• Review: Dead Island

    Dead Island

    Developer: Techland
    Publisher: Deep Silver
    Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
    Rating: Mature
    Release Date: September 6th, 2011[NA]
    For Fans Of: Left 4 Dead, The DeadRising series, Open-world Mulitplayer

    Something disturbing is happening on the rainforest island of Banoi! This beautiful, lush, exotic landscape off the coast of New Guinea is being overrun with something so sinister, so dark, so bloody, Zombies! No one knows how, but zombies have started appearing all over the island of Banoi and with their infectous bite, threaten to genocide the entire island effectively turning this paradise upside down.

    Everyone on the island is there for their own reasons, be it trying to forget their past, working with the government, or even just working with the rich folks as an escort, Banoi is a place to relax, a place to kick back and enjoy the simple things in life. So what happens when that place is turned upside down and infested with zombies? You try to survive, try to get off the island while killing as many of those brain eating bas***ds as you can without getting infected yourself. However all this is easier said then done. The zombie infestation has quite literally spread overnight.

    After waking up to a trashed hotel after a hard night of drugs, alcohol, and music you're wandering around being led by only your wits and curiosity. Soon, a man starts stalking you and using the cameras to lead you to him. Outside the hotel, spread all over the island are pockets of survivors that all have things that need to be done to get their affairs in order, some requiring you only to find them alcohol while others require you to check up on other survivors making for easily the most boring missions I've ever completed.

    What I don't get about the whole helping people thing is why your character is doing any of that. There are four characters to play as and only two of them really have the personality of helping others, especially of some of the more trivial ones like getting a teddy bear for some random chick or more expensive champagne for the foul-mouthed alcoholic chick. I can see doing things that actually help the group but the sheer tediousness of some of these missions makes no sense. What is good though is the amount of side-missions. They did not go overboard on the amount which means your main missions wont be lost in the slew of junk side-quests. You don't really have to do all the sidequests, but it's a good idea to do a bunch of them for leveling purposes.

    The main missions progress in chapters and acts, roughly each new hideout/scenery change is a new chapter and the different parts of the island, because they unlock progressivly, would be the new act.

    Most of what you'll hear on the Dead Island is ambient sound, with a light touch of music. The music does fits the game but makes it seem soo depressing and boring, so I threw my own music on and just rocked out to that regardless of immersion. The ambient sounds are awesome though if you wanna be fully immersed and take the silent road. The best part of the sound is sometimes the zombies will be silent and sneak up on you, well, except the "Infected" who yell and scream as they sprint after you.

    The voice acting though is in another ranking, by itself, and for good reason. Right from the character selection screen you will understand and just want them to stop talking so you can read instead. Through out the rest of the game it only gets worse as you have to try and listen to them when you accept something or loot an item. The NPC's are slightly less annoying as you only have to listen to them for short periods of time.

    I said earlier the the island of Banoi is a lush beautiful landscpe, with the keyword there being beautiful. Right out of the gate you can tell they put a lot of time into the general design of everything. You won't find anything too heavily detailed here though. Dead Island is one of those games where if you take a few steps back in-game and just look, it's fine, but as soon as you go in with the macro vision you start to feel unimpressed. It's also during some of those macro events that you'll notice the graphical bugs in the game, like being able to walk through umbrellas, or see through walls into the water level of the game. Sometimes the texture layer on peoples faces won't load up for a while. One thing I was amazed at however was how the frame-rate held up. Even when throwing multiple bombs at propane tanks, igniting several zombies at once, I never once noticed the frame rate drop.

    In a sense, Dead Island isn't really a unique game, taking our favorite open-world role playing games and just throwing zombies in them. But they didn't just throw the DeadRising zombies in here, they threw a few curve balls and got some special ones too, ones that will actually require some thought in taking down. With a strong RPG aspect in it you can expect to do a lot of leveling and reading the skill tress so you can design your character around your playstyle. The four characters each specialize in their own style and have different talents and abilites with the exception of the survival tree. The skill points for these skills are gained when you level up.

