Dead Island is a game with some bugs and issues. However, the good found in this game greatly outweigh the bad that is seen firsthand. Dead Island is a fantastic, deep game that will keep your hands on that controller for days – perhaps even weeks – to come. What makes Dead Island so fantastic and unique? Read on to find out.
Concept and Delivery
Dead Island is about as simple as can be. Pick a character (four choices, each with a unique skill tree and weapon specialties) and set out for survival. While the idea is pretty simple, it makes for a damn good time. The game starts you off in a hotel, waking up to surrounding zombie infestation across the area. The game’s opening sequence serves great purpose in introducing one of the many RPG elements seen in the game – looting. Be prepared to do lots of it. It also serves a great deal in getting used to the controls of the game. This is where your quest for survival begins, as you are stranded on an island across the coast of Papua New Guinea. The story isn’t getting to get anybody wounded up. It is pretty basic and barebones, hardly revealing any details as to where the zombies came from and why the main characters are immune to the disease. The cutscenes are less than great, and prove to be merely for show as most of the time they don’t deliver any true importance. This is, again, due to the lack of deep story within the game.
Despite that gripe, everything else makes up for the lackluster story in every way. Dead Island’s environment is massive, so setting off with your character of choice is certainly going to be an incredible one. Each character has their own specialty in weapons – Sam B, blunt weapons; Xian Mei, sharp weapons; Purna, firearms; Logan, throwing weapons. Each character also comes packed with their own unique skill tree and fury power. Each skill tree is composed of several upgrades and abilities that can be further upgraded with skill points earned through leveling up. While players may become attached to one character, Dead Island proves to be even more fun when customizing several characters to the best of your ability. This adds an incredible amount of depth when it comes to character building. Whether you’re looking to build on strength or survival skills, Dead Island is sure to make you feel like you are truly preparing yourselves for a zombie apocalypse.
Dead Island also borrows elements from other games, such as Borderlands and Dead Rising. As can be told by recent statements, Dead Island brings with it many RPG elements. The game also incorporates a weapon customization system which bears a strong resemblance to Dead Rising’s very own weapon customization system. Despite that, some of the weapon mixes are incredibly unique mixes. Want a machete that can electrocute a zombie upon strike? Or how about a bomb made of deodorant? Well, Dead Rising allows you to do just that. Firearms can even be customized with electric rounds and the such! The mixes are endless, and can even be upgraded further by leveling up the weapons using money earned from looting and mission completion. With that, I’m bring in yet another valid point that makes Dead Island one of the greatest zombie video games released to date.
Dead Island’s main story course will run you the standard ten hour completion rate, not including the side missions. I make sure to emphasize the “without side missions” portion of that statement. Upon starting the game, players witness a vast amount of white exclamation marks, which indicates a side missions. There are hundreds upon hundreds of side missions, each unique in their own way. Some are indeed weirder than others – collecting a teddy is one worth remembering – while others are worth remembering by the massive packs of undead coming your way. Either way, there is a massive amount of hours one can spend playing Dead Island. With that great amount of replayability and weapon variety, players are sure to have a blast with Dead Island for the months to come.
Dead Island plays out in the first person perspective, but one should be careful to not call this a first person shooter. Dead Island is anything but. While there are firearms in the game, the weapons and ammo are scarce. Dead Island focuses more on melee combat, which works out better. Players are left to find items around the massive environment to help them survive. Controls can take a bit of getting used to, but once players become comfortable to the scheme, it is rather simple and easy to use. Players are also given the ability to change the combat controls to analog, which adds much more realism to the combat. In analog, players use the analog to swing their weapon in the direction they wish to move, rather than the back and fourth notion seen in the standard controls. Despite the added realism with this scheme, it does get a bit difficult to use when you have five or six zombies running at you at full speed. Players can also drive vehicles to transport around the island quicker. Driving controls are a bit clunky, and the viewpoint is rather difficult to get used to, even after several driving occasions. This could have been avoided with the ability to change the driving viewpoint, but unfortunately, that wasn’t implemented. Other than having to get used to the control scheme, Dead Island’s gameplay is superb on a variety of levels. The game also supports full four player, jump-in/out co-op. This is certainly the best way to play the game. Bringing three other friends for a zombie massacre is one hell of a time. However, while Dead Island exceeds other zombie games, it does manage to sink in numerous ways.
