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Why Dead Island Failed

Updated on September 25, 2011

Dead Island was a game I followed for a long time, even before it went quiet back in the days where it was supposed to be dynamic character interaction, interesting story based off the players decision of who to work with and you could literally kill anyone from any faction (there were originally factions in the game who you could interact with earlier in development) and the game would react to your decisions.

The final product which was received is nowhere close to the dynamic and hyped game that previewers made it out to be. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the commercial doesn’t have the names of those who said the praise since no one will have their rep ruined over one game. Money for opinion is one thing but reputation is everything.

This article though is not a condemnation but a pointful presentation of why Dead Island is not the best zombie game of all time which I personally believe it could have been if not for certain decisions which will be outlined in this article. As for a fair warning there will be spoilers so if you are thinking about getting the game and don’t want to have anything ruined for you don’t read any further. If you want an honest opinion of the games faults so you can decide if you want to put your money down for this game then please, enjoy this article.


I’ve heard that the story was bad and I thought that it was the initial reaction of most people to a plain story, I’ve rarely been disappointed by a story from a video game so I fully expected to be enjoying myself to a soft story about survivals and evil vs humanity. What was there instead was the first game to ever disgust me for its rampant use of politically charged messages with no disclaimer. The very same messages that the movie industry wishes it could use but can’t take it that far but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

In the beginning the Resort area I have to agree with everyone else, this is the best part of the game. It is beautiful, the story is a regular zombie vs human focused one. This part of the game is very pointful and its message that it conveys is a good one. Standing against the tide of a zombie outbreak and working together in these dark times. Cheesy maybe, but enjoyable.

Yet this is only 1/3 of the game and what follows is extremely sickening. At a certain point in the game you get the distinct feeling that this has somehow evolved into an anti male crusade, it will stick in your gut but you just want to ignore it but what you have to understand is everything in a story is there for a reason and Dead Island is no exception. In the 2nd third of the game the anti male rhetoric starts getting lumped on but taken in isolation none of them really makes a mark until you reach the lab area and the story as a whole is sacrificed for this crusade against a gender.

The line that confirmed this for me was “Women here are treated like dirt, they are raped, beaten, and burned as witches.” And the story sticks to a more feminist oriented mindset from two thirds on and it is disgusting. All the typical male bashing is here, men beat women, men rape women, none of these bad characters is well rounded just a stereotypical cut and paste villain both in looks and in design.

When everyone in the lab is finally killed in the most retarded and unbelievable way of the head scientist couldn’t properly use a computer to get someone out of a cage, when he would have logically used this computer over a million times before. Worst yet before you are given the impression that these guys are not bad guys but actually good guys despite the fact that it is obvious from a set up position that this facility produced a mutated strain of the virus that we are seeing the end results.

Now of course story elements aside there is a physical world event that backs this up as fact. The over-reaction to an employee code word which is commonly used in the industry and is an inside joke among developers got fired and a public apology was issued. It was a minor event of a skill being called Feminist Whore in development hardly something to generate such an immediate response that it did, you would think the dev put a hot coffee mod in the game the way they reacted. This only makes sense if certain political groups were invested in the development of the game.

Aside from political messages the story seems gouged out, like most of it is missing so dramatic moments like one of the characters being raped comes across as inappropriate rather than emotional driven content.

Near the end of the game it goes into terrorism. It comes across odd and out of place with one character even telling you not to give guns to those people because they are terrorists. Now if your reaction and common sense is as good as mine then you realize that zombies are more important enemy that terrorists who were mostly in game okay people despite the stigma they tried to attach to them.

The end of the game is just lame.


The game is buggy, so buggy in fact the devs are pushing back the DLC to work on fixing only bugs. It is these bugs that should have been removed long before the game shipped.

A few of the bugs are game ruining bugs that occur when the game is loaded. One of which put me on an opposite side of a wall unable to continue the main quest at the end location. Another bug removed quests when the game loads up until you return to the area then it will auto upload the quests.

Weak Combat

The games combat is enjoyable when you switch to analog combat which the game should have made the main combat system. Many gamers will play through the game not even knowing that there is an alternative combat mode that is more precise and how to activate it from the menus. When activated though analog combat solves many of the frustrations that you will have with the inaccuracy of the regular combat, such as not being terribly effective against Infected type zombies.

