The first thing I have to say about this game is that it deserves the Mature rating it received. If you don’t care for cursing, blood, dismembering, gruesome scenes, zombies, guns or other such things, then this is definitely not the game for you.
Now, for everyone that has no problem with these, I give you a game that is a lot of fun. Dead Island is basically a zombie game with RPG elements to it. If I were to compare it to another game, I’d have to say that it’s a mix between Left 4 Dead and Borderlands.
The story of this game is that you are immune to being turned into a zombie and you have to go around and help a bunch of people with different tasks trying to get off the island. You start off in a hotel on the beach and continue toward your ultimate goal of rescue. The main quest takes you from the beach, to the city, along to the sewers, and several other places. I enjoyed the change of scenery and it made things feel very different. I hated some areas and enjoyed others more.
The map and environment is basically open to explore. You load in and get to walk around and go anywhere you want with no loading. If you change areas, like from beach to city, then you have to load. But this is because it’s a completely different area and map. I played with the game installed on my Xbox 360, so there may be some loading possibly elsewhere but I haven’t heard anything about it.
There are 4 different characters to chose from and each of them have their specialties: blunt weapons, sharp weapons, throwing weapons and firearms. You are able to use any weapon in the game that you want but the abilities you get pertain to these weapons. Every character has an ability called fury. It’s makes you very strong for a short period of time and gives you a special weapon to use. Each character’s weapon pertains to their specialty. Sharp gets a knife, blunt gets brass-knuckles, throwing gets throwing knives and firearms gets a pistol. You have to build the meter to use it, but it honestly doesn’t take too long to get it up. It’s a free pass to kill everyone in your path until it’s gone.
Each character has 3 skill trees. The first is only for fury. There are upgrades in there that increase damage, health, time and several others. It’s very helpful if you enjoy using fury a lot. The second is the combat tree. These bonuses are most often related to your weapon of choice. Here you can increase damage to your specialty, durability of your weapons and give yourself bonuses and skills to use, such as ramming enemies to the ground. The third and final one, is the survival tree. This one has a large range of abilities. For some, it may give more healing, lowered prices, more xp and the ability to avoid zombies. For others, it could make them attract zombies more or even give you a chance to recover a thrown weapon instantly. The thing that I enjoy is that the creators didn’t just give the same trees to every character. They’re all specific to the character. Some skills may be similar, but others may not show up at all on the other three character’s skill tree. It makes your character feel more unique.
There are a lot of weapons to chose from and you will find them absolutely everywhere. Melee weapons are either sharp or blunt, but there are several different types with different ranges and bonuses. The larger weapons provide more damage, but take much more stamina to use. Weapons also have an attribute called force. The higher the number, the easier it is to just knock a zombie on the ground. The last thing to note about melee weapons is durability. Every weapon takes damage the more you use it. You can find workbenches throughout the game to repair your weapons for a low cost. It’s never too much.
The other weapons include firearms and explosives. Early game you will not be able to find a single firearm. Even if by some chance you do find one, there wont be any ammo to use for it. So that may seem like a lost cause for some, but mid to late game you start to see them everywhere. If you want to use them, you are free to do so. It does make the game a little easier at certain times, but it’s completely up to you whether or not you use them. I used them for specific situations. Explosives are basically molotov cocktails or some kind of grenade made from ingredients. They always have a huge blast radius, so use them with care.
The game allows you to find a lot of different items lying around. They take up no room in your inventory and you can hold as many as you want. These items are either used for quests or, in most cases, to upgrade weapons. At the workbench you can upgrade weapons for a cost. This uses no items at all and increases the base attributes of the weapons. Every weapon can be upgraded 3 times. The other way to upgrade weapons is to use items found or bought to attach onto the item of choice. You find recipes for these mods and there are a lot of them. They range from nails in a bat to a sword hooked up to batteries that you can use to electrocute the undead. You can even upgrade your guns to have poison, fire or electric shots.
There are several types of zombies in the game for your enjoyment. There are the really slow and stupid zombies, but there’s also the Left 4 Dead running zombies that pissed me off the most. As you progress through the story you’ll see the others. One is a zombie on roids that’ll knock you to the floor and kill you far too easily. Another is a charger that runs at you. There’s one that gets close to you and blow up, as well as others that spit some kind of flammable fluid on you. Among the zombies are some humans. Nothing special about them. It was a good cast of enemies that they put in the game in my opinion.
Playing the game is a lot of fun. You can go at it solo or play multiplayer via system link or Live/PSN. People can jump into your game freely if you allow them or you can do it to others. They also allow you to have saved spots if you want to invite your friends but others are in the way. You can join any game that is where you are in the story or earlier. Sorry, but no power leveling off of higher level friends.
All of these sound like a great game, but there are some little things that make the game a little troublesome at times. The game seems to be released as a beta. There are a ton of glitches. Most are minor inconveniences, while others are good. For instance, an NPC wont talk to you or some unknown force wont let you get up the stairs. These can be fixed by just reloading your game. A good one is being able to duplicate weapons. I used this one a lot. Oh, how I loved this glitch! There is one in particular that the company is working to fix ASAP though. A small percent of people have found that while playing online with friends, their entire character data was deleted. Yea, that’s right… Imagine putting in 10+ hours into the game only to find out it’s gone. I’d be pissed off. From gamers reports, the game just stopped autosaving all together. Next time they tried loading the data for that character they realized that the character wasn’t there at all. No record of them ever being there.
Dead Island Rating:
Graphics: 8.5/10 The graphics on the zombies were great. Slicing off limbs and smashing heads in left bloody messes everywhere, but there was nothing that really stood out. Plus, the characters had a weird way of talking by wobbling their head side to side constantly.
Gameplay: 9.5/10 The game was a lot of fun to go through and got you hooked mission after mission. There’s so much to do in the game from grabbing items to killing zombies for experience, that it’s hard to put down the controller. The game does feel like screwing you at times by throwing everything at you and spawning you right there once again. This is what made me feel like stopping. I hate how the computer functions at times…
Audio: 9/10 The sounds really immersed you in the game. Zombie sounds everywhere, but they were still distinct. Every zombie type had their own sound, so you knew when you were going to be ambushed by those runners. Didn’t always mean you lived, but at least you had that second to realize they were coming after you.
Replay Value: 9/10 The game does have a lot to make you keep playing. It truly does. The leveling up and items that you can get do help to add to the enjoyment. Plus, if you’ve got some friends, it’s a lot of fun to join their game and help ’em out a little. I personally beat the game and still play with my brother and friends. Not sure how much more it’ll last if they don’t play, but in my opinion it’s doing the job for me right now.
Overall: 9/10 The game is a lot of fun. Leveling, weapons, upgrades and a ton of missions add to the flavor and playability. I’m still playing it now and enjoy it a lot. The one thing that’s holding this game back is all the glitches it has. I’m not joking when I say that it feels like it was released as a beta. They needed to get more testers for this game.