Games Vintage and New - Dead Island, PS3
Dead Island Launch Trailer - TheSteelStallion
Pros and Cons
- Strong Combat Mechanics
- Gory Like a Zombie Game Should Be
- Ragdoll Physics
- Buggy, Not Game-Endingly So But Still
- So-so Plot/Voice-Acting, Weak Characterization for Protagonists
- Slow Pacing
Dead Island is a zombie beat-em up game at its core, and it does this well. Zombies react realistically as you deliver well-deserved melee punishment via a multitude of salvaged and subsequently modified weapons. While it does deserve some criticisms for some bugginess, weapon balance and distribution, a clearly co-op title that doesn't feature split screen support, and a lackluster plot, I've found it to be a fun and entertaining title that will provide you with a fair bit of entertainment for your dollar if you can overlook some flaws.
Plot In A Nutshell - SPOILERS AHEAD
You are one of four survivors who happens to be immune on a vacation resort gone to hell. A mysterious figure with access to a radio and tons of cameras all over the island helps save you early on - you quickly get pooled in with a group of other, non-immune survivors. You get the opportunity to play gopher and bodyguard for the next couple hours.
Most of the time the missions make sense - turn on the water so people trapped can drink, go find some canned food, get me my desperately needed medication - whatever. You get sparse advice from Ryder White, some dude in a maximum security prison on this island resort gone to hell (trustworthy).
You'll change settings a few times, eventually ending up in said prison after running enough gopher quests. The second half Ryder gives you a fair bit of guidance via radio, but this is only the effect that you go to the research laboratory on the island, get a cure for his wife, and bring it to him so he'll secure your passage off.
Once you get into the prison, Ryder White betrays you in admittedly cliched manner (Bioshock, anyone?) by stealing . You chase him through the thickest patch of super zombies the game has thrown at you yet, then you get to shoot it out on a rooftop while his minions and zombies come at you. Somehow he is now a Colonel and calling in a tactical strike while trying to board his helicopter with his zombie wife. Your NPC buddy whose been holding all your excess inventory for you releases his wife, his wife bites him, he kills your NPC buddy in retaliation, he is forced to use said cure on himself, which somewhat predictably turns him into the most badass zombie in the game.
You kill him and get on the helicopter and fly off to an unknown fate.
There's a guy whose good at throwing things (lame), a woman who can shoot really well (pointless since guns and ammo are pretty infrequent until very late game), a woman whose good with bladed weapons but otherwise pretty bland compared to the admittedly weak characterization the other guys get, or the rap star who is basically a walking tank that specializes in the blunt weapons found around every stinking corner of the game.
Dead Island Early Gameplay by IJustineGaming
Zombies collapse and fly away from you as you storm through their numbers. You progress and get new moves as the game continues, but the pacing for the new moves is slow. You'll grow tired of your kick and slash combo long before curb stomping or shoving your opposition out of the way becomes available. Your class power spices things up occasionally by offering you rage allowing you to stomp through tough baddies or encounters with a bit more ease.
You can build your character a number of different ways. My biggest issue is that some of the abilities are relatively useless if you are only playing single player game. There is no point in attracting zombie attention if you are alone. You will encounter locked boxes which will be the only reliable source for good weapons in the game save purchasing for prohibitively expensive merchants (drop rates on even green weapons from zombies are abysmal). The only reason I wouldn't take the lock picking skill would be if you were co-oping with a friend who had it maxed. As a single player game, I feel that lockpicking would have been better overall as a mini game instead of a flat do you have this skill check.
Co-op is available but console players will need a second console and game for their buddies to join. A good way to double your sales on a title without having to waste time on split screen support, though I imagine spending more time developing split screen would have made a warmer reception for the eventual sequel.
Your melee gets stale quick due to slow progression. I'd prefer to have a different weapon type or combat move a bit faster. You are pretty much pidgeon-holed into using a certain type of weapon (blade or blunt) to cash in on your class bonuses.
Guns come fairly late. Although you get a revolver in the first act, there isn't any ammo available to actually use it. When you do use it, the bullet damage and knock back leaves a great deal to be desired on zombies, even for headshots. Human opponents that will appear in the second act drop guaranteed pistol rounds and their low HP makes them susceptible to guns (this is the best way to engage them since your own low HP prohibits taking a full clip in the chest when you close for melee). Your guns are now regulated for fighting the human encounters or the occasional suicider zombie that detonates if you get too close, killing you instantly.
The weapon mods are fun to look at and play with, though some are clearly better than others (not necessarily a bad thing since you will be switching your weapons out as you level anyhow). I got sick of gophering so I didn't go for all of them.
General Notes on Characterization
Voices are pretty weak in the game, in general. Each NPC gets a voice that sounds fairly unique, which is nice, but a lot of the performances are definately phoned in. One NPC delivers a quest line like, "Alcohol for the cuts of the wounded." That's it. There's no, "Hey, listen to what I need," or, "I know you can do it! Good luck!" Halfway through the game you are so used to gophering that they waste no time just telling you what they need from you, and you will waste no time getting it cause you're invested, I guess.
Your character really doesn't say much besides a few scripted lines like a couple general "Yeah, I'll do that" phrases, a pleasant exclamation when viewing the coastline from one vista, and a couple of exclamations for explosions, killing zombies, or when he's being curb-stomped. There are a total of like, 3 cut scenes where the immune survivors come together and make brief comments on their situation. By the time I got any sense of how my character was reacting to the situation he found himself in, it was well into the second act.
Still, its a zombie beat down game, not my girlfriends latest rom-com. What was I really hoping for?
The game does one thing well; beating up zombies in horrific and fantastic ways. If you can live with that and find just that aspect entertaining, then its for you. Otherwise, skip this one.