    Along with each of the characters specializations, are the special abilites, called Fury. Much like in "Borderlands" your character's fury is basically a single overpowered attack/mode you can use. Fury unlike Borderlands builds up by hitting or killing zombies in special ways like kicking them rather then being on a cooldown. Unleashing your fury is almost like hitting the win button, every zombie in the area will die or take massive damage from your hard hitting attacks.

    Continuing with the RPG aspect is the ridiculous amount of looting. This is where the game got stupid tedious. Everytime you want to check a bag for something you have to first search it, then wait a second, then loot it, just to pick up one item out of the bag. Sometimes there's not even anything in the bag while other times you'll find nothing but junk. But you'll pick up that junk anyways and carry it with you because you'll never know when you need those forty batteries you found to mod a weapon. There is no system for identifying whether an item is safe to sell and just get the money from it. I found this, and the looting to be stupid frustrating because I'll be walking around with probably three grand worth of junk in my pockets but I'll be flat broke and not able to fix my weapons.

    Probably the best feature in terms of game play is the weapon modification. Now this isn't modification on a level we've seen in many other games but it's cool that it's in the game. Throught out the game you can accquire weapon mods, which are the blueprints for creating your unique weapons. Although, some of the mods will only work for certain weapons (i.e.: torch mod will only work on wooden blunt weapons and shock mod on metal edged weapons). This is kind of a shame because I can't recreate my favorite flaming sword, the "Shishkebob". Each weapon also has durability loss, and while you can talent into reducing the speed at which the durability falls, it's still too fast. No matter what kind of target you're hitting, hitting that target about twenty times with your weapon will damage it almost beyond use so be sure to keep a few back-up weapons if your venturing out into the island.

    None of the above will matter if you can't hit your target and the good people behind Dead Island sure took pleasure in making even just that a challenge. Most of the controls are decent with the exception of the button layout being a bit wonky, but what topples this ricketly jenga tower is the left stick movement; it's Lagged, and bad. It takes almost a full second for your character to start moving after thrusting the stick forward. Now I am playing on a 360 so I'm not sure how it is on other versions but damn, you think they would fix that up. You can get used to it but then when you go to play something else, it takes a few games to get back into those controls again.

    Going off the controls they have included a setting I haven't seen personally in any game: Analog. Turning on analog turns your joystick into your arm, letting you get far more precise control of where you swing, however, there is a catch, and a bad one. To swing your weapon in analog mode, you have to stop, pull the LT and then do your swing. You can't run and swing in analog mode because you can't look around. To make your arm swing you have to use the stick that would be otherwise controlling your X,Y vision, kind of an interesting idea but until I see it excuted in a much better fashion I'll stick to Resident Evil if I want to stop and fight only to be eaten by zombies.

    Lasting Appeal
    This is proabably where the game shines the most for some. Much like its open-world brethren, Dead Island features online and offline co-op meaning you and your friends can now spend endless hours slaying zombies with paddles and machetes! The best part is the game trys to persuade you into the social light by telling you when other random people are close to your area of the game, letting you join their game in a single press if you so choose. I mostly ignored these settings as the game becomes stupid easy when more people join because the enemies dont get any harder to kill to my knowledge, and even if they did, I'd still kick to win.

    Dead Island is a weird oatmeal-peanut-raisin cookie of a game. It has all these aspects that should make it great and at times it honestly is. But the other times I felt like I was trudging along not really having any fun at all. Now this could be because once you do the mission once you don't forget it and it becomes boring to do again but I do have to throw the lagged controls and the tedious looting in that same pot. They take a part of the game experience away and they really didn't need to if they had fixed those problems right from the start. With everything except the mulitplayer-ness sporting apperent problems I can't really recommend this game to anyone, at least not at the current price. However, IF your still thinking about picking up Dead Island, wait until the price drops, maybe then it won't leave marble sized holes in your wallet like it left in my heart.

