Dead Island has been mesmerizing us with its fantastic CGI trailers and gameplay tidbits for the past few months now, but we here at Gameranx are fully prepared to give you the down low on just what is happening on the ‘Dead Island’ of Banoi. Read on to find out!
Story – What is Going On Here!?
Okay, so the first thing that needs to be established here is that this is a Zombie Action-RPG. Story is there, but it’s not necessarily extremely passionate or heavy; with that said, it gets the job done. The game starts off with you waking up after a hard night of partying, coming to find that the majority of Banoi’s populace has now turned into cannibalistic zombies – but really, what other kinds of zombies are there? – You’ll choose a character at the beginning of the game; each character has their own weapon specialty: sharp, throwing, blunt, and firearms.
You work your way across the island of Banoi, slaying undead horrors the whole way. You’ll come across various groups of people who ask for your help, as the group you are collaborating with is somehow immune to the virus and able to perform tasks that they cannot. Each group of people has their own intentions as to what they want to do; one wants to stay put and wait for help, one wants garner the means by which to escape. This leads into a huge time sink, and in my playthrough I felt the game was poking fun at me – there were quests named ‘Killing Time’ and such. Blizzard did this to me with World of Warcraft as well. Overall, Dead Island’s story does the zombie niche proud – even if not addressing the subgenres classic flaws.
Gameplay – Does it ‘Nail’ it?
Alright, this is really where I as a reviewer feel that the genre should be judged in majority on. The gameplay in Dead Island is pure, visceral, fun. With that said, it is not just another zombie-slayer. The combat is extremely refined and it actually addresses one of the biggest problems I have with video games nowadays in terms of realism. That’s the fact that you can slice or shoot somebody as much as you want, and they don’t even flinch. In Dead Island, the zombies’ bones can break and you even – with a bladed weapon – completely slice off limbs. This impairs zombies’ movement and makes their attacks far less effective.
With all that said, it does enhance every other area of zombie death. Namely the blood effects; you will slice a limb off and the blood will continue to spurt from both the hand and arm. Furthermore, your weapons can sustain durability damage. This can be a real problem when you start acquiring stronger weapons and are forced to repair them, but there is no greater feeling than breaking a boat paddle over a zombie’s face…Making the broken items worth the repair cost. You will frequently find yourself relating the game and how it plays to a certain Rapture on a certain ocean floor with certain robots patrolling its corridors.
Presentation and Graphics – Are Those Zombies Cute?
Minus the zombies, Banoi is the perfect display of beauty and extravagance. From postcard-like backdrops on the beach to the lush jungles, Banoi is absolutely gorgeous. You’ll find your jaw on the floor at some points, as the intricate amounts of detail on even a simple rock will astound. The contrast from resort to town to jungle only gives credence to the amount of thought that went into the game’s presentation and set pieces.
The game runs at a steady frame rate, except when loading in some areas; you may even encounter some rendering issues. When all is said and done though, the lag was minimal and the game’s graphics technically sound. I won’t go as far to say that this game is pushing any boundaries, but it definitely holds up to the industry standard put forth by franchises such as Gears of War and Uncharted – a huge compliment in and of itself.
Conclusion – An Experience Worth ‘Living’?
Ok, that was a bad joke…I’m sorry. If you have heard our podcast, you would know already that it runs in the family. In all seriousness though, Dead Island has managed to do what many zombie survival games have not – deliver a more ‘refined’ experience. Really, that is where the game’s strength lies. While the game’s focus still lies upon its gameplay, which offsets the story a bit – it is still the strongest zombie-killer ride I have been on…ever.