Dead Island is a gruesome feast of zombie blood, terror, and the lovely soundscapes of the ocean concocted in a horrifically brutal mix of excitement, intensity, and guts. The earlier CG cinematic of Dead Island has an uncanny resemblance to the opening sequence of Dawn of the Dead, and Deep Silver revealed this CG opening as just a teaser to their game in which they wanted to show a preemptive dedication to the zombie-tropical apocalypse title. Many fans have been aching for Left 4 Dead, a similar zombie title by Valve Software, to provide a storyline that is cohesive and connected, which never came to complete sense. Dead Island does have problems in terms of mission pacing and gameplay mechanic variety that easily become linearly stale at times, but there is also action, dialogue, leveling and music that stand out from any other zombie game ever created to this point. All of this tropical survival instinct within the island of Banoi is something to take a sight of in this tropical-zombie apocalypse.
Dead Island’s storyline is entirely the reason people will end up playing this title at one point or another despite any gameplay issues. Based on films such as Dawn of the Dead and Survival of the Dead, Dead Island pays a homage that relatively brings certain movie thriller formats to the interactive screen, putting an end to the demands for people who have been wondering why more publishers do not take advantage of the lacking zombie genre. The opening cinematic reveals party nightlife within the island of Banoi, which includes plenty of cocktails and a lot of vomiting around the island’s lovely Royal Palms Resort. As the drunkard you are, you are led to your hotel room in a stupor and pass out. This is where the real fun begins. Like the CG cinematic revealed by Deep Silver, you wake up in a hotel room with lots of exciting atmospheric elements. People being ripped to shreds and much more we will not detail. The storyline of Dead Island continues from here, leading to character choice and the adventure that is Dead Island.
As you emerge from your drunken stupor, you realize you are not faced with a vacation, but more like a sickening reality which could even happen to each and every one of us: plague on an island with lots of bugs, mosquitoes, and plenty of mutated Yersinia pestis for everyone to have. Every character of Dead Island has his/her own weaknesses and strengths. One of the biggest strengths, and also one of the annoying simplistic storyline developments we have with Dead Island, is that the four individuals are miraculously immune to becoming zombies. Fortunately, these lucky 4 can still be shredded to death and have their guts eaten, which keeps anyone playing invested to find out the mysteries of the island.
Dead Island’s primary design focus is in the open-world freedom of the island, similar to Crysis. Players can choose from multiple side-quests along with main quests that are dispersed around the island, with surprising survivalists and certain situations. Along the way, players feature certain great thrills with a zombie horde suddenly arising from parts of the island, and there is a level of intensity to the mission pacing. While this intensity keeps strong for most of the game, there are times where the surprises are just too few in-between the actual missions and arriving to an actual mission endpoint. At times, Dead Island does unfortunately feel too slasheresque without some real substance similar to certain movies like Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later. One constantly hopes for more thrills and out-cinematic plot twists, but instead it is just zombie after zombie which can become a bit tersely tiresome.
After every quest, the player is rewarded with experience points to give strength to the RPG-element fashion of a leveling tree for each character, giving variety to protagonist skills. RPG Elements of Dead Island are the basis of what makes it a better zombie game than most, despite being traditionally simplistic. Weapon customizations also follow and are one of the biggest types of elements to any game which involves either shooting or fighting off a mass horde of zombies, Chimera, etc. The battle structure is relatively close quarters, and basic weapons can be combined without the need for any sort of blueprint materials. Weapons can be hurled, but still remain the stagnant element in terms of Dead Island’s creativity in gameplay mechanics where the variety of action does not venture away from a simple button masher.
The online cooperative gameplay mode of Dead Island is fun, where friends can jump in and jump out of the cooperative gameplay mode. Experience points and skills from single-player can be brought into multiplayer and vice versa. This creates a connectivity that is simple yet something hardly many game developers get right. The online cooperative 4-player mode brings the essentials of multiplayer together through not only cooperative campaign, but also cooperative slasher in Blood Arena with waves of zombies. All of the features of Dead Island’s multiplayer are elements which increase the replay value tremendously.
The sounds of Dead Island are great, but there are a lot of typical elements during a battle, where you might hear zombies eating people around a corner and what not. While Dolby Surround technology is used, there is not too much happening in the surround channels to consider 5.1 necessary for Dead Island, and stereo should be equivalently enjoyable to anyone who uses bigger surround speakers, unless you really care about hearing the ocean on your side left and side Dolby PL IIz systems.
Techland and Deep Silver’s Dead Island at last provides this zombie adventure to those who have been waiting a long time for a game with Bethesda’s Fallout elements, and a storyline driven action title that is bound to leave anyone wanting more. There are apparently glaring problems with gameplay pacing and the simplistic gameplay mechanics, but there is a lot of action that still happens to token this one of the better zombie titles of 2011. If not, the only decent zombie title that will be made for a while. While the concept of another Dead Island seems rather repetitive, it could happen and fix all the problems with this title. Regardless, Dead Island is a decent zombie title that gives zombie fans a lot of what they have been requesting of a zombie game, even with all its imperfections. Dead Island should be enough to hold off anyone until a better zombie game comes along that will leave us all surging for the blood of our relatives.