As a fan of first person shooters, RPGs, and zombies I was really excited when Dead Island fell into my hands. Truth be told, I knew very little about the game before it hit shelves, but all of a sudden Dead Island was popping up everywhere with amazing reviews and gamer friends who said I absolutely had to play it. So the hype was massive as I sat down to lend a firsthand account of the awesomeness that is Dead Island. Well, I got about :18 seconds into the opening scene and realized there is no way I can give an objective review of this game. Considering the very first word out of the gate was the “F” word - and no it wasn’t “fantastic” - followed by more random cursing, screaming Gods name in vain, and “dancers” clubbing, I thought there is no way I can even tell my friends I played this much less write about it. Then I remembered my job is to do just that. I really wrestled with this. With that in mind, here are my thoughts on Dead Island for the Xbox 360.
Dead Island is a blend of Fallout 3, Left 4 Dead, and Borderlands all rolled into one bloody package. It is a first person shooter, an RPG and has the makings for hours of online multiplayer. The story is your typical zombie adventure. You begin on an island resort where a zombie outbreak takes place. Your character is somehow immune to the infection, so you are the lone, brave person who is placed in charge of taking care of everyone’s tasks i.e. “quests”. I did enjoy the XP/leveling aspect of the game. You get XP for kills, chopping off limbs, and completing quests. Quests vary in difficulty from very easy to very hard. You receive XP and rewards for turning them in, and I found myself really enjoying questing. The tasks aren’t as repetitive as an MMORPG, and some of the rewards are amazing. One such reward is “plans”. Dead Island has a system where you can create things, so as you are out in the world you pick up items like duct tape or wire and use them to create new weapons. So far I have created a baseball bat with saw blades on the end, a molotov, a bomb made from duct tape, and deodorant (who knew). Much like a traditional RPG when you level you get a talent point that you can spend on one of three “talent trees”. You may choose to begin with one of four different characters who tote a set of skills designed specifically for each. I choose the guns expert seeing as guns tend to do the most damage to the undead…so I’ve heard. What I didn’t think about is where I will find bullets on a beach resort. I’ve found one so far. Seriously; a bullet. The voice acting is so-so and I often found myself reading the subtitles faster and pressing B to fast-forward to the action. Graphically the game looks incredible, that is when everything finishes loading. Many times backgrounds, textures, or even people would pop up as they loaded. Thankfully the game is so fast-paced that it wasn’t bothersome.
I’ve spent about 12 hours on this game, and as fan of Fallout, L4D, and Borderlands I’d say this is really tops over all of those titles. The questing, leveling, weapon customization and collecting items is done in a way that I could see myself spending a lot of time on this game. In fact, I had a chance to log a few hours online with a friend who wasn’t as far along as me, and I was able to jump right in, help him quest, level myself, grab some items, and when I was finished with multiplayer, my game saved and put me right back where I was on the story with my new level and gear. Epic win!…right? Unfortunately, the content is so gnarly that it’s hard for me to find a place for Dead Island. If Dead Island were a person, I would high five him and want to hang out with him more because he’s awesome. I’d also never want him to hang out with my family because he’s vulgar and has a serious addiction to saying the “F” word. Thankfully, it’s not up to me whether or not you decide to play Dead Island, we’re just here to inform and hopefully point in the right direction, so I hope you take this for what it’s worth and decide for yourself whether or not it’s something you want to pick up.
Score out of 7:
Graphics: 5 - Once the graphics load they are great, but popups do happen.
Sound: 7 - Absolutely terrifying to hear a zombie sneaking up on you. Amazing quality.
Control: 6 - The control scheme is easy to pick up on. Toggling weapons is a breeze.
Gameplay: 6 - Great questing, free roam areas, collecting items, different talent trees and creating weapons make this a solid RPG
Story: 5 - Typical zombie story
Content: 1 - This is the kicker. Chopping off body parts, excessive language, some sensuality and seas of blood make me pause on this.
Final Score (not an average of the above scores but an overall score taking into account the reviewer’s personal opinion): 6 - Overall, I would give Dead Island a 6/7 for the achievement that it is as a video game, but due to content, cannot really “recommend” it to anyone (which would put it in a 2 or 3 area for a score). As I stated in the intro, the content is very mature and quite unappealing. Lots of language throughout the game and seriously graphic gore gave me pause to even write about Dead Island. No nudity or sexual content to speak of minus the fact that you are on a beach resort, so a lot of bikini clad ladies running around escaping the undead. So more violence and less sex usually means more parents are okay with picking it up for the kiddos. “Umm, sir this game is very violent with strong language. “says game store clerk. “Yes, but is there any sexual content?” asks dad. “None that I can say.”replies store clerk. “Great! I’ll take two copies. One for my 9 yr. old and one for my 12 yr. old.”…Sadly, that happens more often than not. Something to think about.