    Comments 14 Comments
    1. Torquemada's Avatar
      Torquemada -
      Very well written and an interesting read thanks for cementing my decision to pass this one up Manservant Hecqubus
    1. Shawn Barton's Avatar
      Shawn Barton -
      Great review! I have to say I agree on almost everything, just having finished the PC version today. The game itself confused me. Waking up in the hotel room and exploring, running away from the horde on my own... then at some point being referred to as multiple people and suddenly having the entire entourage of selectable characters with me who don't even bother to contribute. The story and cutscenes were pretty bad.
    1. Gusto's Avatar
      Gusto -
      I was shocked that it sold out at just about every store during it's launch, developers know stupid people go ape sh*t for zombie games. The game is super buggy so repetitive and yet I catch myself still playing it. I don't know if I'm just waiting for the game to start lol or get better. The multiplayer is pretty sweet how people on the fly pop into the missions with you. I agree maybe for $29.99, but with all the games coming out this holiday season, pass on it. Great review Hecq, well deserved 5.
    1. Hecqubus's Avatar
      Hecqubus -
      Thanks It really is another one of those "Good Idea, Poor Execution" type games, and as gusto said. there really is a lot more to be excited about coming out this holiday season.
    1. Sol's Avatar
      Sol -
      Finally glad someone broke the truth about this game....when i saw the trailer of the girl dying, i honestly thought it would have been a much long awaited RE clone that had potential...

      then when the gameplay showed up with Elderscroll like gameplay with horrible voice actors....

      kinda reminded me of Corpse Killer...

      Dead Island definetly dropped the ball on this one
    1. Chris "WildCardCorsair" Garcia's Avatar
      great review Hecq! i find it funny that even in a review about a zombie game you have me hungry with your comparison of it to a oatmeal rasin cookie.... yum.

      but seriously thanks for spilling the truth on it. i almost bought it this weekend. now i think ill borrow/rent/wait for a price drop.
    1. Hecqubus's Avatar
      Hecqubus -
      Thanks Guys! haha It's funny, I've been reading the comments on this site as well as the other site this review showed up on and its a 180 degree difference, soo many hating on my score but I find it hilarious cause most of them are not reading anything but the Score.
    1. Cappy's Avatar
      Cappy -
      Hec, I actually do agree with you on this one. I read the other sites comments too and they are all pretty much fanboys of zombie games and have no sense of game design. I've tried to pick up this game and finish it but I just can't do it. I've never been bored playing a game before and wow this one did it for me. Good review Hec.
    1. Gusto's Avatar
      Gusto -
      16 sites on Meta gave it in the 60's while only 2 sites gave it a 90, what does that say? The controls sucks along with graphics, story, and missions. The game is super monotonous, but can be fun with friends. People need to be more honest with themselves rather than hear someone they worship make a positive statement about this game and agree with them. Another reason why gamers are all butt hurt is because they love zombies so anything trashing zombies makes them ape sh*t. Also don't forget now a days 10 year olds are on PC's now, point made.
    1. inkboy200x's Avatar
      inkboy200x -
      Agree with everyone this is a great review. I'm sure a few of you know that i am a fan of zombies and such, but i'm not one to jump on just ANYTHING because it has zombies (i didn't even get into Plants vs Zombies all that much lol). Anyways, i still would like to play this game some time but i'll just wait for some price drops or if anyone wants to give me the game for free. so... does anyone want to give me this game for free????
    1. Hecqubus's Avatar
      Hecqubus -
      I would love to ink haha but i rented it ^>^
    1. MikeJonesJaxson's Avatar
      MikeJonesJaxson -
      The only person I know that said they really enjoyed the game loves zombie games, but other than that, I have heard how incredibly average it was. I see people on my friends list play it, but I don't know how much they like it or whatever.