Aesthetics and Bugs
Dead Island’s visuals are undoubtedly the biggest issue of the game. Character animations are ludicrous, and on certain occasions, hilariously bad. The details are severely lacking, and the very few cutscenes in the game are severely lacking. Despite the lacking details in both character animations and set pieces, Dead Island does manage to craft some unique environments all the way around. The main island packs some lush pieces and vibrant colors, while the sewer levels are dark and eerie in every sense possible. What was not put into the character details was definitely thrown into the work behind the environmental pieces. One fact worth noting is the amount of uniqueness behind each zombie’s design. Standard zombies – walkers, infected, etc. – almost all look unique in their own way. You will hardly see two of the exact same zombies. However, that standard is ignored when it comes to other zombie types – thugs, rams, suiciders and butchers. Despite that, those zombies each pack their own unique design that makes them creepy and terrifying in their own way. Heaven knows how many times I jumped because of a ram coming at me at full speed without me knowing.
Sound is definitely something worth praising in Dead Island. It is clear that Dead Island is attempting to put players in the role of the character trying to survive this zombie apocalypse on the island they are found in. The developers did a great job in doing so by providing an eerie setting with wonderful sound effects. From the little things like the zombie growls in the distance to the more extravagant pieces like the loud screech of an infected coming towards you from a much farther distance. There are also several occasions in which a soft, melodic tune plays in the background. The song bears a slight resemblance to the track heard in the reveal trailer for Dead Island. It all adds to the eerie vibe of being one of the few survivors in a zombie apocalypse.
With that, I have many gripes with Dead Island regarding the numerous bugs and glitches that managed to slip by unnoticed. There are several graphical glitches, such as floating blood and pieces like hands appearing through doors and characters breaking into the wall. There are also some game ruining bugs, such as problems with the mini-map’s mission path. With all that, there is even worse bugs that could probably tempt players to trading in their game at their local retail store. One of these includes a saving issue in which a “Game Saved” notification is showing, but the data actually hasn’t saved. If it goes unnoticed, players will have to start all the way back from the last time the game actually has saved, meaning a possible loss in a lot of data. With the amount of fun one can have with this game, it is hard to “bug” it for its bugs. However, some of these are too clear and blatant to go by unnoticed. The game definitely needed a bit more time before it was released on shelves. With that, Techland has stated a patch is on the way for all systems.
Dead Island is a fantastic game. Merging elements from a variety of games and throwing zombies into the mix crafts a fantastic piece of work. Although the main story is lacking, the amount of replayability found in the game makes up for that in every way possible. Each playable character is unique in their own way, and co-op enhances this already great experience. Graphics are sub-par, and the graphical glitches don’t help make that any better. A number of game ruining bugs bring down the experience a few notches, but all in all Dead Island is one of the best zombie games out there. With a ton of weapon mixes, hundreds of side missions, a main story quest and a fantastic co-op experience, Dead Island is sure to keep zombie fans busy for the months to come.
- Four unique characters that are customizeable to your liking, each with a unique skill tree add great depth to building character
- A true zombie apocalypse survival test
- Tons of weapons and weapon mixes and a boatload of side missions, each unique in their own way
- Simple control scheme, after getting used to
- Fantastic co-op experience
- Beautiful environments and fantastic sound pieces
- Lacking story, with failure to answer questions like “where did the zombies come from” and “why are we immune”
- Pretty bad character animations and poor details
- Tons of graphical glitches, and game killing bugs
- Poor driving controls