Admit it, at some point in your life you have dreamed of being involved in a zombie apocalypse. Something to get your blood flowing, adrenaline pumping and heart racing as you go around pounding the zombies to a pulp with your bare fists or any improvised weapons that you can lay your grimy paws on. Dead Island allows you to do just that. A no-nonsense zombie basher RPG, this game is a nice change from the hard hitting, gritty games currently available in the market. B grade horror movie fans are in for a treat, movies like Dawn of the Dead engender a weird fascination, and there is just something in the ridiculous nature of those movies that pique our interest, make us want to watch them. In the course of the movie, all that corny voice acting, the screaming and shrieking, the insanely gruesome and bloody fighting scenes, all seem par for the course.
This is true for Deal Island as well; the story and fighting play out very much like the aforementioned movies but seem very natural and integral to the experience. The landscape is a lush and beautiful holiday destination but one that is eerily silent at the same time, giving a true sense of calamity and a sense of being alone in a very hostile world. Zombies are plentiful, but so are the weapons. You can use anything from blocks of wood to crowbars and sickles to dismember and behead the zombies that are desperately trying to make a meal of you.
You’re on an island on a vacation; suddenly people are turning into zombies. You are immune and can save the world, so to speak. You start off by choosing one of four characters specializing in blunt, sharp, throwing and ranged weapons. Each character will have certain advantages as well as disadvantages regarding speed, stamina and so on. You gain XP points as you progress, killing zombies and completing tasks, not to mention bonus points for critical hits and bone breakages. These points can then be invested in a tech tree to develop your character in true RPG style. Unfortunately, the character development isn’t too deep and there aren’t many differences among the four characters.
As mentioned earlier, you are immune to the zombie disease. Because of this, you, and three other friends of yours if you’re playing co-op, are sent out to perform various tasks ‘essential’ for survival. The tasks range from rescuing certain people to finding miscellaneous odds and ends to assist in your escape and finding medical and food supplies, etc. the odd thing here is that despite there being piles of supplies all over the place, you still have to go to specific locations and pick exactly those piles of supplies up that are marked for retrieval. More than a little lame, in our opinion, The island is quite large, requiring alternate modes of transport, this is where the vehicles come in. the vehicle handling is a bit hit and miss, but overall, it is fun to go around ploughing through masses of zombies as they stumble about minding their own business and chewing on the guts of their fallen comrades.
All is not well in the game though; there are a lot of bugs and clipping issues. Sometimes certain mission objectives are not achieved simply because something arbitrary hasn’t been triggered. This can get very frustrating in certain missions as you literally run back and forth trying to figure out what you missed. The weapons in the game are very interesting and satisfying to use. They can be modified on a workbench using various blueprints that you get your hands on. While this is a lot of fun, the weapons degrade as you use them. This would normally not be a problem, but when your weapon can barely survive cleaving through half a dozen zombies or so, it’s not really that much fun anymore.
All said and done, Dead Island is a surprisingly good game. It borrows a lot of elements from games like Left 4 Dead and Dead Rising, but still provides a unique experience, there are a few flaws, but the first time you get punched in the face by a level 7 thug and go flying into the air to land on your back, all will be forgiven as you pick yourself up from the dirt, grab a nearby shovel, and proceed to show that zombie what life is all about.