Review by Raganork10

"Wow, I was shocked at how good this game is"

I'm not going to get into how the trailer for this game looks nothing at all like the final product, because I would just ramble on for ten paragraphs or so. I will say this though: if you were expecting a story-driven and graphically-astounding game like the trailer would lead to to believe, look away from Dead Island. You won't find an intricate or impressive plot here, nor will you find the visuals to be all that impressive. What you will find, in Dead Island, is a difficult game with some of the most satisfying combat to be found in RPGs.

VISUALS: 7/10

You won't be blown away by the graphical department in Dead Island. Character animations are stiff, facial animations are almost nonexistent (save for the lip synching), cut-scenes look sub-par, and there is some texture pop-ins whenever you enter a new area. Loading times last around 15-20 seconds, though you'll only really see a loading screen when you enter a new area.

What is impressive is the level of detail put into the weapons for this game. You'll mainly be using melee weapons throughout the adventure, and as you use a weapon, it's condition will degrade. As a weapon's condition degrades, the weapon itself starts to look more and more worn-out. For instance, when you find a new machete the blade with be sharp, and it will glisten in the light. As the weapon reaches its breaking point, the blade will be caked with blood and guts, the edge will become dull, and the blade will bend. This level of detail really shows you how much carnage you've caused with your weapons, and how your massacre has affected your blades' condition.

Blunt weapons, such as baseball bats ans sticks, are treated in a similar manner: the wood will splinter and crack as it gets used. Unfortunately, blunt weapons will become completely destroyed if used until they reach their breaking point.

SOUND: 6/10

There is nothing really impressive to note for the musical score arranged for Dead Island. You'll mostly hear faint tunes playing in the background when there's no action going on, but none of it is really memorable. In fact, I don't remember any of the songs that were played during my adventure.

The voice acting is similarly unimpressive. Voices range from decent to hilariously bad. My favorite voice actor is the head lifeguard, Sinamoi, who is trying his hardest to pull off an Australian accent. Whenever he said the word "hotel" he would pronounce it as "Odell", which I found as absolutely hilarious for some reason.

Sound effects for weapons sound decent enough. You got sharp, crisp noises when a blade is swung, and a loud, cracking noise when a hammer smashes the head of a zombie. Guns all sound decent enough, though I'm not really an expert in gun noises to be honest.

STORY: 5/10

I came into this game expecting an emotional, powerful story about a family coping with their daughter's transformation into a zombie and her death. This is because that's what I saw in the trailer for this game. Little did I know that this game is very light on story, and what story it does have is both cliched and uninteresting.

The game centers around 4 people that are immune to a zombie virus and their attempt to escape the island where the outbreak occurred. The plot is extremely predictable and serves mainly as a way for you get get from one locale to the next. You start out on a beach and eventually move your way throughout a few other locations, which I won't spoil.

Cut-scenes are very minimalistic and don't really show much character development, which I find odd considering this is an RPG.

The ending leaves something to be desired, although I did find the ending to be a bit touching, but for spoiler's sake I won't say what happens.

I can't say I'm all that surprised though, as almost all zombie games severely lack in plot, and this game is no exception.

GAMEPLAY: 9/10

This is where Dead Island really shines. If you give it a chance, you will find a complex and satisfying combat system in Dead Island that will keep you playing for hours at a time.

As I mentioned earlier, this is game is very melee-focused, with some gunfights thrown around here and there. You will use knives, bats, sticks, hammers, cleavers, katanas, rifles, pistols, pipes, oars, grenades, molotovs, and more in Dead Island. Your preference will be largely determined by which character you choose to play as.

There are four characters to pick from in this game: two females (one that focuses on guns and the other that focuses or sharp weapons) and two males (one that focuses on blunt weapons and the other on throwing weapons). They are each balanced rather nicely, though choosing to play as Xian, the female focused on sharp weapons, will make the game slightly more difficult for inexperienced players.

By leveling up, you gain a point to place in your skill tree for each character. Each skill tree is broken down into three distinct categories, and it's your choice to determine which skills you want to invest your points in. To my knowledge, you can't reassign points after you allocated them to a certain skill, so choose your skills wisely.

In the same vein as Borderlands, you will find hundreds of weapons scattered around the island, but each weapon is leveled. Meaning, you can only equip weapons if you meet their level requirements. Each weapon you use, save for firearms, will degrade with each strike. For example, you may find yourself an amazing weapon that can decapitate zombies with ease, but it might have low durability. If that's the case, then after 5 or 6 swings, the weapon will become useless, dealing hardly any damage. Because of this, you must carry multiple weapons with you at all times to defend yourself against different types of zombies.

Speaking of zombies, there are only around six or seven types of zombies, half of which are special zombies that can kill you in 2-3 hits. This means that you should plan on dying over and over again if you play this game by yourself. Thankfully, you don't have to play this game by yourself because there is a cooperative mode in which up to four people can tackle missions together. You can join any player that is around the same point as you in the main story missions. Unfortunately, there is no split-screen, which could have really benefited this game.

You can also mod weapons in this game by collecting junk scattered around drawers, closets, suitcases, and more. With this junk, and a little bit of money, you can turn weapons into powerful new creations. For example, a battery and some wires can turn an ordinary machete into an electrified machete, capable of shocking enemies with each hit from the blade. There are tons of mods, most of which can be obtained by completing side quests.

Prior to the first patch of the game, I heard people mentioning that this game has multiple game-breaking glitches. I, personally, did not find any of these glitches, although I have found a few minor glitches of my own. From my experience, I encountered:

- zombies clipping through the ground
- spawning in an area I've never been to before
- cut-scenes won't unless I press the guide button on my controller

I have heard of more major issues that plague this game, most notably save-corruptions and modded weapons disappearing, but I have not run into any of these problems.

RE-PLAYABILITY: 9/10

I completed Dead Island in around 16 hours, and that's because I only did around 15 sidequests. If you complete all the sidequests in this game, expect at least 35 hours of gameplay. That's not even counting the new game+ mode, multiplayer, and the other characters you can play as. Counting all of that, it's easy to squeeze 100 hours worth of content out of this game.

The game is also extremely difficult. I died over 50 times throughout the game because I rushed directly into crowds of zombies. If you play this game strategically, you could find yourself dying not nearly as many times as me, though the game would still be rather difficult. Playing with friends drastically reduces the difficulty, which can make your trek throughout the island less rage-inducing.

OVERALL: 7/10

Dead Island is not a game for everyone. It's easy to get turned off by the lackluster story and appalling voice acting, but the gameplay is fast-paced, gory, and thrilling. This may not be the scariest zombie game, but it is one of the most enjoyable. It's definitely more enjoyable than Dead Rising and Left 4 Dead, to me at least. If you can find a copy of this at your local stores (since it is somewhat difficult to find for some odd reason) pick it up, or at the very least rent it or borrow it from a friend.

Pros:
- Satisfying and intense gameplay
- Extremely gory
- Great re-playability
- Tons of weapons
- Great multiplayer
- Can mod weapons

Cons:
- Boring story
- Glitches
- Bad voice acting
- No memorable music
- Poor animations
- No splitscreen


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 09/13/11

Game Release: Dead Island (US, 09/06/11)


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