Who doesn’t like a vacation on a tropical island, umbrella cocktails, girls in brief bikini and translucent waters as a Murano crystal … The only problem would be a “little” virus that turned people into zombies almost all now committed to eating meat, not blasphemy. The few survivors must find a way not only to escape the island, but also to stop the bizarre epidemic, from which you have to choose some characters which are conveniently immune to that virus.
Dead Island is a pretty strange combination of genres: it has zombies, but it is not survival horror, it’s first-person shooter but it’s not, dedicated screenshots too awkward made, it doesn’t even have a moving story. It has an open world, however, emphasis on melee combat, part RPG it brings a healthy benefit levels, experience every zombie can be destroyed, degradable weapons and improvements, plus a four cooperative online.
Once you pass the introduction of the weak and pathetic dialogue and you successfully ignore doubtful voices, you are free to enter the entire island, from the beach resort to the jungle, towns and sewers. In addition to basic tasks, a wide range of side quests give you the opportunity to walk through all the corners, collecting money from zombie tourists abandoned suitcases, all kinds of objects for improved weapons or machine parts. Most missions are in the category “very trivial”, especially in the second act, the sewers, but the beach is downright creepy.
You do not see every day a pool full of blood, corpses floating casually chewed three quarters, muttering threatening zombie in exchange booths or in the bath, and after every corner surprises you might like hide. At one point it even better to miss them because they gather in large groups, and the hero he is immune to the virus but not to death, fortunately, the only financial penalty if you die is that you are returned to life just a few meters away from the place of death, ready to take vengeance.
It is also extremely fun to crush zombies with the car and obviously more efficient than with a hammer, machete or a paddle. Dead Island is borrowing many of the co-op shooter from Valve, although not always very well done (see pale imitations of the zombie like bosses, which are bigger and more powerful versions of normal undying).
And like another weapon systems, this time borrowed from Dead Rising 2. Almost every pipe, stick, piece of wood can become a weapon, but there are also knives, axes and hammers. Whether you approach, or you throw weapons the emphasis is put on melee weapons, firearms appear later and are not great to use, when going after more than human enemies (yes, there are of these, but I would have to spoil the story), but even without these all can be improved until they have poison, electric shocks or spikes. Unfortunately, weapons degrade incredibly quickly, even if it is unique or special items, so you often wake up with a trivial bat or a pipe as a weapon.
The combat style is to say the less full of blood. The most effective method of killing is to crush the head of the attacker, preferably in the first blow, which will spread the brain in every direction, flesh, blood, a delight for those who appreciate such quantities of plasma non-stop. Personally, I said disgusted after about 10 hours, but that’s just me…
The visual is probably the most problematic, in addition to any awkward effect that happens in battle, where the engine misfires. Graphics may look better, but everything is very dull for the details and landscapes are copied from one area to another. Cinematic sequences were absent, and at first you need some time to get used to character movement and attacks. Animations are not proud, nor are the level of detail, except zombies, but their sounds, are 100 times better achieved and even able to shoot a couple of scares out of you if you are in a darker area. Obviously, everything is covered with generous amounts of blood and guts, so you do not stand to look around too much.
The cooperative, online only, lets you enter any ongoing game if you’ve already reached that level and to work with up to four players, just the number of characters to choose from in single-player. Connection via Steam is extremely stable, so there were no technical problems, only that I failed to find any game that had even four people to participate in the action. However, even in the two is very fun: you can heal your partner and you may be healed and you can attack and trade, changing objects.
Obviously, there were plenty of things to improve, but those from Techland have managed a much better job with Dead Island than the recent Call of Juarez: The Cartel. Technically, no shortage of bugs and awkward, but the overall experience will take about 20 hours into the campaign, because there are many weapons and missions and levels. But if you want horror stories this is not the ideal video game.