– Dead Island Resort, Now Welcoming Visitors. –

You’ve seen the trailers, and you’ve heard the buzz.  The wait has finally ended and Dead Island is now on the shelves.

I was pretty excited for this release.  The thought of having a free roaming zombie apocalypse game was intoxicating.  The question is though, does the game really measure up to the hype.  Well if you’re looking for an easy answer then I’m happy to report the answer is Yes.  Of course it does.

Far from flawless, Dead Island is everything I was wanting it to be.  So I give kudos to Techland for a job well done for the first game to which I hope will be a long running series.  For a complete review please continue to read.

DEAD ISLAND

Developer: Techland
Publisher: Deep Silver

You are on a remote island tropic having the time of your life. Everyone is getting hammered, Sam B the one-hit wonder rap star is giving his all performing his hit, “Who do you voodoo?”  and life is good.   Until you wake up the next morning with a hangover and notice that there are dead people walking around everywhere.  There doesn’t appear to be any survivors.  Welcome To Dead Island.

The concept is great and it feels fresh.  The visuals are stunning for the most part and the game play is solid.

Presentation

Don’t you just hate it when developers spend too much time on gameplay that the game plays really well but looks outdated?  Or how about games that have a nice pristine horizon and insane character details but handles like absolute crap?  Well fortunately for all of us Techland managed to provide us with absolutely serene and breathtaking views of the island, and did not have to compromise their game play.  The details they go to providing an opened up tropical resort are unbelievable.

Is it perfect?  No, not by any means.  Does it have to be?  No sir.  I am not completely overwhelmed by the character design for the survivors.  They are good, and without question up to par with today’s standards, but compared to the absolutely mind blowing scenery of the area the characters seem to stand as generic.

Presentation:  8.5/10 –

Plot

There’s been a number of people who have already reviewed this game professionally and there’s been a number of people pointing out this flaw, and I tend to agree with them.  For all the effort Dead Island put into giving each of the four selectable characters an in depth back story, they never really get developed.  The cut scenes don’t really give us anything new to consider about the characters and they seem to be the same people at the beginning of the game as they are at the end.  This doesn’t seem to be all that true to life considering in the interim, they fought their way through a Zombie Apocalypse and saw the worst humanity has to offer.  That should have at least some lasting impact on them.

That being said, the main story is not really anything all that captivating, until you get near the end.  It’s pretty good but nothing overly stands out at the moment.  It was pretty solid though.  The plot twists and a few of the character developing moments for the NPC’s was well done.

All in all the story is pretty decent, but years from now it isn’t the story that’s going to get us remembering Dead Island.

Story: 8.5

Gameplay 

This is where the game shines.  The freedom you have to wander this tropical paradise full of undead makes the game something special.  It plays a lot like a first person melee-focused Borderlands, where you level through killing, but you can also pick up so many different variations of the weapons of the island.  The skill tree is pretty similar to Borderlands as well, there are three main skill trees, one for combat, one for survival, and the other for your own special skill.

Breaking bones using blunt weapons, slicing limbs with sharp weapons, and basically one-shot killing humans with head shots all contribute to make the game play of Dead Island an amazing gaming experience.

The game runs through Four Acts, each bringing you to a brand new location to explore and a ton of new characters to meet and interact with while you try to navigate your way through the zombie hordes.  The part that I especially enjoyed about this is that each of the individual acts provided the gamer with a unique gaming experience.  Each act basically had a different selection of common weapons lying around, the terrain and the encounters were all different enough that each new area legitimately felt like me and the guys advanced to something new.  Techland could have taken the easy way out and just made a new setting for the same exact thing, but no they perfectly utilize each new area with specific quests that are applicable to it.

As you all know though, I stay objective with these things and I would not respect myself if I didn’t point out some flaws with the gameplay that I didn’t really enjoy or felt like it fit in such a well made product.

#1:Repairing items involve going to a work bench and spending money.  That mechanic does not make sense to me because you can’t actually use money to repair tools, and if you do it yourself it wouldn’t cost anything.  I understand the NPC’s buying and selling tools, and I would even forgive if there was a guy always by the workbench and you paid him to fix your gear but the way it is now just partially takes me out of the experience a little.

#2:  The scenery is absolutely unforgettable, but I think the game would have been better suited if they were able to make the environment a little more destructive… even if the overall visuals were affected.  The fact that I’m driving on the beach in my pick up truck going top speed, only to crash into …. a sand castle.  The truck slams to a hault as if it hit a brick wall.  Also, I was successfully able to avoid a Ram (A huge zombie in a straight-jacket who charges at you).. by keeping a street sign in between us.. he couldn’t get past it.  I can kick the beach ball around with my kick, but if I swing at it with my nail’d baseball bat, it just stays put.

#3: If the other two are not nit-picky enough then I know for a fact this one is.  The fact that our characters are “immune” to the zombie disease is a bit of a cop-out for me. I mean I understand it would be difficult to have this style of game without that plot point, and in the third act they use it pretty well in the story… but I think for me the true feel of a zombie apocalypse is not the fear that I’m going to be killed by zombies.  It’s the fact that although they are mostly slow and stupid all I need to do is slip up once to be bitten and become one.

#4:  This may be the only legitimate complaint I would make about the game, but it is only a temporary one.  The game is pretty buggy at the moment.  It’s only been out for less than a week thus far, but that still doesn’t mean that I should overlook the issues.

There was a time in the third act that we couldn’t turn in two quests because the two quest givers were no longer in the room, they had been glitched out.  There was one mission where I had to get gasoline from a station and bring it to a guy.  I got the gas and loaded it in the truck, but instead of going to the guy I went to another location and turned in a quest then I fast-travelled down to the guy who wanted the gas.  Unfortunately I forgot the truck had the gas he needed, so I travelled back but the truck was gone…  I went back to the gas stations and the fuel canisters were no longer highlighted because I had already completed that part of the quest.  So my quest tracker said to bring the gas to Mike, but I had no gas to give him.  Bugs like this will be patched as they are reported I’m sure.

These points are pretty tame as you can tell.  This game is absolutely incredible.  Definitely my favorite Xbox title to date

Gameplay:  9.5/10

The jist of it all is simply, you MUST play Dead Island.  There’s no reason you can’t if you’re a gamer it is out for Xbox, PS3, and PC.

Overall – 9/10