Dead Island

DI1

When a viral outbreak creates an island full of zombies, four survivors must work together in order to save themselves as well as the other groups of desperate survivors holed up around the island.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. There is very much a place called Dead Island, and it’s basically Disneyland and Burning Man all wrapped up together in one fabulous package. It’s also a place the living are unwelcome, indeed, anyone who isn’t a zombie is unwelcome. Asshole vampires, like there’s any other kind, show up on the island all the time expecting to be welcomed with open arms and unfettered libidos because vampires are jerks like that, but just being undead isn’t enough to get an invitation. If that were the case, we wouldn’t let in the voodoo zombies that are still among the living. Personally, I kind of wish we did go with a full on no pulse policy because of what downers voodoo zombies can be, but we support our brothers and sisters among the living no matter what. I guess it all works out in the end being that I’d way rather deal with them than vampires, those guys are just dicks, but it’s hard to get your drink on and try to have a good time when you’ve got the slack jawed expression from a voodoo zombie staring right at you. You can’t really have a good conversation with them, they don’t party which is pretty much the entire point of being at Dead Island, and if you don’t feed them every few hours they get cranky as all hell. You can see why someone going to an island for a crazy time might not be too excited at the prospect of having to feed his brothers and sisters, but they do make great wingmen, so it somewhat balances out. Still, I’d rather have to take care of an entire group of voodoo zombies on Dead Island before having to deal with the crazy bastards on Banoi.

Our zombie killing spree begins on the fictional island of Banoi with four people who are each there for their own reasons, rapper Sam B., Chinese spy Xian, washed out football player Logan, and an ex-cop named Purna. After a night of hard partying, you (who you are depends on which character you decide to play as) wake up to find that the entire island has been overrun by flesh starved zombies that have either eaten or infected nearly everyone on the island. It seems you, as well as the other three playable characters, have an immunity to the infection, but that immunity won’t stop the zombies from devouring every last bit of that tasty human meat. Luckily, a mysterious voice over the intercom is there to guide you to safety and keep you from quickly becoming zombie chow. This voice guides you as long as it can, filling you in on the details as you escape, but it’s a lifeguard, another survivor of the previous night’s slaughter, who actually gets you to safety. Safety however does not equal survival. The small shelter located on the resort section of the island is unfortunately overcrowded and understocked. If you hope to make it off the island, you’ll have to explore its depths for supplies, and if you’re lucky, you might just find a way off of Banoi while you’re at it.

DI4

{Pick your poison}

If there’s one thing I love about our modern times, it’s the availability of so many interesting zombie video games. I can count on one hand the number of zombie games I was able to play as a kid, not that they didn’t show up here and there in games like Doom or Monkey Island, but few games were specifically zombie orientated. Now I can go to a used game store, anywhere but Game Stop preferably, and pick up a number of different ones. I consider this mostly a good thing. Why mostly a good thing instead of being freaking awesome? As with most forms of entertainment, popularity means lots of attempts to cash in, and there have certainly been a lot of attempts to make a bestselling zombie video game. I can happily say that I’ve found far more good zombie games than I have awful ones, and even some of the awful ones don’t seem so bad when I’m reminded that just because I suck at playing doesn’t mean the game is bad (I’ll figure out Left for Dead one of these days). Dead Island definitely falls into the good game category, though how much you enjoy it is mainly going to be determined by how much of a game you like to complete. Let’s look at why it’s a good game first.

DI3

{And you thought sane zombies were a problem}

Dead Island is an open world, survival horror game with an interesting mix of playable characters one can choose from, each with a specific skill set that can be upgraded as the game progresses and the player levels up. Sam B is a blunt weapons specialist and the toughest member of the four, Xian Mei is a bladed weapons specialist meaning she is capable of inflicting far more damage than the rest, Logan Carter is the jack of all trades character with a specialty in throwing weapons, and Purna is the firearms specialist. You can level up their skills to further the damage they cause and the damage they’re able to receive, but to fully enjoy the benefits of said skill sets, you’re going to need to find a weapon that fits their specialty: firearms, blunt weapons, bladed weapons, and throwing weapons. You can make those skills even more effective by upgrading the weapons you find. Scattered around the island are a plethora of weapons, everything from more recognizable weapons like baseball bats, knives, swords, and guns to less than reliable things like oars, wooden planks, and metal poles. Along with these weapons, you can also find items used to upgrade them, hardware and tools that can turn a regular item into a weapon of destruction. The most basic example of this is finding some nails to put in a baseball bat, but that bat can also have a battery attached to it in order to electrify it, a rag and some lighter fluid to create a fire stick, or some barbed wire and two saw blades to create a weapon that would have made Mad Max have an instantaneous orgasm. There is almost an infinite number of weapons variations to choose from, just find your weapon, find the items you need to upgrade it, and take it to a repair bench for the upgrade. You can also take most weapons to repair benches for repairs as well since most weapons will degrade with use to a point they are no longer useable, but a trek back to a repair bench should get that weapon to its good as new state.

DI5

{Maybe I should mention that trekking back isn’t always an easy thing to do}

Just because Dead Island wanted to make sure you have everything you need to survive Banoi, each character has a Fury skill that can be used to decimate your undead opponents as well. This comes in handy since there isn’t much peace your player will receive as he or she explores one end of the island to the next. Zombies are everywhere and have an annoying habit of popping up in unexpected places; I’ve made a habit of knowing when zombies are going to lunge out of nowhere and even I had more than a few moments where my head hit the ceiling (I have a very low ceiling). Not only are the aggressive bastards determined to end you, they look wonderful and truly terrifying, the way zombies should be. They come in three major flavors, your standard slow ones, your faster more aggressive ones, and the slow tanks that can’t come at you very fast but will take forever to kill. The story of how the zombies got there isn’t anything spectacular, more the standard zombie fare, but when you’re having this much fun killing them, does where they come from matter?

DI2

{It doesn’t is the answer to that question}

So if the zombies, characters, weapons, and graphics are great, and the story isn’t anything awful, then why don’t I care for this game? Side quests, that’s why. If you’re the type that just wants to finish a game, maybe doing a couple side missions here and there just for experience and cash, you’re going to love this game. If however you like to explore and do a multitude of side missions to better entrench yourself in the game, you’re going to hate it. Doing side missions can take anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour and a half per mission, and they start to feel repetitive after a while, in fact, even killing the zombies starts to feel repetitive after a while on these side missions, to the point you don’t even want to kill the zombies anymore. When a game makes killing zombie boring, you have a problem. There is just no way to do these missions without having to kill the same eight or nine zombie types over and over again, and it gets boring as all hell. When I came back after quitting and just finished up the game, it was a lot more enjoyable, so that’s where the decision to play is going to come down to. If you just want to play a zombie game and get right through it, I think you’ll really like this, but if you, like me, enjoy playing side missions, I’d keep looking for a more exciting game.

 

The Undead Review

 

Developed By: Techland

Published By: Deep Silver and Square Enix

Platform: PlayStation, XBOX, and Windows

Release Year: 2011

ESRB Rating: M for Mature

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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