Dead Island Review | May 1, 2013 Xbox, Windows, PlayStation
Dead Island is a first person melee zombie survival horror game with RPG elements. It is rated M for Mature and plays a little like BioShook. You can play in single player of with other people. You get to play as one of four survivors that are immune to the virus for some reason. Dead Island does do many unique things that keep you playing mission after mission but the actual melee combat needs work. The aiming is difficult and the always crazy camera moving all over the place makes game play harder than it need to be but it does good things too.
Having a tropical island as the back drop for a zombie game is a great idea. Dead Island looks great and the detail catches your attention between fighting for your life. This open world game gets better the more you play. You start off in a resort filled with sun and sand and flesh eating zombies of course, but the game does not revolve around people on vacation. You get to go to a slum town just a few miles away from the resort and at times travel through the sewers. You spent time running through the jungle finding your way to a small village away from civilization and abandoned building after building.
Between the main storyline and the side missions there is 50 plus hours of game play with 35 hours in the main storyline. Most of the side quests are fun but there are some that are really stupid like having to get a grown woman her teddy bear. The conflict and the moral choices of the main characters is believable and the voice acting is over the top when needed and right to the point when arguments break out. It was refreshing to hear that the dialog was not overly aggressive all the time and their tone of voice matches what is going on in the moment. The story is really good and some of the plot points we did not see coming. RPG elements like xp and being able to upgrade, maintain and modify your weapons works well and is one of the best parts of the game.
Unfortunately the parts of Dead Island that don’t work really hurt the experience. First of all YOU DIE A LOT and each time you die you lose 10% of your money as a penalty to continue. So, upgrade, maintain and modify your weapons often because you will never be able to save enough to buy the good stuff because you keep dying. You keep dying because you are constantly taking damage almost every time there is more than one zombie attacking you. Plus there are big muscle zombies called Thugs that are hard to kill and seem to hit you even when you are outside of their range. Weapons break to easily early on in the game and your stamina fades to quickly leaving you helpless to defend yourself and unable to attack or run. The combat is so frantic and the camera freaks out every time you get hit, it is difficult to aim and attack anything. So you just start swing randomly and drain down your stamina or your weapon breaks and then you die again. You do get some guns sometimes but about 90% of the game is melee.
The melee combat did not stop us from playing it just frustrated us and made us want to avoid the zombies and not attack them until we got stronger. The game is more good than bad, the story is better than expected but the game is rated M for mature and the plot points, story and game play reflect that. Dead Island is one of those games that you will like it or not, there is no in-between, so try the demo first. The game is worth a buy under the $35 price range because of the horrible aiming, camera, frequent dying and the inconsistent melee. But the RPG elements, story and variety in the missions are good.