Dead Island Review
What is Dead Island? Well, it’s a open world, action RPG that’s set on a funky tropical holiday island, and said island has become overrun by zombies. Bloody zombies.
There’s been a bit of heated discussion on the Steam forums regarding the exact nature of DI’s genre / sub-genre, but I’m happy with the official description of action/RPG. So there.
There are four characters to choose from: Xian Mei, a sexy female ninja (or similar); Sam B, a fading male rapper whose down on his luck but tough as nails; Logan, a former American Football star who’s lost his mind and looks like David Beckham circa 1991, and finally, Purna, a female cop who also lost her marbles and killed a child molester. Lovely.
The characters all have their own unique fighting styles and specialities, and as this is an RPG, there are of course skill trees, three of them in fact. The combat system is pure FPS and very, very violent. I mean incredibly, gruesomely violent. There have been times when I felt genuinely guilty for the sadistic frenzies my character has unleashed on the unsuspecting infected fools.
Weapons come in many shapes and forms such as iron pipes, planks, baseball bats, machetes, knives, pistols, rifles, grenades…and more. All the weapons can be modded by crafting improvements, but the blueprint and items must be obtained first. Weapons also degrade with use but can repaired for a cost at the crafting station, or workbench, if you prefer.
Being an RPG, DI has the expected array of NPCs to meet and greet, such as shopkeepers, nuns and bikini clad drunken women. Which brings me to the quests. Quests, quests quests, how I hate thee. Usually. But not this time! This is a good time to admit that I am an RPG whore. I pick them up, toy with them for a while, then inevitably become bored and move on before the relationship has reached it’s full potential.
A lot of this is because I don’t like being told what to do by lazy, self righteous quest givers who want to sit around by a cosy fire while I collect them a dozen silver dragon teeth from the top of doom mountain. Or similar.
Where was I? Quests. The quests in DI are reasonably quick to complete and in my most humble of opinions, varied and not annoying. But it’s not about the quests anyway, for they are really a great excuse to slaughter lots and lots of zombies in as many different ways as you can find.
Levelling up happens at an appropriate rate and the balance is well done. Some zombies are very tough, but it’s not just about brute force, tactics are vital to survive.
One aspect of DI that took me by surprise was the appearance of human enemies in the form of gun toting gangs. This leads to some highly enjoyable and brilliantly created shoot-outs.
Visually, I find DI stunning. The world is vast and highly detailed with various unique areas to explore. The soundtrack is expertly crafted and perfectly fitting. There is a ton of polish on this game.
Of course there have been criticisms made about DI, mostly regarding technical bugs at release, but Techland have released various patches and will continue to iron out the flaws. That said, at the time of writing I’ve played 45 hours without any bugs at all.
What with there being four characters, you won’t be surprised to read that DI can be played with three friends in online co-op mode. You can also randomly join other players who happen to be in the same area as you. I actually played mostly alone, which was challenging and extremely good fun. The only problem with playing alone is that the cut-scenes make absolutely no sense, as they always include all the characters. Mind you, this also makes no sense when playing with a team of three Xian Meis, as I often have.
There are vehicles to drive around the island in, and these can provide much joy by using them as zombie crushing death machines. Some motorcycles would have been nice too, but I suppose we can’t have everything.
There is a DLC coming soon named ‘Bloodbath Arena’, which I guess is a sort of arena style bloodbath.
I like Dead Island. I like it a lot. I may even love it.
It’s provided us with a proper zombie survival, hack n’ slash, blow their heads off, stamp on their face, rip their guts out beast of a game.
Like a flesh eating zombie banging on your door, this game will not go away.
It’s a classic in the making. Don’t miss it.
Dead Island is developed by Techland and published by Deep Silver.
AMD 4200+ X2 2233 MHz CPU
ATI HD4670 512mb GPU
Windows XP SP3