that the cutscenes acts like you’re playing with 3 other players and the cutscenes seem to show all the playable characters in it, which is hugely frustrating. The one thing however that really drew me into the game was the trailer below.
So how good is the actual game? Read on to find out.
Gameplay: The game is divided into 4 areas, and you get to each one after you complete a certain amount of the game. You basically start out with some pretty poor weapons and as you kill enough zombies, you level up which allows you to use a certain better weapons (mostly melee). The fighting style is slightly different than you’re used to (on the PC like we played it on) and it does take a while to get used to, but it can get fun after a while (especially when you take a zombies head off with a single slash). To keep it fresh and exciting, you can get different mods throughout the game which allows you to upgrade, repair (yes weapons take damage), and modify weapons (such as a samurai sword which has a 5% chance to electrocute a zombie). Furthermore, there are at least a hundred side quests to take during the game where you can get more money, items, or mods. The odd thing here was unlike in tv shows and movies, guns were far less effective with headshots than melee weapons. Unless you had a shotgun, it was impossible to kill any zombie with a headshot which was annoying. Some things like the fact that every suit case had money in it (do you ever put money in your suitcase?), trash cans had proper functioning items in them made the game slightly realistic (you know, if zombies were real). The game revolves around money, but one would think if a Zombie Apocalypse really did occur, money would be useless. Either way, it meant you had to do a lot of digging around for cash (and zombies you killed dropped them as well).
Furthermore, there were many kinds of zombies, some of which made your life very difficult. The sound that some zombies made when they were enraged and chasing your was extremely realistic, and not to mention scary. The sound of raged zombies chasing me still haunts me now, it’s not something I’m going to be forgetting any time soon. As much as I would like to go through killing every zombie in sight (impossible by the way, there are just too many no matter how many people you’re playing with), I found myself having to run through areas to avoid being clawed and bitten to death. I wish the game was made slightly different for single player mode, but I guess it wouldn’t have made much of a difference in the end. This game is as gruesome as it is violent, so be wary if this isn’t your type of game.
Storyline: The game is set in the fictional island of Banoi, located off the coast of Papua New Guinea, and most people having Australian accents makes one think it’s an Australian Colony. The island of Banoi is meant to be a popular tourist destination where people come from all over the world to visit, including celebrities and wealthy folks. You wake up in your room in a hotel after a massive drinking session only to find yourself in a completely deserted floor, where it looks like a tornado just swept up everything. You soon find yourself in the middle of a zombie virus outbreak, where you find out that you are one of the only people on the island (of those alive) completely immune to the virus (though we never figure out how or why). The game results in you trying to find a man on the radio who’s been communicating with you, who says he has a way off the island, and considering that there is no other way off the island, you are forced to work with him. While on the island, you also encounter different groups of survivors who have holed out somewhere and you help them complete tasks to move the story along.
Frankly, we thought the entire story could have done with some more work as I for one was never fully engrossed in it. I found my attention waning at times, then wanting to finish the scene to find out what would happen next, and so on. In the end, it took me over 3 weeks to finish this game, just because it wouldn’t hold my attention long enough to keep playing long sessions. The premise is simple enough, but after all this time, you do feel a bit disappointed by the ending which made you wonder if the game really was finished or if you had just got to another section of the game. Decent, but overall not as exciting as one would hope from a game about zombies.
Graphics: Interestingly enough the Zombies look pretty good here, not that you will really be able to notice as you try and hack their heads off before they get to you. Environments look really good here when they’re up close, and it really feels like you’re in a city or jungle or wherever you are. The cutscenes however aren’t great in the graphics department as it seems half-finished, unpolished, and the voice acting to the game is fairly rubbish in Dead Island. It sort of feels like you’ve got a time gap between the words and the movements of the mouth, pretty disappointing that. Apart from that, you’ll see a lot of video flicker in the backgrounds, because this game is buggy as all hell. Yep, sorry to disappoint, but we’ve seen some ridiculously buggy issues in this game that we sometimes don’t even see in beta versions of games (and this is after the patch too!). At one point we accidentally backed our car into another car, and some how the car got a 3 meter jack up as the wheels were still touching the ground, but the car was 3 meters up in the air, peering over the other car. Worst of all it was stuck.
Does it take away from the actual gameplay? Without a doubt. Heck, you could even see zombies with half their face and arms through the doors (and then be able to attack them while a solid steel door was still shut. It’s clear the game still lacks the polish it needed to be able to be a great game. On the gameplay side, it was pretty heavy on our computer (an Alienware M17x r2) and it was more graphically challenging than our last game review of Deus Ex, fair enough considering how much the game was rendering while you played.
Game Value: I suppose the game did take me just under 20 hours to complete on my first run, although it wasn’t the most enjoyable 20 hours. It was frustrating at times, bugs started to really annoy us and so did the zombies. On the plus side, we’re sure if you went out of your way to complete 100% of the sidequests, you’d be looking at a 30 hour + game, which is pretty solid for your money. On top of that, you’ve got Multiplayer as well (same game, just easier with friends – trust us). Would we have enjoyed this game much more had we played it on multiplayer mode? Probably, but considering the game is catered for single player as well, we’re not sure how many people will always play the game online, so overall we’re not the most impressed with this game especially coming off the back of such a great game such as Deus Ex (unfair comparisons, but such is life).