Dead Island – What a Deadly Good Time!

I would like to start this out by letting everyone know I love zombies. I read the books, watch every craptacular Z flick and play any game with even a whisper of the Z word. Some would say I am obsessed with the whole idea of a zombie apocalypse but better that than hookers and blow, right? As a kid nothing could scare me more than a group of slow moving dead people with nothing more than some body rot and a hunger for flesh. Is it so wrong to want to see this happen in reality and watch humanity prevail in the end? OK, enough ramblings. Lets get on the boat and head for Dead Island. The game opens on the island of Banoi with you walking into a concert at the Royal Palms Resort. You have some quick interaction with each of the playable characters before passing out in the hotel room. I won’t say much more to avoid spoiling a pretty decent opening to the first chapter. You will need to choose one of the four characters to begin the game. You have Logan, ex pro football player with the “hots” for throwing weapons; Sam, a washed up one hit rap star with a love for blunt objects; a women named Purna who specializes in guns, guns and more guns and last would be Xian the undercover Chinese cop who is an expert with sharp weapons. All of these characters come with a little more back story but still seem very stereotypical and one dimensional. As you awaken from your drunken slumber an evacuation is taking place at the royal palms resort. The only catch is the fact that you seem to be the only living person in the damn hotel. This first level is basically the “paint by numbers tutorial level” where you learn all the simple controls and functions while escaping the building. To me it seemed a little slow, but then again 70 percent of what I play is first person. Once you escape the hotel you will meet your first group of survivors. Your main quest begins with having to go outside with just a paddle (JUST A FREAKIN PADDLE! Come on, they are zombies man!) and save someone. The first time I was truly scared and jumped a little-I was right outside that door. A zombie came after me from the side, which not only caused me to jump but maybe I needed a moment to check my shorts. You beat down a few dead ones and move back inside. The combat itself was not spot on but worked and felt a lot like the condemned series. This is where I noticed my own ugly addiction rearing it’s head again. I am not going to lie to anyone or myself. I am addicted to looting and scavaging virtually. I have to check every nook and cranny or I feel cheated. Thank god I had so much laying around. If it was not luggage I pilfered it would be a body or a safe. Yeah I need help oh well don’t we all. I have not been able to feed the addiction this well since Borderlands or Fallout. This is where a lot of the comparisons start to games like Fallout, Borderlands, Left for Dead and the Dead Rising series. Personally I believe this to be a form of flattery on the part of Techland and Deep Silver Games. There was a lot borrowed but executed well enough that you did not feel like this was a knock off game. I used the weapons mod system which was a direct pull from Dead Rising. Techland made sure this was a useful and interesting option but not a requirement. So if you wanted to, you could skip Modding and just repair or upgrade the stock weapon. I found myself digging in a lot of nasty trash cans like a crack head, for just one more battery or glue to get the next mod. I also loved the nods to other game titles with some of the mods. Assassins Creed comes to mind along with Nail’d. From here on out it is the standard escort him/her, get this item, save that person quest types for pretty much the entire game. On the side of the main game hangs a massive amount of side quests, which tend to pay well or give you a mod you would not get otherwise. On my entire play through of the main quest I completed about 30 percent of the optional or side quests. You can accept any quest and it will stay active on your list for when you want to do it. I recommend accepting all so when you find an odd item you know what it is for (I.E. When a 20 yr old female survivor wants nothing more than her Teddy bear. Wtf?!?! How about a ride to safety and all the stuffed animals you can handle.) I did get bored with the side quests once I hit about level 17 and stuck with the main story from then on. The story is pretty cheesy B movie stuff but why not? I mean come on this is about zombies for god sake. Many of the side quests were forgettable if not laughable at best. I mean come on, Latsvania do you really need champagne to party all night? There are flesh eating bastards everywhere! This game also did an amazing job at causing me to have “controller seizures (freaking out and twisting or squeezing a game controller while verbally assaulting a TV screen)” at least every thirty minutes when I would die and be re-spawned right on top of the a-holes who killed me 10 seconds ago. This led to at least a handful of deaths and respawns before you would be in a position where you even had a chance at winning this battle. This only got worse and more frustrating when you were escorting someone. I almost snapped my controller in half while trying to get through the village late in the game with Mr. Witch doctor. The village was full of super zombies and walkers. You needed to defeat them all and keep dummy alive with no armor. The profane words that rang out from my living room would have made a porn star blush. The graphics were actually a lot better than I expected. I was really worried about slow down when there were too many on screen NPCs (non player characters). It seemed to be when you would use a Molotov or cause an explosion. I also became pretty annoyed with the slow mo on a kill shot. When fighting multiples that would kill my timing and also pull me out of the moment. Looking from any distance was a bummer also because there would be nothing moving anywhere and then bam- as you walk zombies would materialize. Also a good number of clipping issues where things would pop in and out. This happened to me with a propane tank where it was there and then was not but I could pick it up. I also noticed some pixelation with the smoke effects namely in the sewers. Zombies would pop in and out from time to time. I found it massively annoying to defeat a super zombie like a ram and have one pop up because I backed up 20 feet to loot a bag. The controls did take some getting used