Ever since we first saw the cinematic trailer that stood out amongst a crowd of tough competition at E3 2011, Dead Island has been the center of attention amongst fans of multiple genres. Dead Island is Fallout 3 meets Left 4 Dead. The game utilizes the style of Fallout’s open world exploration, but takes a lot from the art direction of Left 4 Dead. This combination suites the game extremely well.
The game opens with you on a tropical island resort that has been overrun with zombies. The game’s story is actually quite good for a zombie game. You must find as many survivors as you can, and team up with them to get off the island. You run into a lifeguard very early on that guides you through the entire first chapter as you get weapons, build an armored car, and search for supplies around the massive island.
The game’s graphics are fantastic. Outdoor areas look beautiful and you can’t help but take a moment to enjoy the ocean view. Colors are vivid and interesting, serving for a very different experience in an apocalyptic game. Dark indoor resort areas are intricately designed and are filled with zombies to keep you on your toes. The game does have some rendering issues at times, and I found myself watching items in areas pop into view minutes after I entered. The human interactions are pretty good for the most part, but most provide useless and boring information. The camera zooms in to put their face directly in the center of the screen as they talk to you, similar to Fallout or Skyrim. This style makes all of the interactions feel very forced and conversations tend to flow poorly. Still, the game is absolutely massive and you’ll explore an entire city, the jungles, the sewers, and more. Each area has it’s own challenges and story. Overall, the presentation of the game is solid with minor issues.
Dead Island’s unique gameplay is it’s strong point. The game utilizes mostly melee combat, which you get very good at quick. There are hundreds of different melee weapons ranging from bats to tools to swords. The game then uses a Fallout type system where you repair and upgrade items at tool-benches. The possibilities are infinite customizing weapons. Guns are introduced a third through the game, but you’ll find yourself using melee weapons more anyway to conserve ammo. Like Fallout, you can pick up basically any items in a room, use them in some way, or sell them a vender. Driving mechanics also function very well, but American players will take awhile to adjust getting in on the right side.
Dead Island borrows a lot from Fallout, but in a good way. Environments are beautiful and a good change of pace from your normal zombie apocalypse game. It’s a great looking game with some noticeable, but not huge, flaws that will keep you busy for a long, long time.
Words by Brett Stewart.