The lights are on
It's no secret that gamers love zombies. We love fighting them, killing them, and being them. I got excited when I saw that I could kill these zombies and level up to kill them in different ways, all in an open world. To most gamers, that sounds amazing, and that's the idea of Dead Island, an idea that didn't come around as well in the final product.
The main issue with this game is its gameplay. Dead Island is a first-person game where you mainly use varied melee weapons to kill zombies. These weapons break after too many zombies have seen the end of them unless you can repair the weapon. You can also upgrade weapons to become more powerful, and you get XP for every kill so you can get better at killing. Later on, you'll get guns to use, fight more powerful zombies, and fight humans. You can also drive vehicles around the huge, beautiful game world, allowing you to run over zombies in a big, gory mess. If you're like me, then as you're reading this, you're getting steadily more excited. Slaying zombies in all these ways on a huge, gorgeous island? Heck yeah, I'm in! The problem with this, however, is not the presentation but the execution. For one, weapons break way to easily and the zombies take a lot to be killed. That adds up to roughly four, maybe five zombies before you're looking for a new weapon. This is a real problem at the beginning of the game because you can't repair weapons yet. Even when you can, you have to go all the way back to your safehouse, and you can't really use the weapon to fight if you want to keep it. Along with this, you will be dealing with this problem until you get guns. Guns are useful and powerful, but ammo is very few and very far between. Either way, you'll have to save them for fights with humans, who also have guns. With very few opportunities to upgrade weapons, it also becomes a bigger problem when the zombies level up as you do. That means that weapons break more easily on tougher zombies. Vehicles, however, can be valuable weapons. They're fun to drive around for a while, and they're a heck of a lot better than walking. There is also a vehicle waiting for you every time you go to the safehouse. One thing that really bummed me out, too, was that you can't fast travel. This island is huge, and you're either going to walk through tons of zombies or run them over to get to your destination, making driving repeptitive.
The story...well there isn't much of one. You get to play as one of a few characters, different based on their tactics and strengths. The opening cinematic seems serious, but the story from there takes a turn for the worse. You start out in a skyscraper hotel as the outbreak starts. You escape to see that the entire island is overrun by zombies. You meet a few characters and get started trying to escape. That would be fine if the voice acting and dialogue didn't suck. Some characters are so bad that they're downright annoying. You would think that the word "zombie" gives enough motivation to mindlessly kill zombies, but some of the missions left me wondering why I had put my character's life on the line. Without a structured story (or lack thereof), the game came out as more of a disappointment.
The graphics, in one word, are fantastic. This bloody paradise is beautiful, and with a better gameplay and story, I might've explored it top to bottom and everywhere in-between. But here is another problem with the game's execution. With these problems, I had no feeling of exploration in me, and I didn't enjoy seeing what I did in it. Exploration seemed more like a chore that I didn't want to have any part of.
The game sounds great, from the screams of insane zombies to the nice splatter of blood with a nicely placed smack in the head with a crowbar. The vehicles and guns sound good, too, but again, the problem lies with the NPC's. Their accents sound almost offensive, and with the bad dialogue, I don't care about what comes out of their mouths anyway.
This is another game where I thought of what the developer and publisher were thinking. Every idea in this game sounded good, sounded like exactly what every sadistic, zombie-loving gamer would die for. Instead, a few mistakes held this game from being a hit. Who knows? Maybe Riptide will fix these mistakes and make Dead Island the zombie game we all wanted.
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