to. Most gamers will have no problem picking this title up and decimating zombies right away. Movement did seem to lack in feeling smooth when turning and moving around objects. Objects thrown did not seem to carry a realistic amount of weight when thrown. The menu functions left a little to be desired. I specifically did not like how long and clunky it was to switch weapons into the slots. If a weapon is junk an auto switch to the next available “banked” weapon would have been nice. The driving controls left a lot to be desired because they seemed super clunky. Most times regardless of the vehicle I felt like it was a massive square brick I was piloting. The driving did seem to improve in the second half of the game… well either that or I adjusted to driving a tank. The controls with hand held weapons was ultra satisfying. I spent plenty of hours just dismembering and cutting away at enemies just to see a different death. Decapitations were easily the most satisfying of all attacks. The audio was top notch in my book. The constant screams had you fearing every turn or doorway. The sound fx while battling the undead were also pretty solid. The score was very atmospheric and did a great job delivering whatever scene was taking place. It was very cool that they used some sound effects to warn you of baddies. I remember coming around a corner. I could hear the moans and screams. The other sound was ripping flesh and something eating. As I slowly crept around the corner a scene of zombies feasting on a corpse was right before me. So with my venom modded machete I made short work of the walkers and moved on. My initial play through was a solo effort and well worth it. Playing solo did make the game that much harder and I did not realize that until partaking in some CO OP. In coop it was so much easier to defeat any of the special classes like the ram or thug variations. The story also moved along at a much more rapid pace with 4 people completing tasks versus one. The major point of suck was the fact you need all players present to advance the main story. We all know on-line play can be very frustrating when you have a teammate that is not playing along or as a part of the team. This led to a handful of frustrating quits for myself and others because there is no way to make others be present. Would it have been that hard to add a forced placement option for the stragglers? I also noticed that when playing solo you had the same cut scenes as if you played a group. This did pull me out of the experience a little because I was constantly referred to as a group when in reality I was solo. I did a great job of making the player feel a real sense of dread. This game is truly about survival and at the least it will test your ability to keep from taking the dirt nap. Overall I would say Techland surpassed my expectations along with many others. As with any title this ambitious you will see issues and believe me, I did. Fortunately the good well out weighs the bad. Yes they did borrow many things but in this day and age who is not? You had the skill tree from Fallout 3, weapons mods from Dead Rising, enemy types pulled from Left for Dead; all executed well if not better than where they borrowed from. The idea of a completely original IP is almost unheard of in gaming this day and age. In a very over crowded sea of sequels and shooters I welcome games that tastefully borrow with open arms. The game opens on the island of Banoi with you walking into a concert at the Royal Palms Resort. You have some quick interaction with each of the playable characters before passing out in the hotel room. I won’t say much more to avoid spoiling a pretty decent opening to the first chapter. You will need to choose one of the four characters to begin the game. You have Logan, ex pro football player with the “hots” for throwing weapons; Sam, a washed up one hit rap star with a love for blunt objects; a women named Purna who specializes in guns, guns and more guns and last would be Xian the undercover Chinese cop who is an expert with sharp weapons. All of these characters come with a little more back story but still seem very stereotypical and one dimensional. As you awaken from your drunken slumber an evacuation is taking place at the royal palms resort. The only catch is the fact that you seem to be the only living person in the damn hotel. This first level is basically the “paint by numbers tutorial level” where you learn all the simple controls and functions while escaping the building. To me it seemed a little slow, but then again 70 percent of what I play is first person. Once you escape the hotel you will meet your first group of survivors. Your main quest begins with having to go outside with just a paddle (JUST A FREAKIN PADDLE! Come on, they are zombies man!) and save someone. The first time I was truly scared and jumped a little-I was right outside that door. A zombie came after me from the side, which not only caused me to jump but maybe I needed a moment to check my shorts. You beat down a few dead ones and move back inside. The combat itself was not spot on but worked and felt a lot like the condemned series. This is where I noticed my own ugly addiction rearing it’s head again. I am not going to lie to anyone or myself. I am addicted to looting and scavaging virtually. I have to check every nook and cranny or I feel cheated. Thank god I had so much laying around. If it was not luggage I pilfered it would be a body or a safe. Yeah I need help oh well don’t we all. I have not been able to feed the addiction this well since Borderlands or Fallout. This is where a lot of the comparisons start to games like Fallout, Borderlands, Left for Dead and the Dead Rising series. Personally I believe this to be a form of flattery on the part of Techland and Deep Silver Games. There was a lot borrowed but executed well enough that you did not feel like this was a knock off game. I used the weapons mod system which was a direct pull from Dead Rising. Techland made sure this was a useful and interesting option but not a requirement. So if you wanted to, you could skip Modding and just repair or upgrade the stock weapon. I found myself digging in a lot of nasty trash cans like a crack head, for just one more battery or glue to get the next mod. I also loved the nods to other game titles with some of the mods. Assassins Creed comes to mind along with Nail’d. From here on out it is the standard escort him/her, get this item, save that person quest types for pretty much