‘Dead Island’ Review

Obligatory reference to the teaser trailer. Dead Island is a drop in the ocean of zombie games currently flooding the market. One could say that each new zombie game is going to work extra hard to stand out from the crowd in order to earn sales, but the general populace seem content to assume that every zombie game is awesome until proven otherwise.

Following the stunning marketing campaign that didn’t actually show any gameplay, most retailers started to offer free headsets or controllers for pre-orders it would be easy to assume that they were trying to move as many copies as possible before everyone realised that it was rubbish. Imagine my surprise that it’s actually decent and somewhat original.

Taking a first person perspective and an emphasis on melee weapons does set it apart stylistically, and the zombies represent genuine threats rather than simply random targets that burst like blood-filled balloons on impact. Getting cornered by a couple usually spells death, so a bit more strategy that “CHARGE!” is required. Also working in the games favour is how solid the weapons feel. Compared to melee attacks in, say, ‘Fallout 3’ or ‘Half-life 2’ which is akin to brushing a crowbar gently against your opponent while they stumble around, the attacks on ‘Dead Island’ are heavy and visceral, which thick sound effects impacts that you can almost feel up your arm.

Nowhere near a perfect experience though. The original setting – a bright and colourful resort – is quickly swapped out for a grimy city setting. The side quests are all fetch quests and it’s easy to get fatigued with the zombie bashing/item grabbing pretty quickly. It makes a good game to come back to, but you’re unlikely to complete it start to finish. Also it’s a bit odd that the zombies can drown. Multiplayer does add a bit of extra fun, and being able to drop into another person’s game when close to them on the map is a nice touch.

Ultimately a solid first-person beat-em-up with light RPG seasoning.