Welcome to Banoi! The tropical island holiday destination for the rich and famous! With sparkling blue seas, luxurious beach resort and hotel and…oh dear I think I just saw a bunch of zombies by the beach bar. Is it too late to get a plane reservation off the island?
Say hello to Dead Island where we have zombies in abundance. Before you get too excited, it is not a survival horror game, it is not a first person shooter and despite whatever impression you got from the trailer it is not an emotional rollercoaster either. Nope, Dead Island is an open-world, action zombie game that favours you getting down and dirty with melee combat. Which is odd when I think about it now considering there is one hero who specializes guns and another who specializes throwing weapons.
You first start inside the hotel before going outside, exploring the beach resorts eventually heading towards the city and jungles. For an island, it certainly has a lot of environments for you to explore which was actually quite fun for me. Well, my exploration mainly consisted of looking for weapon chests, completing side missions and looking for workbench/vendors.
It has a rather RPG-like nature since you are given quests from other survivors who are spread out over the ‘main’ shelters that act as a hub of sorts. There is also skill-trees, levels and experience points, weapon stats and damage. The usual stuff, you know? Each hero has three skill trees which focuses on fury (the hero’s special skill/attack), survival and combat. Each of the trees are similar but also have the hero’s specific skills. Sam B’s skill trees for example focus on his durability as he is the ‘tank’ class from the four heroes, prolonging his fury attack (which I never used because I kept forgetting about it) and his blunt weapons skills. He also has a skill that if invested in will basically make zombies pay more attention to him. Thus allowing your fellow survivors have a higher chance of surviving but at the gamble of you potentially dying since all the zombies now want a piece of you.
Dead Island also makes the game feel rather easy since if you do die, you are spawned relatively near to where you died. You of course pay a penalty for dying, similar to Borderlands where it takes a percentage of your cash. However you regain the money you lost rather quickly from doing quests and scavenging around.
The game heavily focuses on melee combat so do not be surprised at the vast quantities of melee weapons that can be found/bought. That is not including the possibilities of modified weapons you can create as well. The game allows four-player cooperative gameplay which I highly recommend as the game is actually best played and enjoyed as a cooperative game. I actually played majority of this game with a friend, originally it was three of us but one of them had to stop after the fourth chapter due to her own studies. Afterwards it was just the two of us who played it when we had the time, which was usually meant Friday nights and some Saturdays till school was officially over for the both of us.
The game does have some drawbacks but it is not very major. Some of the drawbacks include the feature of online game-play where the game will suddenly stutter at some points, giving you the impression the game has crashed. It is a constant thing so we just got used to it, although it has caused several car crashes and deaths. The visual quality is uneven at times as well, the voice acting…less the said the better. The characters and story are weak at best, but since we were more interested in the game-play itself than the story, it was easily overlooked.
Combat which should be one of the strongest points, is not sadly. If you are talking about melee combat, then the game excels in it. In Act 2 however, it starts throwing in human enemies with guns that you cannot attack using melee as it guaranteed death over half the time. Or at least you take severe damage. The best (and only) way to take care of those enemies efficiently was to use a gun yourself and try to take them out quickly with head shots. Something that I had become rather proficient at due to necessity. The human enemies proved to have some intelligence as they would take cover if they took damage or if they needed to reload their guns. It was the main difference between them and zombies.
However, there is an odd sense of pride as you maim the hordes of undead. Watching their heads and limbs fly as you cut them off with your bladed weapons, the crunch as you smash it in with blunt weapons and much more.
However using melee weapons means your weapons take damage over time, once it reaches past 50% it loses a lot of damage per hit and becomes exceedingly expensive to repair. So it was easier to carry several weapons at once and swap them once your weapons hit at about 60% durability. Afterwards, it became praying that you would find a repair workbench or a safe hub soon to repair your melee weapons.
Speaking of guns, while there are guns in the game…they appear rather late in-game. Even then ammo is rather scarce in the game so it is more economical to use melee weapons and saving the firearms for the enemies that had firearms as well. I think I only use one firearm throughout the entire game: a heavy magnum pistol since pistols could carry fifty bullets, and it had heavier damage compared to the other firearms I had found throughout the game. I only needed the magnum pistol to take care of the armed enemies. I think I did try a modified shotgun I had in the last chapter of the game. It did not do much damage overall, but if it got a critical…it was amazing. Not to mention the shooter aspect of the game is not spectacular since the game heavily focuses on melee.
Mentioning the second act reminded me of something: it had a large amount of quests that took place in the sewers which quickly became a place I hated. It most consisted of you covering vast distances as you went from point A to B, then do the same on the return trip back.
As I mentioned what my exploration was about, it is actually what most players would be doing. Going from hub to hub to collect quests or buy items from the traders there, running around the island to collect the resources to build the weapons you want or completing missions. Most of the combat with the dead can be avoided by running around them. Theoretically you were supposed to be able to use meat bait to draw them to a place of your choosing, I tried it but it did not work out too well sadly. Alternatively, instead of running around the island you could just use one of the many trucks in the game and run them over. It sure beats walking, and gets you from place to place a lot quicker than travelling on foot.
Some of the special undead you meet in the game reminded me of the special infected from left 4 Dead. We had a Ram which reminded me of a Charger and a Bloater which was like combination of a Boomer/Spitter. Only difference was that the Bloater’s spit did not summon a zombie horde and its spit ball was flammable instead of acidic. Thankfully there were no variations of the dreaded Tank and Witch.
Sadly the game loses a lot of its momentum as it gets further into the story. I think the game was strongest in the beginning and weakest at its end. It also leaves a lot of unanswered questions such as what happened to the other survivors at the hubs, especially the two main hubs in the resort area who were trying to seek rescue as well. The game had a weird glitch where the quest givers could be talking halfway then suddenly they stopped talking. We never figured out if it was because one of us pressed a key by accident, or what happened to make them stop talking so suddenly. We lost a lot of the dialogue that was supposed to tell us what we needed to do for a quest.
Oh and the boss fight was hilarious. We were expecting a major and difficult boss fight since it was the finale, yet all it took was one swing from my Tesla modified Gabriel’s sledgehammer. It was a critical hit and he died instantly. It was a very anti-climactic boss fight in the end. Even more so considering how much drama we had to go through to reach the helipad. We had to cut through waves of infected corridors in the hospital section which we ended up just running through in the end…fighting a bunch of armed soldiers while the boss took pot shots at us from his safe spot and then he died in one hit.
That’s just how I roll.
You mad Redfield? *troll grin* But you did kill me with that grenade that YOU never warned me about till it literally exploded at my feet. Ruined my epic badass moment of killing the final boss with a single critical hit with my telsa sledgehammer *sulks*