In this console generation, Zombie games are a dime a dozen. To truly make it in the well-stocked market, one has to separate itself from the undead pack by offering things that no one else has done before – that, or combine everything you love from most multiplayer co-op games and add in a kick ass Zombie-infested map. The latter sums up Techland and Deep Silver’s Dead Island. But just because a game boasts several tried and true features, doesn’t mean that it has to work. Does it work for Dead Island? Or should this corpse be left to rot?
Dead Island features four characters, each with specific specialty. Purna is a firearms expert, Logan is best at throwing things, Xian is a sharp-weapon enthusiast, and Sam B is best with blunt objects – my personal favorite. Much of your enjoyment will come from selecting the character style that best suits you.
“Dead Island”, otherwise known as the island of Banoi, seems to be a tropical oasis at first, though, as soon as the game starts you realize it’s the farthest thing from paradise. The game kicks off with a prologue–essentially a tutorial–which familiarizes you with the controls and teaching you the ins and outs of Dead Island. Although the game is focused around co-op, the prologue has you by your lonesome. Once the real game starts, and you see just how bad things have become, you’ll immediately do everything in your power to get the fuck off this island – or die trying.
Dead Island‘s massive open-world is a character on its own. Every inch of the island is yours to explore, but if you don’t go in fully prepared, you will be attacked by Zombies, and lots of ’em. As with most open-world games, there are missions that contribute to your main quest of completing the game, but there are also tons of side-quests to check out along the way. The side-quests not only range in difficulty, but also in the reward. Typically, more difficult side-quests will result in a much larger reward, such as more money or better items. Exploration is vital to finding all items, quests, etc. but the more exploring you do, the more Zombies you will encounter.
Dead Island is about survival. The odds seem insurmountable; there are Zombies at every turn, and there’s barely ever a chance to rest. Keep moving and don’t hesitate – the Zombies sure as shit aren’t going to.
While the game can be played solo, you’d be foolish to take on Dead Island by yourself. This game was designed with co-op in mind, and it shows. Either play with friends, or pop-in with others who happen to be in the same area as you. Up to four players can play at once, and is the key to surviving the endless onslaught of the undead. You’ll need the help, too – someone has got to watch your back, and you’ll have to repay the favor. Otherwise you can find yourself overwhelmed very easily.
You’re up against an unwavering Zombie outbreak, and the undead come at you from all angles. What’s worse, there’s many different Zombie types, each with different traits. Early on, you will encounter “walkers”. And although they do “walk”, they’ll also run straight at you if they notice you. “Infected” Zombies are fast (aren’t all Zombies infected?), too fast, especially until you get a hang of the game. Often you’ll be attacked before you ever see them coming. Eventually, you’ll come across “Thugs” – these ones are a pain in the ass to take down, especially if playing solo. You must strategize before attacking, because they are extremely strong and have a ton of health. These are only a few of the Zombie types you’ll find in Dead Island.
The combat is easily the best part of the game. Fight with fists, melee weapons, guns, swords, etc. Depending on the character you’ve chosen, certain weapons will be more effective (or less effective, depends). Weapons degrade over time, and can completely break, leaving you defenseless. You’ll constantly have to watch your inventory, upgrading and fixing them when necessary. This adds a touch of RPG to the game, and gives you reason to complete side-quests and explore the island.
With an island so vast, and being under constant attack, you may opt for fast travel. These are only possible in certain locations. Alternatively, you could hop in one of the vehicles. The controls suck, but mowing down rows of mindless Zombies is so fun, it more than makes up for the frustrating controls.
Unfortunately, the game is littered with bugs and glitches. At times the framerate slows down and stutters – it can be so much of an annoyance that it affects the overall enjoyability of the title. It seemed to happen more often while playing co-op, than it did when I was playing solo.
Dead Island is a decent game with a great premise behind it: A huge, Zombie-filled, open-world with a tropical island setting, that you’re able to explore with friends. Throw in an endless supply of Zombies aiming to kill you at every moment, and the devs would have had to really fuck things up for the game not to be fun. However, technical issues and some repetitiveness keep it from being labeled as great.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
+ Great co-op experience.
– Bugs and framerate issues hold this game back from being “great”.