Friday, September 16, 2011

Dead Island Review

Zombie games are definitely getting old. They have definitely been over emphasized in this console generation, but some games have done it quite well. In this case, Deep Silver - a relatively unknown developer - has done a fantastic job of creating something unique and intensely fun. It combines a few different winning formulas to create something that hasn't been done before. It combines the core rpg elements of Fallout with the weapons style and combinations of Dead Rising 2 and the 4-player co-op of Left 4 Dead. These combinations create something that even those who don't care for scary games can enjoy, and proves that the zombie genre isn't completely run into the ground yet.

The story of Dead Island follows one of four characters, each with their own background that attributes to their skill-set. Each one has a different set of skills, and a different overall style of play. These four characters, for whatever reason, cannot be infected with the zombie virus, so among the frightened survivors, they are revered. The prologue of the game follows the outbreak of the virus, of which the origins are unknown. Right away, the game has a very creepy feel, but during the prologue there isn't too much to be worried about. Eventually, you make your way to the lifeguard tower, which becomes your home base. From here, you help out other people which act as side quests, giving you experience and unique items. These quests do tend to get a bit to be like chores, but in reality, in this situation you'd probably be doing most of these things. Bringing supplies for fortification or survival.

Along the way, certain characters become the established leaders at each safe house. You'll get familiar with them as they're the ones that start the main quests. There are four main parts of the map, and each one seems to be rather large, giving a wide variety of area to explore. The main goal of the story is to find a way to get off the resort island on which the characters find themselves. In order to do this, the characters must help others along the way. The story itself is a pretty straightforward zombie story, with nothing original aside from the location. Instead of it being a creepy house, or graveyard, its on a resort island. The first map is the resort, the second a city, the third a jungle, and the fourth a prison. Each map has multiple safe houses, and tons of side quests to complete.

The gameplay of this game is what sets it apart though. Each player has a level, and gains experience by completing quests and killing zombies. The zombies increase in difficulty alongside your level, so the game never seems too easy or too hard. As you gain levels, there is a deep skill tree in which you gain different abilities and other things you can choose to your play style. There are numerous quests in which to gain experience, and most involve going to a location, killing zombies, and recovering something to bring it back to a defenseless person. As stated previously, the quests get a bit repetitive at times, but they seem to be realistic problems.

The most important part of this game though, are the weapons. In general, it takes about one third of the game to even get a gun worth having. Guns are going to be least important, at least in the early parts of the game. Its much more fun and satisfying to beat them down, or use a blade to cut the limbs off or even decapitate the zombie. Weapons can be upgraded 3 times, increasing the durability or damage the weapon can dish out. Weapons can also be combined with certain objects that you'll pick up from looting and searching around during the zombie massacre. These can range from shock weapons which electrify weapons and zombies, to making baseball bats more deadly with nails or more weight. These weapons do have a durability, so they will break and can't be used endlessly. Fortunately, they can be repaired at workbenches usually found at your safe houses for a cost.

The multiplayer aspect of the game adds something unbeatable. At first, playing alone is great, but there's something insanely satisfying about destroying zombies with a friend, especially standing around one zombie and kicking it while its down. The story isn't ruined for those that join games that people are farther in, so drop in/drop out co-op really works. Sometimes it can be a bit hard to join matches, and on ps3 there are some save issues, as well as dropped connections. Once in a game, it usually runs pretty smooth, though, with only minor bits of lag here and there.

Overall, Dead Island is quite a surprise hit. It combines aspects of multiple games to create something new and interesting, and keeps players wanting more. Although its a bit buggy, the core gameplay isn't ruined by the bugs, making it a worthy zombie game.

Story – 8.5
Typical zombie tale, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but gets repetitive.
Gameplay – 8.5
Many bugs, but they're not horrible. So satisfying killing numerous zombies.
Graphics – 8
Textures seem to take forever to load sometimes. Environments are beautiful, but character animations are lacking at times.
Sound – 9
A great soundtrack accompanies decent voice acting and great zombie noises.
Replayability - 10
The game can be restarted as a new game plus, and co-op is amazing fun.

Overall Rating – 9

1 comment:

  1. It's been impossible for us to keep on the shelves at our location...looks like a fantastic title, though!


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