Dead Island. The Zombie Apocalypse Game you have been waiting for ever since you first saw that gut wrenching first teaser trailer. We got our claws on it and are ready to rip it apart for your benefit!
First things first: D.I. is not a “First Person” Shooter. Its not a “Role Playing Game”. Dead Island is a twisted hybrid of several types of games and fits them together extremely well! Before its release, many believed (this reviewer included) that D.I. would be the new standard for Zombie Video Games as it promised to have the best of all the greatest games out there.
Developers promised to borrow the best features from the best games out there like Left4Dead, Dead Rising, and even Fallout 3 and gamers squealed with delight. So did the game live up to its promises? Yes and no.
First off, the game pits players against countless undead on an island with no hope for escape. Gamers are able to use anything from rusty pipes to wooden planks and even divers knives as weapons. Guns (much like a real life apocalypse) are sparse as ammo, forcing players to use whatever they can as a weapon and fight off hordes melee style.
Play style is First Person (For non-gamers, this means all you see are the character’s hands and feet in some cases) with the ability to upgrade and create weapons and skills much like Role Playing Games. It offers a wide open island where players can go almost anywhere on foot or in vehicles.
The premise is simple: do whatever it takes to survive as you explore the island, help other survivors, and kill countless Undead in the process. Much like Fallout 3 and Dead Space, players can target arms legs and even heads to tear Zombies apart by breaking limbs and decapitating the monsters before they can get to you.
About the Zombies: there are several types you will encounter and this makes for quite the adventure…
You find yourself in a dark parking garage of a posh hotel. Standing in the shadows is a groaning Walking Corpse that has not noticed you yet. Without getting closer, you may be able to know what you are dealing with just by paying attention:
*Walkers are the ones that typically look like they just climbed out of the grave as they look more decomposed than most of their counterparts.
*Infected are Zombies that can run at you at super fast speeds much like Left4Dead. For whatever reason, they often wear baseball caps and other hats and look younger.
*Thug Zombies are taller than Frankenstein. They also scream out and thrash their arms about in fits of rage. This can be helpful and terrifying as you will often find yourself wandering around hearing the screams in the distance and not sure which corner the Thug is hiding behind.
*Suiciders are bloated bubbling sick looking bastards that will explode if you get too close dealing massive amounts of damage to you and any other Zombies around him. Steer clear of these guys if you can.
As for graphics, Dead Island is top notch. Beautiful backgrounds and lush environments make you wish that the island was real so you could go check it out, while twisted blood spatter effects lend an eerie and unsettling feel to the game. The Undead in the game look realistic but often have a strange glossy look to them. This doesn’t necessarily take away from the experience, but looks a bit… off.
Here’s a great little tip from ZZN to you: one of the easiest ways to “level up” is to hop in a truck and drive around the island. Several things happen when you do this: First, you find yourself hunting Zombies for that satisfying crunch that only crushing a Zombie under your wheels can provide. Not only is this fun, but every zombie nets you experience points that help you level up your skill tree faster. Also, driving around the island gets you several Achievements such as one for driving a certain distance, one for killing a set number of Undead and even one for exploring the island! There a lot of us that are admitted “Achievement Whores” and will spend hours just driving around for this!
Speaking of Whores, the game does have some controversy. For what you ask? Not for what you would think. Many games like Dead Island are surrounded in controversy for extreme violence, nudity and other adult content. Not Dead Island. When you buy Dead Island you know you will get a certain level of these, so no surprises there. The controversy in Dead Island is found somewhere you may have never known about had you not read this article. Dead Island’s controversy lies in its coding. One of the designers thought it would be a funny idea to call one of it’s main character’s skills “FeministWhorePurna”.
You read that correctly, Purna, character who is a bad ass cop who kicks all forms of Undead ass, is called a Feminist Whore.
Dead Island creator Techland and publisher Deep Silver had this to say:
“It has come to our attention that one of Dead Island’s leftover debug files contains a highly inappropriate internal script name of one of the character skills. This has been inexcusably overlooked and released with the game.
The line in question was something a programmer considered a private joke. The skill naturally has a completely different in-game name and the script reference was also changed. What is left is a part of an obscure debug function. This is merely an explanation but by no means an excuse. In the end that code was made a part of the product and signed with our company name. We deeply regret that fact and we apologize to all our customers or anyone who might have been offended by that inappropriate expression.
The person responsible for this unfortunate situation will face professional consequences for violating the professional standards and beliefs Techland stands for.”
Okay, so it is cool that the company apologized, as it should, but don’t they have some kind of quality control check system to avoid this kind of thing? Your game is bound to catch some shit if you run around an island killing the Undead, but is this really the kind of publicity you want?
This is a review, not an opinion piece on how screwed up this coding issue was, so we’ll stick to the game play and such but if you want more on that we recommend this link from our friend Jess D’Arbonne.
Oh, and we lied awhile back: The couple from the teaser IS in the game… just as Non-playable characters. When you first start the game, if you explore the hall outside your room you will find a room with a dead couple lying on the ground. Its them. You are welcome for that little nugget.
So final thoughts:
Is Dead Island worth the cash? Hell yes. The “Go-fetch” missions can be tedious, but the fast travel points help with that. The most important part of a Zombie game is that it keeps you on the edge of your seat and Dead Island does this very well. You never know when or how many Walking Dead you will have to fight and you truly feel panicked when the dead surround you! Much like real life, weapons break down after repeated use so they have to be maintained and kept in good condition. Also like real life, guns are not everywhere so you’ll have to use what you can and make weapons when you can.
Dead Island may not be the GREATEST game in history, but if you are reading this you love Zombies, Survival Games or both so you will love this game.