I love zombie games, movies, shows, and literature. I really do. Me and my friends would go around the worlds and courses of Left 4 Dead for hours, blowing the heads off of countless zombie hordes, and then becoming the infected to punch people off of tall buildings to watch them plummet to their death. So once I heard that there was going to be an open world zombie game that takes place on a tropical paradise, where friends can jump in and out whenever they please, I was in. So as an early Christmas present to myself, I bought Dead Island. But what did I get?
Fetch quests. An ungodly amount of fetch quests.
You play as one of four characters: Logan, who is the “good at everything” character, Purna, the alpha-male female character, Sam B, the gangster rapper, and Xian Mei, the stereotypical Asian character. Each one of them (besides Logan) has a specialty, Purna likes the guns, Sam B is the blunt weapons guy, and Xian Mei likes cutting people with the sharp weapons. They all have their special abilities as well, including one that is described in the manual as “calling on all her martial arts training (can you take a guess as to whose that is?). Each of these characters shares the same storyline – waking up alone and finding that the island is now overrun with a zombie plague. For some reason unspecified, you are immune to the disease that is infecting the entire resort, and you (and apparently your band of uninfected friends) must find out what is happening to everybody.
That is what you are SUPPOSED to be doing, but instead, you are doing small tasks to help out everyone that you come across. This ranges from delivering endless amounts of food and champagne to random people, rescuing random civilians from their utter demise, and getting random items that people want for comfort during the zombie apocalypse. These missions range from easy to very hard; easy being just a couple of zombies here and there, and very hard being claustrophobic and immensely difficult. You have your very first very hard mission as one of the first in the game, which armed me with a broken pole and a piece of floor board.
Those very hard missions – and the whole game as a matter of fact – is so much better when you are playing with friends. Friends bring much needed teamwork, and more importantly, they bring weapons.. The weapons that you have are, at best, flimsy. Even at higher levels, most only last about five zombies before “breaking.” Then there are the guns (that takes a bit of time in the game to actually obtain). The ammunition, unlike Left 4 Dead, is hard to obtain and incredibly sparse. Each gun I found had one bullet in it, and having it in my inventory only kept up space in my slim inventory. Each weapon you obtain can be upgraded with elemental items (or nails), which doesn’t affect the zombies as much as you would think they would. The only element that I have found to work is fire, but with the limited ammunition that the game gives you, I’d rather just bash the zombies brains in with an electrified machete.
The best part about the game is the senseless killing of the infected inhabitants of the island. The slow motion points in combat where you can break their bones and decapitate the zombies is incredibly satisfying, and is what keeps me playing this game. The graphics are beautiful, though suffers from lagging from time to time when people jump into your game.
Which leads me to that aspect of the game. At any time, if there’s another player who is close to you, the game will ask if you would like to join their game. Whether you say yes or no, the other player will get the same prompt, and can join you in an instant. The connections are usually reliable (when you get up to four players, it gets a bit laggy), but the people who would join up are up in the air. Either they will ignore the whole “team” aspect to the game and do their own thing, or they will sabotage your game. For example, my first encounter was with a higher level player, who found the best way to solve my current predicament of mass zombie murder was to blow up some propane tanks that just so happened to be in close proximity. My death pushed me back to the last save point in that mission, and he just dropped out.
The game isn’t bad, but it does get incredibly repetitive. Some characters who ask for food or water will continue to ask you for it, which gives you limited reward for finding it. One character keeps asking for alcohol to make me some Molotov cocktails, and for some reason, he has yet to make me one.
For anyone who likes Fallout and zombies, then by all means, this is the game for you. However, if you get bored easily with meaningless tasks and really little payoff, then this is a decent rent. There are a lot of flaws to the game, but it happens to be a rather exciting IP from time to time. If Deep Silver can expand on this template, and maybe take out some obnoxious tasks that you have to do, I wouldn’t mind a sequel. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Also, they are thinking about making a movie out of this game. What are you going to do, roam around an island, killing zombies, and delivering alcohol to some incredibly drunk girl? That doesn’t sound like a good movie at all.
Final Grade: C