Sep 152011

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Zombie games… In a genre mostly kicked off by the success of Resident Evil, we have seen many changes to the actual genre itself. Resident Evil was great but incredibly restrictive, Dead Rising was a huge sandbox to explore with a very limited time to do it in, Left 4 Dead was full of multiplayer goodness but lacked any real concrete story. Now Dead Island has come along and Techland has thrown their hat into the ring, is the game able to surpass it’s predecessors or is it just another face in the crowd?

Dead Island is in no way AT ALL a “clean” game. As an open world game, I expect errors to be present but the ones we encountered initially were downright crazy! We encountered some serious bugs very early in the game. FP lost hours of progress and gear, Pants lost an entire character and most of the progress of another, I lost 4 levels but oddly kept the weapons that I had on me at the time and Frank and Heather couldn’t even play due to the Steam issues. On top of this, it took Pants and I over 90 minutes to actually get a multiplayer match together. He froze while connecting, then I froze while fighting, we both lost networking capabilities a few times and then finally we were allowed to join forces to slay zombies. Plus, when the new patch (1.10) came out, we lost our trophy progress as well. I hate to start out on a bad foot but I want to discuss the negative issues before getting into how awesome of a game it is.

Dead Island can easily be considered the “Fallout of Zombie Games” for many reasons, it has a wide open area to explore, enemies that scale to your level, weapons that require upkeep and bugs that can get in the way of everything. With the bad though, there are plenty of things that Dead Island does far better than any other zombie game I have ever played. Character leveling with skill trees is intuitive while weapon customization and mods keep me entertained sine I am a loot whore. Needless to say, the game introduces many successful elements into a stale genre. The biggest and most important feature that Dead Island uses though, I can play the game the way I want to.

The overall plot of the game consists of you waking up and a hotel room, walking around a bit, getting chased and then getting your ass kicked by the undead and then running around on the island, helping the survivors while you help a mysterious man who has access to quite a bit of security and try to get the hell off the island. This is another pro and con of the game, the story more or less is what you make of it. A great example of this was during a routine quest, I heard a guy on a CB radio trying to contact his brother about needing his insulin before he died. As a chaotic good player, I decided that this poor guy needed my help and rushed off to the bungalow he mentioned to see if I could help. Sure enough, I ran into the poor guy’s brother and after a quick conversation, got the insulin and returned it in the nick of time. Of course, I could have continued to run around smashing the brains out of zombie heads as I am often known to do so but the game gave me a choice to do something different.

The map is large and expansive and not too much is actually blocked off from access. Now you may encounter a few things put into place to keep you out of a few areas but we found our way around a couple of these. One of the first things I did in the game was go the opposite way that I was told to go, find a truck and then run over a ton of zombies. I also encountered a few special zombie types prior to their in game introductions. I was worried that doing this could cause later issues in the game when I got to these points but fortunately everything was business as usual by the time I got there. There was much to be explored, mountains to be climbed, houses to be looted… I mean investigated, and locales can change quickly and naturally. I can be running around resort style bungalows one minute, tearing through a rocky hillside another and them off to a dock-village in another. Each area created a new strategy to survive, as I often discovered that what worked a few minutes ago wasn’t going to work all that great in a different environment.

Dead Island’s graphics are truly a double edged sword. The resort is beautiful, the city is chaotic and distressed and the jungle maintains a constant level of uncertainty. However, characters themselves appear to respond oddly to the way shading works. That or people on the island of Banoi are just butt ugly. It’s just unfortunate that the level of detail shown with the maps doesn’t translate directly onto the character design as well.

With all of this being said, Dead Island is an enjoyably game for those of us that like to partake in zombie slaughter. There are certainly some technical issues that are common in games of this size but patches have already been released and Deep Silver and Techland have shown that they do plan on providing a remedy for the issues.

XBox 360















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  • Large map
  • Open gameplay
  • Creative skill trees
  • Many challenges to go along with achievements


  • Autosave quits working on occasion
  • Multiplayer games can become a technical hell
  • NPC ‘s look worse than zombies sometimes


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