      Honestly, it does sound like a game that I would only pay roughly 20 or so dollars for. Which sucks because I was really looking forward to this game.
    1. Hecqubus's Avatar
      Hecqubus -
      See I found it hard to look forward to this game because I had no idea what kind of game it was going to be, I mean other then a "zombie game" but that isn't a genre obviously. I went into the game blind and not knowing anything because of the horrible trailers they made. Seriously, there was no footage I saw of the gameplay, or anything to do with the story.

      Not saying this is terrible, and I bet if I researched the game before I played it then I would've found numerous details, but I shouldn't have to go scouring the internet trying to find details that should have been outlined in the commercials/trailers. It didn't effect the score the game got, just something the publisher could've done a better job on.

    1. Judecca's Avatar
      Judecca -
      Articles/Reviews of zombie games=guaranteed replies

      Yeah your review is pretty spot on. I remember one comment I read in a forum about this game was "imagine if you have the perfect son who is charismatic, smart, and destined to have a career as a brilliant doctor but then messes it all up by doing something stupid and going to prison, now he has no chance of a future. Yeah this game is like that."
  • Review Scale

    Score 10- Flawless Victory: A score not handed out to every game. Games earning this rare score sit at the very pinnacle of excellence. These games act as the examples for which all others should be measured with. They are instant classics from the beginning. These games not only deliver what was expected of it, but also exceed the player’s expectations. The game’s features are innovative and original. No game is without its absolute flaws, but the finished product you bring home surpasses the anticipation the game has formed. A day one buy is a must. The game you hold in your hands with this score is a video game jackpot.

    Score 9 - 9.5- Outstanding: Games earning scores such as these absolutely must be played. Games that achieve this high ranking do so because they define the genres that they are in. Flaws are few and barely noticeable. Features seen in the game have been renovated to provide something new and fresh. The story, gameplay, graphics, and lasting appeal are all fantastic and is reason enough to bring the game home and to enjoy with family and friends. Every penny you spend on the game is so worth it.

    Score 8 - 8.5- Great: Any flaw the game may possess is overshadowed by its fun factor. These games would be great for gamers to play. These great games appeal to gamers more and more outside its normal player base because of what it brings to the table.

    Score 7 - 7.5- Good: Flaws do exist in these games, but the positive features of the game can counterbalance the flaws. Additionally, players who are predisposed to liking a game of a particular series or genre with this score should enjoy the game. These are in no way bad games, and much fun can be had with them. An overall good game is worth taking a look at, whether you are willing to buy the game or rent it first. That or you can also wait for the game to reach a good price.

    Score 6 - 6.5- Decent: Games falling into this category may suffer from numerous flaws (for example, graphics or gameplay), but are still worth playing. Granted, the player should be aware that a game with these scores may not guarantee them full satisfaction.

    Score 5 - 5.5- Average: An average game is one in which a game’s features are neither good nor completely terrible. Instead, the finished product is manageable. Little has been done to hold the player’s interest. If anything, rent this game before you consider buying it so that you can at least get a feel for the game’s overall experience.

    Score 4 - 4.5- Poor: Games falling into this category may only keep gamers entertained for a short while. While the game may seem enjoyable for moments at a time, it can quickly grow old and may never be revisited again. The game’s overall function is lacking in quality and may not hold the player’s attention for long. The game leaves little or nothing else to return back to.

    Score 3 - 3.5- Bad: If any positive qualities about a game in this category exist, it is not enough to redeem the game for its shortcomings. Sure you may find yourself playing it, but for how long? You will wind up not giving the game a second glance.

    Score 2 - 2.5- Horrible: Games such as these may not be totally unplayable, they nearly are. Additionally, they may lack, or greatly suffer in, the fundamental functionality of the software as a whole. The game simply does not come close to meeting industry standards at the time of its release.

    Score 1 - 1.5- Appalling: Gamers should avoid this game at all costs. The game was clearly not ready to make its way to store shelves in its status. Save your money and find something else. See it in the bargain bin? No! Stay away! Keep moving and look for something else.