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Dead Island Review

Dead Island

A new take on the zombie apocalypse.

After some 5 years in development, Polish developer Techland's ambitious Dead Island is now available in stores. It's a familiar tale at first; four strangers are thrust smack dab in the middle of an area being overrun by zombies, tasked with somehow finding a way to escape. This time around, the action all goes down on the fictitious tropical paradise of Banoi, an island off the coast of Papua New Guinea. Following a brief introductory cutscene, players are given the choice between four characters: Xian, a blades expert, Sam B, a blunt objects specialist, Logan, who specializes in throwing weapons, and Purna, a firearms expert.

Dead Island

Dead Island's core gameplay mechanic, unlike most other zombie themed titles, is stylistically closer to the Fallout series, than, say, Left 4 Dead. As such, while there certainly are plenty of undead minions to dispatch, there are also a number of RPG elements here. Not only do characters accumulate experience points (and thus level up), but gameplay itself is broken up into quests. Ranging from something as simple as item retrieval, to something as complex as retrofitting an armored car into a tank, quests are varied, and often lengthy to complete. Especially in later chapters, many of them will seem a little too difficult for a single player to complete - and while this may come off to some as a possible design flaw, this difficulty level is intentional; certain quests are clearly designed with co-op in mind.

Dead Island

Co-op play, as it turns out, winds up being one of the game's strongest features. Not only is facing the zombie apocalypse always more fun with a few friends, but the innovative new trading system is a welcome addition. In a move rarely seen in console games, players may now freely trade any non-collectible item amongst themselves; including items that the other player(s) may not have access to. Note that this doesn't apply simply to consumables, almost any item is fair game, including weapons originally created with a DLC mod. For instance, let's assume one player out of four bought the game early enough to have access to the ripper mod. In any other game, all four players would need to have the DLC pack in order to have access to the weapon in question. In Dead Island, however, this is not the case. As long as the other players have the necessary materials, he or she can give them to the player with the DLC blueprint, and that same weapon can be constructed for, and given to, anyone.

Dead Island

This brings up another unique differentiation to the game. Unlike the oft-high powered weaponry of its competition, the majority of weapons here start off as rudimentary things strewn about the island. Only after blueprints, and the subsequent components necessary, are found, do weapons go beyond a basic assortment of knives, paddles, and brass knuckles. For a good portion of the game, melee weapons are the only things at the players' disposal. Luckily, every weapon, shovels and paddles notwithstanding, is both upgradable and moddable. Find blueprints throughout the game - either hidden in key locations, or by completing certain quests, and a near limitless number of options become available. Whether electricity, fire, poison, or barbed wire is your preferred augment of death, there are enough choices to satisfy any playing style. That said, pay close attention to your weapons' condition - all of them are subject to breakage, and will need to be repaired frequently. Repair costs vary based on the condition and rarity of each particular weapon - the harder it is to come by, the more it will cost to be repaired.

Dead Island

As fun as it is to kill swarms of the undead with homemade weaponry, this game is not without its faults. Technical glitches abound, ranging from occasional draw in, to jerky character animations, to generously inaccurate damage modeling. Case in point - why are vehicles almost indestructible? Forgiving vehicular damage is one thing, but we're positive that a truck probably shouldn't be able to barrel down a cliff without even so much as a scratch. This fact could easily be exploited, as the only way to permanently disable a drivable object is to catch it on fire. For whatever reason, be it technical difficulty or by design, this is a rare occurrence - even when attacked by a barrage of zombies, or plummeted off an incline, an engine fire is not certain. Thankfully, the overall aesthetics and gameplay itself are not hurt by these issues. Banoi is a lavish tropical paradise, and as such, visuals are fittingly bright and colorful. In terms of audio, the incessant moaning of the zombie horde is well done, as is the understated soundtrack at key locations, such as the church, lighthouse, and lifeguard tower. Voice acting, however, is hit or miss, as certain characters seem to have a habit of turning their Aussie accents on and off.

Dead Island

As with any open world style game, a large play area comes to be expected. In this area, Dead Island does not disappoint. The island of Banoi is absolutely massive. Consisting of no less than 4 areas, each with their own separate layout, buildings, and quests, it's amazing to think Techland somehow managed to fit all of this on a single disc. All but one of the locations are fast-travel enabled, meaning once a certain location is visited, the player can go back and forth between areas at will. There is one locale that may not be visited and re-visted at the player's leisure, but ample warning is given before that point is reached. All told, save for a handful of forgivable flaws, Dead Island is a lot of fun to play. Chock full of customizable weapons, an innovative new trading system in co-op, and a tropical island worth of the undead, it's a refreshing new spin on the zombie apocalypse. Grab a few friends, set aside at least 25 hours, and enjoy the ride.

Dead Island
Gameplaywww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
A refreshing new spin on the classic zombie apocalypse game. Although the story is familiar territory, the execution still feels fresh. For best results, bring a few friends, and keep your character stocked up on duct tape and wire.
Soundwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The zombie horde's consistent moaning is utilized to great effect, as is the soundtrack, but the voice acting is hit or miss.
Graphicswww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Gorgeous tropical vistas, marred by occasional draw in, jerky character animations, and overly forgiving damage modeling.
Controlswww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
An easy to use radial for weaponry, along with overall responsive movement keeps things going smoothly at all times. Digital and analog configurations assure gamers of all skill types will have a control scheme they're comfortable with.
Overallwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Dead Island is a game that goes where few other zombie games have gone before. A lengthy campaign, dozens of side quests, and a vast open world more than make up for the minor technical flaws present.
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