Top critical review
Dead Island - I Have A Pool Cue And Im Not Afraid To Use It
on 26 February 2012
Dead Island was released for the Irish market in early September 2011, and had one of the slickest trailers I have ever seen for any game. However the combination of zombie horror and gaming isn't exactly new ground, so how did this title stack up against its myriad of predecessors?
The game is set on the fictional island of Banoi which is supposed to be near to Papua New Guinea. As the main character (you select one of four at the start), you wake up in your hotel room, seemingly hungover. You then stagger through the hotel, finding it deserted before finding yourself in a spot of bother.
The game plays from a first person perspective. It is set in a pretty large, free roaming environment and has a strong emphasis on melee combat. You can certainly see that the game is heavily influenced by successful epic RPG titles such as Fallout 3, and borrows heavily from them in its general way that it plays.
The melee combat is the main strong point of the game. You can wield a variety of weapons, ranging from a broomstick (not really ideal when faced with hordes of brain hungry United fans errr I mean zombies) through to an automatic rifle (not as much fun, but certainly more useful). The zombies satisfyingly splatter nicely if you catch them right, so its certainly not for the squeamish. In fact the game itself is rather atmospheric, the background noises for example add the odd chill to the spine. However its looks don't quite live up to the billing of the trailer. It's not awful by any means, I just expected a higher standard from the title. The cut scenes in particular seemed clunky and wooden.
The difficulty curve is a little odd too, it starts out far too easy, then becomes really difficult, then easy then difficult, and so on throughout the game. The story is a little, well, hackneyed and the missions pretty repetitive. More annoyingly occasionally the collision detection seems off, so it can be hard to time your swings when using melee weapons. Its not massively off, but you will be annoyed by it occasionally.
Well so much for the bad points, despite those it is still an enjoyable game. Especially when you exit the holiday resort and go into the City, I enjoyed that section far more and found it both more challenging and more atmospheric. You will soon learn to ration your ammunition making every shot count and keep your weapons in good working order. I do recommend this title to those who like a bit of zombie action, if the Walking Dead is your thing, or if you simply like decapitating a zombie with a hat stand you should get a kick out of this title.
I liked the theme, atmosphere and setting of the game
Nice sized world to explore
The melee combat is gory but great
The online co-op mode is pretty enjoyable
It isn't as slick looking and moving as I'd hoped from the trailers.
The story isn't that well put together, a problem in the rather dull cutscenes.
I quite like the game. It's certainly far from a classic, and it won't be a game I return to again and again, but it certainly had its moments. It's had some serious criticism from other reviewers, some of it justified, but I feel that if you give it a proper go you will get something out of this game. It's just a pity it hasn't been polished to the level that it should have reached. A little more slickness in the game and a little less slickness in the trailer might have done more justice to the title.