One of the most glaring and unforgivable failings of the game is it made chainsawing zombies lame. Yes there is a chainsaw in game but when you get it, it only works straight; you can’t swing it around making what should be one of the best cameos and Easter eggs flat out lame.

Guns Guns everywhere

One of the things promised during development was that guns would be 1) scarce and 2) powerful but then they turned the island into an arms convention. In fact there are so many guns if you memorize where the thugs and military men respawn you can rack up the money and ammo easily.

Worse yet the gun play is not exactly perfect, head shots are largely ineffective even with a shotgun at close range you can pump 5 rounds into the zombies head until it decides you hit the right spot or got a critical and blow the zombies head off. Though it is satisfying when it does not occur with regularity.

Weapon Special Effects Don’t work right

So a key feature is the ability to make these supposedly awesome modded weapons but when you use them their special effects don’t even come into play over 90 percent of the time. Fire won’t hurt zombies accept for a small and I do mean small extra health damage, and electricity doesn’t work most of the time ether. I guess with no penalties for death making the weapons work right would have just made the game too easy.


While fighting and killing the zombies can bring a smile to your face, something glaring came to my attention as I was playing. These zombies don’t act like zombies very much. This became blatantly in your face when you get killed by a zombie who stabs you with a knife. There is a logic to this that the zombies are using the last thing they were handling before turning, a tiny bit of humanity left but there is a problem to this argument. They never act like regular zombies.

They don’t bite, they don’t crawl on the ground after (the none existent option of) their legs are crippled, they grab you this is just passé. The zombies instead act like melee characters with the few exceptions of zombies that had specialties such as puking, ramming (which doesn’t feel insane or berserk like it should) or stabbing with their arms. It is sad that a game about zombies doesn’t have their zombies acting like zombies.

Graphics Not as Described

None of the graphic qualities attributed to the game are present. The bodies don’t decay on the ground, enemies don’t look that varied. Aside from the multiple layered character animations which were sweet and a yes please may I have more response generating the game is pretty lackluster in the aesthetics department with only a few areas outside the Resort being remember able.

DLC Stripped From the Game

That is right the greedy let’s take content from the game and sell it later is a part of this game. One example is the Arena which still has its entrance point in the Resort in one of the tunnels. If that doesn’t scream we took this out to later sell it too you I don’t know what does.

There are three content packages that were taken out by the looks of it. If you go to Extras in the Main menu and go to additional content you can see what I’m referring too. The three content packages are Ripper Mod, Arenas, and Ryder White’s Campaign. Each until unlocked say Not Yet Available but a good question is if these are not developed fully yet then why are they referenced in the games menus and have areas to access them in game.

Left 4 Dead Style

It seems that many games are copying Left4Dead’s style of game play of having for player co-op. The entire game is based up around this very feature and while it doesn’t hurt game play it shows how corporate the games development became. Gimmick aside it is implemented very well though, dropping in and out is easy, stats are saved, and even with my less than stellar internet connection I did not experience any lag with other players.

No penalty for Death

Another sure sign of corporate game development is to make a game ridiculously easy to make it “accessible”. Now we aren’t talking about Bioshock’s resurrection tanks which you could turn off, no this is a whole new level if ease as there is literally no penalty for death. You lose a few hundred dollars and that is it. You respawn often nearby in about 5 to 7 seconds, enemies have the same health but sometimes they will respawn and this will only be in direct relation to the potential for annoyance for you.


The game is not perfect and flat out disgusted me. What started out as a fun filled zombie killing expedition turned into a propaganda piece that I ended up paying for. This level of scam is just unacceptable and generates an irate nature in me. But if you can over look these faults to enjoy yourself then I completely recommend the game to you. The parts besides the lies during development and the obvious male bashing were enjoyable and fun.

Battles with some zombies like my favorite Ram Zombie were some of the highlights of the game and you will walk away with some watercooler moments. It is just sad that such an epic game lowered itself to that of a propaganda and corporate style game. Made to sell and marketed with equal amount of lies to boot. This could have gone down easily as one of the best zombie games of all time, with environmental effects, body decay, exciting zombie melee combat but instead it was a content missing, graphics not there, passé combat, propaganda game.

Reviewers typically put there stats up to show off that they played the game so I will do the same.

Time played: 25h 15m 58s

Quests Completed: 134

Explored Zones: 98 percent (I missed one somewhere)

Distance Traveled: 156.00 (no mile or kilometer specification)


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