Dead Island is an action role playing game set in the early days of a zombie outbreak on a tropical paradise resort. So while gamers are no strangers to the zombie/infected enemy types, the quests of an rpg game and tropical setting add for some variety.
The gameplay in Dead Island has potential. The entirety of the game will be played from a first person perspective, which makes a lot of the melee weapons feel extremely satisfying but creates an odd detachment when firing pistols and rifles. The melee weapons in this game are fantastic! From your bare fists to an electrical katana, it is rare you will find yourself without the perfect tool for a job and even if you do, Dead Island features a weapon crafting system. This system allows you to create not only the Katana I mention, but much more if you have the right blueprints, and that’s the only downside. Because finding blueprints throughout the game served no real challenge, you’ll end up asking yourself “Why do I even need these?” It would have been smarter to have a crafting system like Dead Rising 2 where the only set up for a weapon is having the parts needed and finding a work bench.
Side Note: You can also repair weapons at these work benches.
The gunplay is Dead Island is also a weird “reward and slap” element. The first time I came across a firearm in the game, I saw no use for it because of the amazing melee weapons. However, later in the game you will encounter human enemies which serve as an actual challenge and oddly instilled more fear in me than the infected. When fighting these humans you’ll find that the game has great gun play but an odd barrier to enjoying it. The camera does this unsteady hands movement with any fire arm you use but only in fine aim. Imagine if Call of Duty’s unsteady zoomed in sniper rifle was what you had to use but with every single gun in the game. It served as more of an annoyance than a provision of reality to the game.
The control of your character is great. I never felt cheated when trying to out run infected or humans. I did greatly enjoy the stamina bar in this game. It’s basically a sprint meter, but when in melee combat becomes an energy meter. It doesn’t make the game feel cheap but instead provides a fun mechanic for fighting. This stamina meter also creates some challenge in both gameplay and in the upgrade system. The upgrade system in Dead Island is smart and applies in different areas of the game. 4 levels for each melee weapon. 3 different branches of skills for your character and the ability to repair items.
Dead Island is, for the most part. pretty. Weather changes and bloodied enemies look somewhat realistic. The only time where the game starts to look bad is with character models and texture pop-in. Normally texture pop-in is easily forgiven in a game of this size but because of how frequent this occurs and how long it takes for textures to appear, it wasn’t something that went unnoticed. As for the characters in the game, the ones that you interact with all look plastic for some reason and sometimes under developed. The only real characters that are decent to look at are the 4 characters that you, and online friends, play as. The cars have a cool damage effect in that your windshield will shatter and obscure driving before your character punches out said windshield. The only other issue with the looks of this game is that it feels as if I’m playing with a really poor camera filter on for majority of the first act. I say first act because either the filter subsides or because I adjusted to it as I progressed.
The audio in this game is awful. Sadly most of the characters have accents that either sound fake or are too thick to understand. The only good thing about the audio in this game is the infected. They truly stand out and provided a nice scare but after a while became nothing more than audio cues to A. Change method of fighting or B. Haul ass out of there. The music in this game is decent at best mainly because it felt like it didn’t fit.
Before I give a final score I wanted to mention the hud. It’s done incredibly well. The durability of each weapon you’re using in the top right, the white and red health bar with a barely visible heart beat monitor inside it on the top left and the map in the bottom right make for an easy to understand user interface. The fact that enemy health bars and levels are also shown in this display makes for an awesome look and feel. My only downside to this is the tips that pop up usually when driving while trying to use the mini map. It’s almost not worth mentioning but again because of how much it occurred I could not let it go unstated.
My other side note is the co op in this game and way it presents itself. Dead Island has smart and simple drop in, drop out co op system. This is a true drop in, drop out gameplay mechanic. When other gamers (both on and off your friends list) are in the same area as you, it prompts you in a non interrupting way stating that “so and so is nearby, press <– to join!” and that’s it. This feature also plays both ways so other people online can see you and hop in. Don’t want that? Pause and drop out. It doesn’t mess up gameplay and doesn’t restart the whole mission over. It puts you exactly where you were when playing with that person. Additionally, you can turn off the feature all together. Developer TechLand really used some black magic on this one. It’s done so well.
Overall Dead Island is a fun game that provides a lot of replay value. Sadly, this can affected by poor camera options, odd character models and all to frequent texture pop-ins. So if you got the game on Xbox Live Gold, I highly recommend playing it and if you’re looking to buy it, I recommend buying used. Also, don’t buy Dead Island Riptide. It’s a sad sequel.
3.9 out of 5
I enjoyed it but beating infected/zombies to death can only be fun for a short while with these issues
-Awkward Gun play
By Wylie Dean