the entire game. On the side of the main game hangs a massive amount of side quests, which tend to pay well or give you a mod you would not get otherwise. On my entire play through of the main quest I completed about 30 percent of the optional or side quests. You can accept any quest and it will stay active on your list for when you want to do it. I recommend accepting all so when you find an odd item you know what it is for (I.E. When a 20 yr old female survivor wants nothing more than her Teddy bear. Wtf?!?! How about a ride to safety and all the stuffed animals you can handle.) I did get bored with the side quests once I hit about level 17 and stuck with the main story from then on. The story is pretty cheesy B movie stuff but why not? I mean come on this is about zombies for god sake. Many of the side quests were forgettable if not laughable at best. I mean come on, Latsvania do you really need champagne to party all night? There are flesh eating bastards everywhere! This game also did an amazing job at causing me to have “controller seizures (freaking out and twisting or squeezing a game controller while verbally assaulting a TV screen)” at least every thirty minutes when I would die and be re-spawned right on top of the a-holes who killed me 10 seconds ago. This led to at least a handful of deaths and respawns before you would be in a position where you even had a chance at winning this battle. This only got worse and more frustrating when you were escorting someone. I almost snapped my controller in half while trying to get through the village late in the game with Mr. Witch doctor. The village was full of super zombies and walkers. You needed to defeat them all and keep dummy alive with no armor. The profane words that rang out from my living room would have made a porn star blush. The graphics were actually a lot better than I expected. I was really worried about slow down when there were too many on screen NPCs (non player characters). It seemed to be when you would use a Molotov or cause an explosion. I also became pretty annoyed with the slow mo on a kill shot. When fighting multiples that would kill my timing and also pull me out of the moment. Looking from any distance was a bummer also because there would be nothing moving anywhere and then bam- as you walk zombies would materialize. Also a good number of clipping issues where things would pop in and out. This happened to me with a propane tank where it was there and then was not but I could pick it up. I also noticed some pixelation with the smoke effects namely in the sewers. Zombies would pop in and out from time to time. I found it massively annoying to defeat a super zombie like a ram and have one pop up because I backed up 20 feet to loot a bag. The controls did take some getting used to. Most gamers will have no problem picking this title up and decimating zombies right away. Movement did seem to lack in feeling smooth when turning and moving around objects. Objects thrown did not seem to carry a realistic amount of weight when thrown. The menu functions left a little to be desired. I specifically did not like how long and clunky it was to switch weapons into the slots. If a weapon is junk an auto switch to the next available “banked” weapon would have been nice. The driving controls left a lot to be desired because they seemed super clunky. Most times regardless of the vehicle I felt like it was a massive square brick I was piloting. The driving did seem to improve in the second half of the game… well either that or I adjusted to driving a tank. The controls with hand held weapons was ultra satisfying. I spent plenty of hours just dismembering and cutting away at enemies just to see a different death. Decapitations were easily the most satisfying of all attacks. The audio was top notch in my book. The constant screams had you fearing every turn or doorway. The sound fx while battling the undead were also pretty solid. The score was very atmospheric and did a great job delivering whatever scene was taking place. It was very cool that they used some sound effects to warn you of baddies. I remember coming around a corner. I could hear the moans and screams. The other sound was ripping flesh and something eating. As I slowly crept around the corner a scene of zombies feasting on a corpse was right before me. So with my venom modded machete I made short work of the walkers and moved on. My initial play through was a solo effort and well worth it. Playing solo did make the game that much harder and I did not realize that until partaking in some CO OP. In coop it was so much easier to defeat any of the special classes like the ram or thug variations. The story also moved along at a much more rapid pace with 4 people completing tasks versus one. The major point of suck was the fact you need all players present to advance the main story. We all know on-line play can be very frustrating when you have a teammate that is not playing along or as a part of the team. This led to a handful of frustrating quits for myself and others because there is no way to make others be present. Would it have been that hard to add a forced placement option for the stragglers? I also noticed that when playing solo you had the same cut scenes as if you played a group. This did pull me out of the experience a little because I was constantly referred to as a group when in reality I was solo. I did a great job of making the player feel a real sense of dread. This game is truly about survival and at the least it will test your ability to keep from taking the dirt nap. Overall I would say Techland surpassed my expectations along with many others. As with any title this ambitious you will see issues and believe me, I did. Fortunately the good well out weighs the bad. Yes they did borrow many things but in this day and age who is not? You had the skill tree from Fallout 3, weapons mods from Dead Rising, enemy types pulled from Left for Dead; all executed well if not better than where they borrowed from. The idea of a completely original IP is almost unheard of in gaming this day and age. In a very over crowded sea of sequels and shooters I welcome games that tastefully borrow with open arms.

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Christopher Young, Game Reviews, Games
I am a writer/reviewer for the lovely Horror-fix.com and Movieboozer.com. I love Horror, video games and coffee. Currently I spend my days hunting sparkly vampires.

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