Dead Island… Who do YOU Voodoo? Bitch!

It’s amazing how you can have an opinion of a game one minute and it seems like in an instance your on the other side of the fence. When Dead Islands first trailer came out, much like the rest of the world I was in awe, could this finally be a zombie game that captures some of the emotional side of a zombie apocolypse? What could this game be? So so many tantilizing questions sprung into my head.
Then the first gameplay trailers and demos were released and I found myself underwhelmed at what the game actually was. I had seen this before and it does not have any resemblance to that remarkable reveal trailer only a few months before. As time went on and previews were released I went from underwhelmed to simply whelmed, knowing full well no matter my level of whemled-ness I would pick up a copy of Dead Island.

Sadly Dead Island doesnt reach the dizzying emotional heights of the trailer, it does reach amazing heights in fun however.

Now finally playing through it for near on 15 hours (and counting) I can say I am very much filled with whelm and only want to be overly whelmed on a continuous basis. Is it a perfect game? NOT BY A LONG SHOT, but is it a tonne of fun? HELL YES. I guess I could liken my experience with Dead Island to the Muppets Statler and Waldorf.
This game to me is two totally different game experiences in one package. First you have your Solo campaign, which can at times be filled with frights and the horror of a lonely treck. Then on the other end of the spectrum you have co-op, which if done with a friend (or 2 or 3) can be pants crappingly hilarious.

Its a little too hot for all that leather...

First of all the Island of Banoi is great, it’s sunny, it’s beautiful and filled with danger, Just how you like your sandbox. The contrast of such danger and such beauty works well and while a day night cycle wouldn’t hurt the game, there are plenty of underground and other dark and dank areas that ramp up the fear. Sunlight debates aside, there is a lot to do and a lot to explore and with the great implementation of gathering parts and using money for upgrades you will want to rummage through every bag and box you see.

The game story is made up of a main story which is nothing to write home about, but that’s not to be expected. It’s not as though the zombie genre has ever really given us any real David Mamet moments in it’s entire history. You begin the game by choosing one of four possible characters, each different back stories that mean very little and a different special skill, that also doesn’t matter much as you can upgrade any character until they are all about the same in the end. You wake up in your hotel room to what appears to be chaos in sound and leaving your room reveals a zombie apocalypse and for some reason you are the only person immune to the infection.

Throw your hands up in the air!!

The partay never dies on Dead Island...

Sub par story and voice acting aside (as an Australian I have to cringe – I hope I don’t sound like that) the better part of the game is completing side missions for experience points so you can upgrade your skills making your time at Banoi that much easier. Side missions are your standard fetch and or escort type missions however they don’t get tired. Mainly because you can multitask and get a few missions completed at the one time before going back to claim your reward and XP points. These points are used to upgrade your character across three different categories one being your fury or special attack the other two being more towards your combat and survival skills.
The single player mode is one kettle of fish thats for sure, you will twitch and turn at every scream of infected, not knowing which direction they are coming from. The combat is fun and your kick will be your go to weapon most of the time. But spend time (and money) to upgrade and modify weapons you find because nothing can be more fun then a battery powered electric machete when fighting the Zombine hoards. While I’m sure the game was designed for this isolated and lonely feeling the mode that truly shines is  the 4 player co-op.

5000 undead against 4... its gonna be a blood bath...

This mode allows you to either join complete strangers or friends and tackle missions or just knock around. Even with 2 player co-op a majority of the fear all but disappears and you find yourself laughing quite heavily at some of the things you can get up to. Me and two other friends were playing co-op just the other night and were curb stomping zombies 3 on 1, it was almost unfair to the undead but we were having a laugh. Another great thing about the co-op is how easy it is to jump in and out of. You can set up a party before hand or invite your friends or you can simply press left on the d-pad when your indicated that another player is near by.
Okay so so far it seems like a 10 right? well its not all Sunshine, Energy Drinks and Zombie Limbs. Dead Island does at times feel like it was rushed out for release and the term buggy seems an understatement. Some of the well documented ones are the respawn or reload bug which will delete items in your inventory when you die and respawn. Also sometimes (particularly if you choose the throwing expert) you can throw your weapon at a zombie and when you go to retrieve it, its gone or even worse you can see it but it appears stuck under the ground and you cannot pick it up. If this was a weapon you spent thousands of dollars upgrading and modifying this can be pretty inexcusable. The voice acting and animations are both stiff and poor, which is really only annoying due to what seemed like a promising piece of drama thanks to the release trailer.
However none of the above bugs and or bad design really effect the fun of the game all that much.  There isn’t much rhyme or reason to your time on Dead Island other than to survive and have fun beating up zombies with boat paddles. Its not the most polished titles I’ve ever played but even right now I cannot wait to get back to Dead Island.
So with 30+ hours of zombie slaying and tropical island exploring to do Dead Island definitley qualifies as a suitable follow up to Deus Ex as we continue our big game releases for the 2011/2012 year.


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