Dead Island Review
This is how you make a Zombie game.
Remember when Techland released that first trailer for Dead Island, and we were all blown away? Then they released the not so great Call of Juarez The Cartel and we were worried that Dead Island would suffer the same fate? Well now that Dead Island is finally out, is it actually any good? Yes, yes it is.
The single player campaign places you on the fictional island of Banoi, located off the coast of Papua New Guinea, where a Zombie outbreak has occurred. You wake up in the deserted Resort, only to find no one else around, except a whole lot of Zombies. You manage to meet up with some other survivors and begin your journey to escape the island. The story isn’t groundbreaking in terms of Zombie story telling, but it is definitely better than most Zombie games lately.
You can pick from 4 characters: Logan (Throwing Expert), Purna (Firearms Expert), Xian (Sharp Weapon Expert) and Sam B (Blunt Weapon Expert). Any character can use any weapon, but depending on who you pick they will become more efficient with their weapon class via the skill tree. As you kill Zombies and complete missions, you will earn experience points, and when you level up, you earn a skill point to upgrade something on the skill tree. It’s very similar to the XP/Level system found in Borderlands. Actually Techland must have played a lot of Borderlands as there are a lot of similarities, which is a good thing as that was a great game.
The quests are setup in two types; Story and Side. Story missions will be available via NPC’s who are working to get the survivors rescued and side missions can be obvious from survivors hanging around, or they can be hidden quests that you may only find if you stumble across them while exploring the island. Banoi is a big island, so luckily Techland have included the ability to Fast travel to locations that you’ve already explored and the use of vehicles. Vehicles let you and three friends hop in and mow down any Zombies who dare get in your way as you cruise around the island. It’s like they read our minds and realized that sometimes it’s fun to still take the scenic route, but speed up the travel time as well.
The weapons in Dead Island range from Shotguns and Pistols to Cleavers and Broomsticks. You can also punch and kick Zombies as well, and kicking a Zombie while he is down is perfectly acceptable in the Zombie Apocalypse. Dead Island also supports a weapon upgrade/creation system where you can find ‘Mods’ to create new weapons from parts you find around the island. Some mods you will find randomly, and some you will earn for completing certain missions. To build the new weapons you must find and use a workbench (just like Dead Rising). There are parts scattered around the entire island so if you take the time to look around, you won’t have a problem finding items.
There are a few flaws to be found as well, but nothing that is going to affect your game or make it less fun. Sometimes you will notice some graphical glitches, like characters heads getting stuck sideways when they are supposed to be looking straight at you, trucks driving through objects they should have run over, and some other random things we saw. Nothing major and most of it’s just funny to see and doesn’t affect how you play the game or anything. The graphics are also pretty good when you are in-game, but the cut scenes can be a little rough around the edges, but in the end who cares, it’s just a cut scene. I care more about what happens when I am in control, than when I am just listening to some NPC’s talk. We also saw a few instances where you would go to search a container or suitcase for items and it would show nothing to be found, but then you click again it now has items, a small glitch but it can cause you to miss an important item if you’re not careful.
With more than 75 missions to complete, plenty of collectibles to find around the huge island, and tons of zombies to kill, you won’t have a problem finding something to do here, it’s a big game with lots of fun in store for you.
Dead Island can be played alone, or with up to 3 players online cooperatively through the main campaign, and it’s a blast. The co-op is easy to set up, and supports drop in-drop out, a must have for a survival game. There is nothing worse than having to drop out of a game early only to lose all your progress, or have to wait for your friends to finish a level before you can join.
While playing co-op, as long as the host is not too far ahead of you in the story, you can all complete missions, earn xp, money, and items together as you explore the island. It’s best to keep a separate character for while playing co-op and then another for playing solo. If you do enter into a game with someone who is ahead of you, you can still complete missions with them, but it will only carry over the items you found and the EXP you earned from kills, not from missions. This makes it still fun to go on a killing spree with some friends, and not be completely worthless to your character.
Even though the back of the game case says Online Multiplayer 2-4, there are no competitive multiplayer modes in Dead Island, but I don’t think it would be worth including and co-op was a much smarter choice. My guess is they were just referring to the fact you can join public games in progress, but it’s still just playing co-op but with random gamers instead of your friends.
If you love games that are easy and quick to earn all 1000G, you should look for another game. The achievements in Dead Island are mostly setup to make you play for a while such as Reach Level 50, Finish 75 Quests, Travel 20km on foot, Explore the Entire Island and others. The rest of the achievements are fairly standard for earning different types of kills with different weapons, finding collectibles, creating weapons and more.
Dead Island plays like a great mix of Fallout, Borderlands, Left 4 Dead and Dead Rising. All great games on their own but spliced together you get an amazing journey of survival horror in Dead Island. With a lengthy campaign that can be played alone or online cooperatively, a huge island to explore with plenty of collectibles to find, you are going to be playing this for a while, and loving every minute of it.