Product Type: Deepsilver Xbox 360 games
Newest Review: ... the trailer highlighter, it was more of a sex, drugs and awful rap disco. Regardless, it sets the scene plus I really like the barron menu ... more
This Hell sure looks a lot like Paradise...
Dead Island (Xbox 360)
Member Name: kojak123
Dead Island (Xbox 360)
Advantages: Good story, great graphics, easy to play.
Disadvantages: A little repetitive, not what we were promised by the teasers!
I first bought this game not long after release at the back end of September 2011. At the time I thought it was a rather engaging open world first-person adventure game, but found that something just didn't seem to gel properly.
It wasn't that anything was wrong with the game - in fact it was one of the better releases of 2011, with beautiful visuals provided by the Chrome 5 graphic engine (a-la 'Call of Juarez'), easy to learn controls giving 'pick up and play' appeal and a great story mode allowing us to explore the enormous island.
The problem, I suppose, was the hype.
Five Years in the Making;
In 2006, software house Techland announced a new game to the eager crowd of gamers and journalists at the E3 gaming convention.
With a working title of 'Island of the Living Dead' this was to be a new chapter in survival horror and an entirely new gaming experience. As the working title suggests, the premise behind the game was the George Romero inspired zombie world, with us being plunged head first into a zombie apocalypse on a small and secluded island paradise.
4 years of development later, they released a CGI trailer which is probably one of the best in gaming history, up there with the first Gears of War.
A young girl is bitten by a zombie then rescued by her parents who barricade themselves in their hotel room. As the undead fight to get in, the girl suddenly becomes an uncontrollable savage, latching herself onto her fathers back and biting him too. As the zombies break through the door to the room, the girls father hurls her through the glass window to the ground below as the monsters get the better of him and his wife.
The whole scene is played in reverse and in slow motion, with haunting cello music playing over the top, so the violent start of death and disease destroying the family gives way to hope as wee see them try vainly to survive.
It ends with a short montage of their earlier holiday video, enjoying the sights and enjoying their little slice of paradise.
After leaving us with that trailer and no actual game play footage, the magazines and gamer blogs went into overdrive with anticipation of what the game would deliver! Pre-orders went nuts, pushing the game up the charts before a release date was even scheduled!
On release, the game met a lukewarm response from critics, most of whom rated it in the 70%-80% area as it turned out not to be a mould breaking genre crossing masterpiece, but just another survival game - albeit a very accomplished one.
I think that's the reason it got a bit of a poor reception - it promised the world and couldn't quite deliver, as has happened a thousand times over and will no doubt happen a thousand more.
Dead Island is a bit like the Borderlands games, only a little more sedate. The game engine was used previously in Call Of Juarez, so there is your basic graphic system (the Chrome 5) and the levelling up, using skill points to mould your characters skills stuff is very much like the Fallout series of games.
Of course, the games most will compare it to are the Resident Evil ones, particularly 4, 5 and 6 where the full open world 3D environment comes into play. Sadly it's not really comparable though, with zombies being the only real crossover.
All is well on the island of Banoi, off the coast of Papua New Guinea. It's a thriving luxury holiday resort with a stunning beachfront, small town and lush jungle.
Sadly, an infection is about to turn 90% of the islands population into bloodthirsty rampaging monsters with their first instinct to find and eat YOU!
You choose one of 4 characters, each with slightly different skill-set (one is a bruiser with extra strength, another is more agile etc) but all with very similar core attributes. The game then opens to a 4-5 minute intro with a cool song (Who Do You Voodoo) playing as we see through the eyes of a drunk guy walking through the resort and to a nightclub where he is kicked out and escorted back to his room. We then take control as 'our' character regains conscious in their hotel room and has to escape to a safe-house with some other survivors. On the way there, our character is attacked and proven to have some sort of resistance to the zombies bites (we can be killed, just not turned into a walking-dead).
Once we reach the safe house the missions begin, and we start to explore the island scavenging, assisting other survivors and completing missions.
The first section is the resort itself. The lighthouse and the lifeguard station are the two main destinations, each with a band of survivors inside and mini-missions on offer, but we are free to roam the beach, the coves and all of the guest areas (bars, chalets, pools) along the front.
The second section is the town. Moresby is in ruin - buildings destroyed and the living dead everywhere! Coupled with this, the small gangs of street thugs have taken the opportunity to loot and vandalise the town, taking control of the police station and acting as aggressively towards strangers as the zombie menace.
Finally, we head to the jungle where a prison and a biological research facility provide us the opportunity to look for a cure to the outbreak and look for other survivors.
This game never seems easy. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing either.
At the very beginning, we're a level 1 rookie player and the baddies are suitably easy to kill. There are lots of them though! Not only that, they seem to attack in groups making our meagre health bar drop quicker than seems fair.
That's all well and good, if we persevere then surely these groups of creatures will become quick and easy to slice through, right?
Well no, actually.
Every time WE level up, THEY level up too, so once you become a level 10 player you only encounter level 10 enemies which is a bit unfair - it doesn't give us much respite or a chance to earn any easy XP (experience points).
The resort is quite easy after a few missions though as we have access to vehicles. It's not often we need to get out and battle a mob of zombies when you can drive straight through them.
The town and jungle levels, although there are still vehicles around, are a serious challenge! Unless you can find a route using ladders, it's unlikely you'll be able to get around without losing a few lives.
