by Jeff Gates
reviewed on X360
The Nuts and Brains (cntd)
With a large portion of the main quest finished, the island's map started feeling small. After five hours or so, I began wondering where the rest of it was and was treated to an experience similar to Grand Theft Auto: over the course of the story, more parts of the map were revealed. Dead Island features some of the ugliest creatures ever to grace a game, but they're rendered very prettily. The game's graphics are easily among the top of today's games and perhaps the strong visuals came at the cost of shrinking the map size. It could be argued that Dead Island's great looks go a long way towards its overall appeal as the rest of the game lacks originality. Dead Island takes elements - great elements - from other recent titles and puts them rather neatly into an attractive package. To cement its greatness, the game sports a story straight off the big screen.
A Winning Formul-ARGH!
Dead Island is an open-world game that is packed with as many quests as a fully-fledged RPG. From the start, Dead Island delivers a rich story with set-pieces laid out like the best linear blockbuster hits. Whether it is escaping the zombie filled hotel at the start of the game or tracking down the wreckage of a 747 commercial airliner, this title has what it takes to keep you playing. The quests range from finding bottles of liquor for the surviving alcoholics to putting the island back on the grid and uncovering what caused this seemingly apocalyptic event. There are big quests, small quests, recurring quests and open-ended quests. Some will help you level up, others will get you new gear and a few will even save some folks. This is as close to an RPG that a non-RPG can get.
Beat ‘Em Up
Dead Island seems to have more weapons than anyone could count. There are knives, crowbars, cleavers, bats, sticks and paddles scattered everywhere, each with varying traits. There some weapons that you can combine with random items such as deodorant and duct tape to make even better weapons. Don’t ask me what deodorant can do, just trust me it’s cool. Each weapon is easily damaged, however. The wood will split and the knives will rust and crack requiring you to find a workbench to fix them. Unfortunately the weapons are a little too weak. More often than not it’s easier and even cheaper to buy new weapons or find some rather than repairing yours. Thankfully if you find a weapon you like, upgrading it can improve the weapons durability dramatically. Still though, it seems like the idea is to constantly be recycling inventory.
The focus in Dead Island lies on melee weapons as guns are hard to come by. When you do find a gun it’s best to save it for the special zombies that require more than a smack in the face and a kick in the junk to kill. The special zombies are the real pains in the ass and unless you can track down a propane tank to blow up next to them, these guys require strategy to knock down. One of the specials, the Thug, swings his arms around, throwing your character back at great cost to your health. The strategy here is to chop off his arms or simply break them. If that doesn’t work you could use Rage, a mechanism that triggers your protagonists’ trait. Logan, for instance, started hurling knives at him like a mad man while I was pounding the right trigger like it was the zombie itself.
Few co-op games have a single player experience that can match the team play, but this is close. Fighting back the hordes with strategy and Rage is nearly as fun as buddying up and gang-kicking every zombie like a pack of mad soccer players. Just the fun of killing zombies in a beautifully rendered world would have made this game good, but Dead Island goes beyond that. It adds skill trees, a strong story and more quests to complete than there are palm trees on Banoi. Dead Island has something for everyone. If you just like free-roaming and murdering to your heart’s desire, you can. If you just want to collect everything this pretty world has to offer, you can. If a massive full-bodied story-packed action-laden co-op experience is what you seek, Dead Island has got it, and then some.
Great often strategic gameplay, easy-access co-op, fun story, tons of quests, good visuals.
Might be too difficult for some, feels wonky.