18th September 2011 - So the long awaited Dead Island which is a zombie survival title from Techland and Deep Silver, famous for their Call of Juarez series and Chrome series, has finally arrived. Will this latest release by Techland be a flop like the latest Call of Juarez game or will it be a standing success to all the Zombie game fans out there? Read on to find out more.
The story begins with your character waking up smack bang in the middle of a Zombie apocalypse on the fictional island of Banoi which is located in Papua New Guinea. Your character will eventually progress to finding other survivors which thus begins our survival story. The game focuses on first person melee which is a very interesting element to add to a role playing survival game. Players will be battling zombies with their own means whilst trying to survive and help other survivors.
The player will be able to choose from 1 of 4 different protagonists to progress their story with, each character has its different abilities and some focus on speed, another character will focus on strength etc. There's many different ways you can play your character to its strengths and weaknesses. The characters consist of Sam B, a washed up rapper trying to kick-start his career again, Logan, a former football star who is trying to escape his past, Xian Mei, an employee at the Royal Palm Resort (starting place) whose dream is to travel the globe and Purna, who is a former police officer now a hired bodyguard for VIPs. Each character has its main focus which is basically how you should approach their gameplay style Sam B is strong and can take a lot of damage and uses Blunt Weapons mainly, Logan is a jack of all trades and uses Thrown Weapons mainly, Purna is a skilled marksman so she uses Guns very skilfully and Xian Mei is very quick on her feet and she is strongest with Sharp Weapons.
Each Character has their own special ability kind of like Borderlands in that respect how each class has its own power up type ability that can be used every so often. Sam B can use Haymaker; he puts on his Brass Knuckles and goes into a berserk fury being able to cause a large amount of damage very quickly. Xian Mei can use Bloodrage which allows her to deal with her opponents very quickly and precisely. Logan can use Bullseye which allows him to throw multiple thrown weapons at enemies whilst being very accurate in doing so. Purna is basically the healer of the team her ability Guardian heals all close by allies and also allows her to fire her sidearm even if she currently has no ammo.
The character development in this game is similar to that of World of Warcraft players are rewarded experience for completing side missions and main missions which in turn allow them to level up and gain talent points which they can put into the 3 following trees. Fury is the talent tree for upgrading your special ability, Combat is basically weapon related and is the talent tree if you wish to upgrade your durability and specialize more into your characters weapon types and the Survival skill tree which is basically to help you survive in the fictional world of Banoi.
Players will come across many various weapons in the game and theyrange the same as Borderlands common (white colour) is the lowest and exceptional (orange) is the highest tier of weapon very similar to World of Warcraft as well. Weapons also have durability which will require the player to frequent workbenches to repair their gear so it's wise to choose your weapons to play your characters strengths and because putting Skill points into your combat tree will also allow your weapons to last longer. Another main part of the game allows the player to modify their weapons from picking up schematics they come across on the island. This can range from upgrading your weapon to electrocute enemies whenever you critical strike them to poisoning your weapon to make your enemies vomit whenever you critical strike them. There are a lot of different modifications to make your game that much different depending on how you play.
Players will also come across different zombie variants ranging from the regular zombie which is called a Walker (homage to The Walking Dead possibly?), Infected which are very fast zombies and Suiciders which are basically zombies that explode if you get close to them which can basically kill a player in 1 hit which is another interesting survival element added to the game. Players will come across mini boss type zombies as well such as the Thug, which is basically a heavy regular zombie which can take a lot of beating as well as give it, Floaters, which are basically large bloated zombies that can take a lot of a beating and vomit at you as well, the Ram zombie is next which is exactly how it sounds, this zombie will attempt to Ram you over (similar to the Charger in Left 4 Dead 2) you basically have to coax this zombie to hit a wall so you can damage him and last but not least the Butcher zombie, which is essentially an upgraded infected zombie one kick from a Butcher zombie will drain all of your stamina completely adding again more survival elements to the game.
This game has no multiplayer as such but mainly focuses on the Coop ability to opt in opt out of games. This makes the game very interesting because the more players that join in the more increasingly difficult the game becomes. Which basically means you have to work as a team and work together to reach your goals which adds a lot more survival elements to the game.
The graphics are very breathtaking at times and very glitchy at other times, but overall the graphics are very good for an RPG game and a very vast environment like Dead Island has. The cinematics are not very well done in comparison to the overall environment but I believe the entire game is based off actual gameplay not designing CGI towards making better cinematics. On the Xbox these graphics are very good for today’s standards and especially all things considered this is an RPG game which is a very huge environment.
The score for this game can be encapsulating at times and creepy at others, the score really sets the mood for this game being a survival horror game at times. But other times it can also be very irritating I've found at least. Overall though the music score is quite mood setting and very amazing.
The voice acting wasn't very amazing as you could tell the person acting was not Australian or from PNG. I actually got rather irritated at times because some of the voice acting made no sense I mean how could large groups of Rastafarians be situated in Papua New Guinea?
The problem with surround sound headsets and HD surround sound setups is that you can pick up where the zombies are so you won't really get any major jumps because most of the time you can expect zombies to appear just from hearing their heavy panting and screams. This however doesn't drop the element of horror the real element this game is trying to portray is survival which it does perfectly with the sound.
Weapons are basically spot on with how they would sound if you're using a heavy hammer you're going to expect to hear bones crunching and heavy thuds which is basically what you hear, same can be said about sharp weapons you expect to hear cuts and slash noises which you do. Deep Silver have done a really good job with how the weapons should sound when hitting, slashing, throwing things etc.
For me this game was a must buy because a) I'm a fan of zombie games and b) it has 4 player coop which is something I thoroughly enjoy about games. I think this game really delivers on is survival horror element and the RPG setting really puts this game in the same league as games like Farcry, Borderlands and Fallout. It has a lot of playability and you'll spend many many hours having fun with friends or just playing by yourself and attempting to survive. The fact that each character has its own playstyle which adds a lot of elements to the gameplay and can allow players to play based on what they enjoy the most.
Overall I found this game thoroughly enjoyable. There were a lot of things I haven't mentioned in this review because it is a very vast and hard to explain game so with that said I've tried to talk about as much as I could whilst keeping it brief and not too long a read. I found the Coop a lot of fun playing with 3 friends really adds a lot more difficulty to the game which can make it a lot more enjoyable and very strategical. The game also pays homage to games like Borderlands and Fallout 3 which are other titles I really enjoyed. I would compare the RPG elements of Dead Island similar to that of Borderlands so for people who enjoyed Borderlands but didn't like the Cell Shaded environment they will find Dead Island very interesting. This game is truly set apart from other titles because there are not many survival horror games currently out and I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys Coop or an immersive single player experience. Fans of zombie games like Left 4 Dead, Borderlands and Fallout 3/New Vegas will also thoroughly enjoy this experience.
+ Immersive single player and Coop experience.
+ Character customization allows players to play how they want to play.
+ Weapon modification adds a new element to how players can play.\line - Amazing Survival experience.
+ Very large environment spaced out over several maps and has very small loading times.
- Poor voice acting.
- Annoying music score at times but immersive at other times.
- Graphical Glitches.
- Lots of bugs with the game (but realistically all RPG games have this when they first release).
Reviewed and Written By James Gott