Luckily, every time you 'die', you re-spawn at the same spot (or at least very close by) just with a slight dent in your wallet, as it takes a slice of your cash.
Health pick-ups are easy to come by in the form of cans of energy drink or snack bars. Sadly they need to be used immediately as you find them and can't be taken with you for a rainy day - only health packs can be carried and they are as hard to find as hens teeth!
The challenge is heightened by adding new enemies to defeat. Early on there are a great number of low AI zombies and not much else, but as the game progresses all manner of baddies spring up!
Walker: Slow and stupid zombie, no AI to speak of and will give up the chase quite easily. Not tough to kill and won't put up much of a fight when attacked.
Infected: Not quite human but not quite a full-on zombie. These creatures are much closer to the '28 days later' zombies in that they are fast, powerful and relentless. Usually announcing themselves with a blood curdling scream giving you a few seconds warning! Not too tough to kill but will defend themselves against attack and often carry weapons of their own.
THUG: As it sounds, a huge brute of a zombie. Slow and easy to sneak up on, but with a devastatingly powerful punch or kick which will knock half a players energy bar off in one go! These Thugs can be heard from a good distance as they let out a ground shaking guttoral roar when a player gets close.
Suicider: A large bloated zombie which will explode (voluntarily) when nearby to kill anything in its immediate area. Impossible to kill hand-to-hand but easy enough with a ranged weapon.
Bloater: A bloated zombie which spits an acid like substance. Again, not easy to face close-range!
Butcher: A terrifying powerful monster with no hands which attacks with the sharp ends of the bones of its forearms. Awful looking, incredibly tough to kill and one to be avoided frankly!
Ram: An escapee of the prison, this enemy is an enormous and fast zombie in a straight-jacket which attacks using a super powerful headbutt or an equally powerful kick. Tough to kill as it is invulnerable from the front, meaning it needs to be snuck up on and attacked from behind!
There are also various street thugs and soldiers to tackle in the later levels, as well as hidden enemies such as 'Jason', a character based on the horror movie character from Friday the 13th. Avoid him if possible, I've never managed to beat him yet!
Even up the odds;
As you'd expect, weapons are plentiful - thankfully!
90% of the weapons are hand-to-hand things such as shovels and axes, but later on there are guns (but very little ammo!).
All weapons can be maintained and upgraded using craft benches; a necessity since they degrade at an alarming rate. Low durability means that most of your money will end up spent on repairing tools and weapons in order to keep them effective.
Blueprints are available to craft special pieces providing you can find the components hidden about the game, and unique weapons are scattered around the place as well (often as gifts for completing missions).
Bare fists and kicks have some effect, but frankly you don't want to be caught without something big and pointy when up against some of this lot! Luckily you can carry up to 16 items in your inventory.
As mentioned, vehicles are dotted about the place amongst the burnt out wrecks. The handling is atrocious, and there is only one camera view available which makes it tough to control, but they are there and it makes getting from A to B a lot quicker and a lot safer.
It's done very well I think, with the little chalet resorts and beach impossible to get to with a vehicle but essential to explore, meaning you have no choice but to take to your feet despite feeling nice and safe in the cab of a big 4x4!
Running over zombies is a breeze, and it's a nice easy way to rack up XP just driving around squashing the undead!
I bought this game on release, and like the reviewers I was a bit put out with the whole package after the promises that had been made and the hype surrounding the game.
This week, with the sequel (Dead Island; Riptide) around the corner and a ten pound note burning a hole in my pocket I picked up a second hand copy to re acquaint myself with it.
I was blown away!
Whether it was the disappointment blurring my reckoning the first time round I'm not sure, but the whole package just seemed somehow better.
The visuals are gorgeous! Despite the zombie kill-fest going on I found myself wanting to be there, to experience the sights, sounds and smells of fictional Banoi for myself, in fact at times I felt like I WAS there.
The rendering is just great too, and unlike Fallout New Vegas, the scenery loads 99% of the time with no lag and none of the blocky/clunky graphic disturbance.
The sounds are, well, terrifying - but in a good way! The howls of victims, the screech of the infected hoards and the groans of the zombie mass lift us out of the seat and place us right in the middle of this hell-in-paradise.
I think that's the key to a good game actually, and it's in evidence here. We allow ourselves to become the character and put ourself in their shoes, so that every zombie bite becomes an injury inflicted on US, not the pile of pixels on a TV screen.
A couple of years ago I'd have hopped on the critical bandwagon and rated this maybe 3 out of 5. Now the hype has died down though, I appreciate this game for what it is rather than what we were promised it was going to be and it's a solid 4/5.
Easy to pick up gameplay, longevity and a beautiful backdrop make this a game I'll keep coming back to, and for those who let this pass them by I suggest my fellow gamers pick up a copy and sample the same delights I have!
It's cheap and fun, easily worth the £10 asking price (in fact, the Game Of The Year edition with lots of add-ons and downloadables is only £14-£15) so give it a bash if you get chance.
Single player mode carries maybe 30 hours gameplay with the potential for double that and more in side-missions.
I haven't played co-op (multiplayer) so can't comment, but it has had great write ups and looks a blast with a friend or 4. If I get my x-box live connected I may update this!
Note - the game is rated 18 and for good reason! Even the trailer for it was a post-watershed only affair.
This game contains blood, guts, gore, shocks and foul language by the bucketload - please use some caution and take note of the rating!
Summary: Good adult fun wrapped up in a zombie apocalypse!