Published on September 10th, 2012 | by Dembonez191
Review: Dead Island
Publisher: Deep Silver
System(s): PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Release Date: September 6, 2011
After a very rough start involving release delays and bugs that could completely ruin the gaming experience for many of its first players, Dead Island fought to stay above water itself in the weeks following its launch. While an emotionally powerful trailer drew people in, it was tough to tell where exactly Dead Island would go from the beginning that it had.
Luckily, after releasing a number, Dead Island became an exciting and enjoyable game. Not all of the bugs have been completely wiped from the game. Some of these bugs include: frozen zombies, weapons falling through the floor, missing side quest rewards, online game freezes, disappearing particle textures, and some bugs that couldn’t even be described that were found during a playthrough.
Overall, the only bug that messed with the game was the one that caused it to freeze. Two players could have a perfectly fine connection, but if too much is going on the screen at once, it is more likely that the game would freeze. It would also freeze if players traveled too quickly throughout a world since it took awhile to load textures and objects onto the screen. Other than that, the bugs and glitches in the game provided some added unintentional humor. Some even allowed for players to get a close-up of zombies and their details that they’d otherwise want to avoid getting near.
While it isn’t as powerful as the trailer made it out to be, the plot is still fairly immersive as players discover how the outbreak in Banoi actually happened. That said, it isn’t very emotional. In terms of the voice acting of a majority of the side characters, it is tough to believe them if they are upset about losing someone they loved. Some of the voice acting is passable, but the rest of it leaves a lot to be desired.
The main characters are all interesting. They each have their own backstories as to why they are on the island of Banoi, and each of them have skeletons in their closets. It is cool to see such a group come together and fight for a similar cause. While they have questionable pasts, they are still very rootable in their fight against the undead. That said, the main characters are not spectacular when it comes to their voice acting, but the story really has less to do about them than it does about the characters they meet along the way. The heroes’ stories are mentioned on the character select screen. The rest of the game is about discovery and finding other important people that really guide the story along.
The four characters are not equal when it comes to their skill sets: thrown weapons, bladed weapons, blunt weapons, and guns. All of the weapon types are fairly common at the beginning of the game except for guns which leaves the character Purna in the dust somewhat. Fortunately, all of the characters are very much capable of using any sort of weapon. Their skill trees improve their use of their expert weapons, and by the time it takes a player to get to the powerful upgrades, they would have already collected the appropriate weapons. It is just the early game where some of the characters could miss out, especially after restarting the game with a high level character.
The game gives easy access to the weapons you collect throughout the game, and there are skill upgrades that can be filled to increase the amount of weapons you can carry at one time and cycle through. Maxing it out is especially helpful since most of the zombies in the game are easier to deal with by using specific types of weapons. Really, once a weapon is added to a character’s direct inventory, it is just a matter of pressing a button and cycling through them. The game goes on during this, so having such a quick and easy way to switch weapons in the heat of battle is very convenient.
The same is said about healing. Med kits can be used simply by tapping the “fury” button on the controller or keyboard to heal during a fight. Med kits do not even have to be in a character’s direct inventory, and it is great not to have to pause the game and search for med kits just to use them. Techland did a fantastic job of keeping the inventory system simple and quick because in the heat of the moment, the last thing a player wants to do is to have to stop and search for something they desperately need.
Speaking of searching, the map is very iffy. There are dots that guide you around whenever a quest or side quest in the game is highlighted. However, players may have difficulty navigating buildings, especially those with stairs since the map does not exist when it is blown up. Furthermore, there seems to be an issue with creating your own waypoint sometimes. After a custom waypoint is removed, the dots tend to disappear on the map during main and side quests every once in awhile. This bug could be difficult to deal with if you are unfamiliar with the territory.
Many quests and side quests send the heroes down well-worn paths, so it is possible to remember exactly where certain things are in Dead Island. It is also a good idea to make a note of landmarks and follow those since some landmarks (like the safe zones) are easy to spot whenever you are lost. Some places are easier to navigate than others, and even though there are lots of staircases inside buildings, it would have been nice to have an actual map that could be opened instead of just the small compass map in the bottom-right.
The map, as mentioned before, is used to complete side quests and main quests since the worlds are so large that it would take forever to find your way without it. Side quest and main quest completion earns players rewards ranging money, weapons, or mods. They also further the storyline. Weapons, money, and other important items used for making mods can be looted off of lifeless zombie bodies, so players should never be too short on loot as long as they know where to look. Zombies respawn everywhere. Furthermore, other special collectibles are located in certain areas including recordings, facts about the island, and personal ids.
Last but not least, not all zombies are created equal. Each zombie comes with its own unique strategy to take it out. Walkers are the most common zombie type throughout the game, and naturally they are the first you are introduced to that you MUST fight in the game. The game does an excellent job of making it so that Walkers are not so easy to take down later on, especially when they swarm, but some of the special infected (Rams) could be tweaked a little to make them less irritating.
The special infected in the game are treated as though they are equal. They are definitely tougher to take down than regular-sized undead, but they are certainly not equal. Some of the most difficult special infected are more difficult to take down than the ones met much later on in the game. Naturally when a special infected is introduced, it probably means they are most common in the area you find them. That is pretty much the case here. This means that Rams, which are found early on, have the potential to make an early act much more difficult than some of the later ones.
The combat is not difficult to master, so taking zombies out should grow on players the more they get used to the controls and strategies. Analog fighting takes some getting used to as moving the control stick to move the weapon can get a little crazy during some of the more frantic/crowded areas. Digital is likely the preferred method for most since it is easier to control.
Stamina is something to look out for, and this goes back to the heroes’ stats. Some characters have better stamina than others, and those are typically the characters that swing weapons rather than throw or shoot them. Players need to keep that in mind when thinking up strategies, and if there are more players to play with online, that makes the game that much more enjoyable since working together to take out a series of zombies makes forming strategies a bit easier.
This is an incredible co-op game that allows players to work together to take out zombie hoards. Players have the abliity in options to scale the zombies’ levels to their own or leave them alone depending on who they join, and while zombies are tougher to take down during co-op, it isn’t difficult as long as everyone works together.
+ Immersive storyline
+ Beautiful scenery
+ Fun co-op experience
– Online freezes
– Iffy map
– Inconsistent difficulty
Final score: 3.75 out of 5