You Know, Dead Island Isn’t Too Bad

Dear Reader,

“Dead Island, “to me, has always been a sub-par game hiding behind an amazing ad campaign. But since “Resistance 3″ and “Deus Ex” did such a good job swaying me from indifference, I’ve been in a generous mood, so I decided to pick up Techland’s zombie shooter and try it out. The verdict? It’s nowhere near the kind of success story that “Human Revolution” is, but for the third time in the last few months, I’m willing to admit I judged too quickly. “Dead Island” is a fun game.

This really is “Fallout 3″ with zombies, and I admit that’s something new. The feel is pure RPG: open world, optional side quests, branching skill trees; all on a smaller scale, mind you, but smartly implemented. “Dead Island” is the truest simulator of living in a zombie apocalypse I’ve ever seen. “Left 4 Dead” mainlines panic and desperation into your veins in bursts, but there’s nothing coherent underneath it. “Dead Rising” is more persistent, but it’s cluttered with arcade-y tropes like boss fights and collection quests. “Dead Island,” to its credit, stakes a unique claim in this crowded market by rendering the moment-to-moment experience of zombie infestation with something approaching verisimilitude. Weapons break, fights overwhelm, resources dry up. The fun of the game is testing your ability to improvise, work with limited means, and get creative.

Massive kudos must also be dished out for the smoothly implemented co-op system. “Dead Island” quietly scans the interwebs as you play, and if it comes across another player who’s roughly in your same situation, it proposes a painless merging of your two games. Clearly, Techland has strong feelings about how their game is meant to be experienced.

Now with that said, let’s not kid ourselves: the game is rough around the edges. The graphics range from pretty decent to muddy as hell, the hit detection can be a little strange during melee combat, and the story full-on sucks. The game also gets off on an awkward foot and takes a few minutes to right itself. A masterpiece, this is not. But there’s a gooey center of real fun in “Dead Island,” and what really impresses me is that Techland managed to make a mark on the zombie genre that they can claim as their own. This is not the best zombie game ever made—that honor still goes to “Left 4 Dead”—but “Dead Island” has something real to offer. That alone is worth commending.


you girls sellin cookies? 

  • Mark Ross

    This game has fast become a favorite of mine. Sure, it’s got more bugs than a Florida bait shop, but the underlying fun is there. This is a company whose history mainly is comprised of bargain bin racing games (and Call of Juarez, inexplicably), and then they go and make themselves a AA game. That takes CHUTZPAH. Hella fun game. Find me on Xbox Live as RurouniQ and we’ll throw down.
    Oh, and I’d say it’s more akin to Borderlands than Fallout 3, with the different classes and skill trees.

    • Anonymous

      Only I’m allowed to play with Q.

  • Anonymous

    As Q stated, it honestly is more in line with Borderlands… a more melee-centric Borderlands with crappy hit detection (analog combat isn’t too accurate at times), lazy programming and physics (no mirrors, kicking through stuff, pop ins, zombies that go right through each other and remain unphased mid-animation if hit by a freakin sledgehammer…that kind of thing), uninspired items (the mods are where it’s at, of course, and saves that), an obscenely goofy and aggravating inventory system (disapparing items, alcohol/medkit autoequip…wtf?), and it showcases some completely useless and non-respecable skills (useless skills per se could be overlooked, but when you can’t go back and undo your choices…) and I could go on and on and on.  But it’s Borderlands-esque nevertheless.

    It is certainly fun though despite the many flaws, and could have been PURE WIN had it not been so obviously rushed, and that certainly shows in the pc version which is very consoley.  Not that I really have a problem with that as I play with a controller anyway, but I expected more from a “separately developed” pc version and I do feel for those who bought that hoping for a more finely tuned experience on that platform.

    In time, maybe Deep Silver will fix the issues as it’s sold a lot of copies and certainly deserves much attention.  Or, maybe they’ll just take the money and run.

    Who knows!

  • Anonymous

    Forgot to mention another glaring issue:  how hard is it to model some decent female faces?  They all look like 60 year old sailors wearing wigs, but mysteriously have the toned bodies of feminine 20-somethings!  Even some of the zombies look better.

    I know it’s all pixels anyway, but seriously…hopefully someone makes a “no-butterface” mod soon.

    • Andrew Allen

      I didn’t notice that until you just pointed it out, and now I’m terrified of every woman in the game. Damn it, Jaime.