Review by innuendo81
"Dead Island - Totally Banoiying"
After trying to muddle through this alleged "action RPG" for two days, I had to finally bite the bullet, take it out of my system and turn it in. This is not a game for "casual" gamers...those of us who like to enjoy a game for its design, unique art style, or story for a few hours without having to address strategy or difficulty. Unfortunately, Dead Island fails to deliver, even after trying to read hints, FAQs and guides. Also, this game is meant for a multiplayer experience, as in single player mode, you are left underpowered.
It's made apparent in the first few hours of gameplay that this is a game that you are meant to die in, repeatedly. As one of four playable characters (though really only one of them is a viable choice for a casual single player), you take to the gorgeous "dead island" of Banoi, that has inexplicably been hit with a virus that turns most of its inhabitants and tourists into the undead. You are one of the only people unaffected, and therefore, capable of beating the zombies with whatever random blunt or sharp objects you can scavenge.
All of this is well and good except for several fatal execution flaws. First, there is a system of leveling that makes next to no sense...as the zombies level up with you, the moves you have used previously take annoying long to kill the zombie or become ineffective. Example: At level one, you'd kick the zombie down and then keep kicking until it's dead. At level ten, the zombie literally takes 20 or more kicks to kill. Why? Has something changed about the nature of the zombies that makes their skulls more resistant to my boot? It makes no sense. And if I'm leveling up at the "same pace," shouldn't my boot kill the zombie just the same as it did nine levels ago? Annoying (or should I say, Banoiying?).
There're also skill trees, which are poorly implemented. One tree gives you "utility" skills such as extra inventory slots or lockpicking skills, but you cannot progress up the skill tree until you have maxed out a skill at level three. What if I don't need a level three lockpicking skill and I just want one of skills up the tree? Well, can't get that skill for three levels, and you're stuck maximizing a skill unnecessarily. This means I have to neglect other skill trees for the character's combat and special moves. Annoying.
Also, the weapons in the game all "wear down." Fine, I can deal with it, but this means I have to constantly repair, replace, upgrade, etc, the various weapons in my arsenal, as well as making my character's kicking maneuver be the weapon of choice. Sheesh, why would I want to play a game where I go around KICKING zombies? Annoying. The easy answer was, after about 10 missions, I didn't. Especially when I came upon a mission where there were not one, not two, but three large, unkickable "Thug" zombies that killed me several times in a row. I slowly put my controller down, took Dead Island out of the XBox, and returned it. I just didn't care if and how those survivors got off the island of Banoi.
This game could seriously use an "easy" mode for people who just want to have some fun without the need for annoying battle strategies, wearing down weapons, and upgrading of useless skills.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 09/27/11
Game Release: Dead Island (US, 09/06/11)
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