Entertaining Peery: Dead Island (PC)

February 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

Hannibal Lector on steroids zombie...

Techland’s FPS/RPG survival horror game Dead Island is the open world, almost, MMO version of Left 4 Dead. However, there are major differences that make it an experience worth trying out.

First, this game is, oddly since it is FP viewpoint, primarily a melee combat game. Sure one of the avatars is a gun specialist, which I played through as, but guns are really absent until almost half way through the game and then ammo is very scarce until the last couple of levels. Also, guns are almost exclusively used by me to kill human enemies as they did not have the stopping power to put down the zombies until you can manage to modify the guns.

Which brings me to another difference from L4D: Dead Island has many, many weapons and weapon mod blueprints to find, do side-quests for, and ultimately scrounge parts to craft.

I also really liked the nice feature of driving vehicles to run over zombies. It is a really nice touch: GTA Zombie edition. The vehicles even have places to carry other players in co-op or to haul items around. I even loaded up a truck with propane canisters to bomb an especially hard to deal with zombie horde.

Even the mutated zombies, while drawing lineage from L4D, are freshly interesting. There is the obligatory exploding zombie and spitter (Though Dead Island’s Floater is way more gross/cool than acid reflux zombie,)  Rams (straight jacketed giants, that will run you down and stomp you.) There are regular “walkers,” fast moving “infected,” heavy hitting and extremely hard to kill Thugs, and then Undead Bruce Lees called “Butchers” who have martial-arts like skills, will duck your attacks and tear you a new one. I dealt with them largely by running them down with vehicles: they were that tough.

The story is pretty much what you’d expect from the genre. Survivors try to evacuate and help other survivors while being guided by a mysterious puppet master issuing objectives for the player. The quests and side quests kept me engaged and I especially liked/found useful the Russian Drunk-Ass Girl who will buy champagne off you with diamonds, CHA-CHING. I made the trip out to her bungalow many a time.

Another feature I toggled to play with was the “keep zombies the same level as you” option, which I think was designed to make the game harder. I thought the game was just right with it selected. Even returning to areas you explored were kept fresh with harder zombies.

The world building was well done with only the jungle areas feeling a bit contrived and restricted. The slums were terrifying, maze-like warrens that used all three dimensions and rooftops were islands in a zombie ocean. Too bad there were humans up there that didn’t like me on their turf. It ended badly for them. Also, those goddamn Infected can climb, so I had to listen for their tell-tale wails.

My gripes about the game include:

  • Dialog that begins the game is written as if you are alone, shifts to dialog written as if I am there with all the other toons.
  • Characters not being played still show up in the cut scenes, but aren’t bots during gameplay at least like L4D.
  • The game does a bad job of tying up the loose ends of the survivors you did so much to help.
  • You trade one bad-guy for another as your puppet master with no choice/input.
  • Weirdness in the loot drops on containers. I.E. sometimes the game gets “stuck” and you get the same item over and over from containers, and I am not talking about computer case drops, which are consistent.

Overall, I appreciated the game and will probably play through as another toon, the DLC, and try out co-op, too. It is rumored that a sequel or possible MMO version is in the works with the domain “Dead World” being reserved by the developers. I will be on the watch for this as a Zombie Survival MMO will be good times.

Reviewed by Josh Peery

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