Zombie games are getting the norm now and we thought that people might be getting sick of the genre, then along comes Dead Island to fly in the face of all that, to prove that the public don't seem to care that the game has been getting some low scores from various critics and review sites alike. Gamers have spoken and the game's been enjoying massive sales, so massive that many game retailers are out of stock even now.
There's a reason too, because at the heart of it all, Dead Island, despite the bugs (which have been mostly fixed thanks to the new patch on the 360 now) it's a damn good game and a lot of fun.Story
Welcome to the Island of Banoi, the beautiful vacation location where you can just kick back, relax and have your face torn off by the flesh eating undead. Something has happened here and you wake up to find that your hotel is now full of something terrible, something that wants to feast on you.
The story is told mostly through character narrative and fairly well directed cut-scenes, they feature the four main protagonists of the game most of the time. Gameplay
Dead Island is a first person action RPG, it has character growth, dialogue, tons of loot and scads of the undead to maim in mostly melee combat. It's all about using your arsenal of ever-growing weapons to terminate the current threat and achieve the quest objective, and there are a lot of quests, which have a similar feel to them but subtle variants keep them flowing fresh and fairly interesting. There are several main story quests in the huge locations to keep you interested, and then there are the side quests which can offer rewards, cash, weapons or weapon mods.
Dead Island loves weapon mods, from shock mods to things like cleavers and swords, to fire mods that make ever-burning sticks and so on. There are benefits to exploring off the beaten track and looking out for people to rescue and places to break into. One could be right if they compared Dead Island to a cross between Borderlands, Dead Rising and Left 4 Dead, except Dead Island manages to do a fantastic job of actually making you feel like you're in a zombie horror and not just a walking badass with a shock maul that would rival the Space Marines thunder hammer. You run or try and sneak from one place to the next across a massive island and city, you're harried at every turn by the undead and you don't automatically regenerate your health. You need to keep a supply of medkits or find food and drink to keep your health bar stocked if you've taken a beating from the zombies. You have a flashlight and that runs out, so you need to let it recharge.
Weapons don't last forever and they can be repaired, for the right amount of cash, they can also be upgraded so that they deliver more damage and force, as well as last longer. You can only carry a certain amount of items on your person, unless you upgrade that via your skill tree and then it becomes a tactical choice...do you want that sweet increase in damage for you and your comrades, or do you want to be able to carry 2 more baseball bats?
You're also going to scavenge for items, things that you can use to modify weapons or trade with your fellow survivors. There are vehicles which you can use to get around the island, mostly pickup trucks and the like, but they offer a quick and safe transport option until you can unlock a fast travel, which of course means that you'll miss out on the XP from maimed zombies though.
You get varying XP from zombies, based on a few factors. If you've got a bonus multiplier from one of the character's skill trees, if you do a headshot or if you assisted in a co-op zombie kill (more on co-op later). The tougher zombies take more damage and often yield greater rewards. There are also different classes of zombies from the slow walkers, to the insane screaming infected and a few others we won't mention.
The combat system in Dead Island comes in two flavours, digital and analogue. If you opt for the former, you'll get a simple swinging system that lets you wade in and kill zombies with fairly good results. If you go for the analogue route, you'll get a combat system that lets you target zombie body parts more accurately, swing your melee weapon for real using the controller stick and deliver force proportional to the harshness of the swing. In other words, the analogue method takes some getting used to but it's the more rewarding of the two.
You also have an unlockable Fury skill that can turn the tide in a fight in your favour, you need to build up Rage to trigger it but once you have a full Rage meter it's time to lay down the law old school!
You can also throw any equipped melee weapon at the living dead. Just remember to pick it up later on since you might need it. There are four main characters in Dead Island and each one has a role to fulfil rather like you tend to find in Dungeons and Dragons, or in World of Warcraft.
Sam B: The fading one-hit wonder rap star is a great guy for the Tank class; he is your heavy hitter with blunt objects and can take damage that would normally knock down someone lighter. He can regenerate health from his skill tree. His Fury skill lets him pile on the damage and upgrades the team whilst it's active.
Purna: She's now a bodyguard and a master with firearms; she's also pretty handy with sharp objects and gets some nice bonus XP from her skill tree. She also has passive upgrades for a cooperative game. Her Fury lets her unleash a sidearm even if she has no gun equipped.
Logan: Once a great Football hero (American Football that is), Logan can also pitch a mean ball and he's the best at throwing knives etc. He can seriously lay down some thrown projectiles with his Fury and he's a good all rounder.
Xian Mei: She's the Hotel Receptionist and now thrust into a zombie apocalypse, she does what she can to survive. She's a master of sharp weapons and her Fury skill is a kind of berserker rage that makes her twice as deadly. Once again, she offers bonuses to cooperative parties in multiplayer.