My two Kina on Dead Island.

I'm bored at work today so its time for another one of my quick takes on a recent gaming purchase, Dead Island to be specific. Upfront I'd like to say these are initial impressions as I've only played the single player so far (I am often hesitant to open my gaming experiences up to the dregs of the xbox live playerbase.) and I'm currently about 40% of the way through the game.

Dead Island is a 1st person zombie bash-a-thon that strikes me as being eerily similar to borderlands. It isn't too far I think to call this game ZomBorderIslands. Of course fire arms play a much smaller role in this game, but the basic concepts are all here. Talk to NPCs to get fetch quests/hunts that provide rewards/open up new areas. Kill bosses, Sort loot, sell loot, upgrade/purchase weapons, invest points in character upgrades, wash rinse repeat. Instead of killing pterodactyls and cloned masked crazies, replace with zombies and brown poor people with guns. Even down to 4 character classes each with a unique charge-up class ability. (yep, the "tanky" character punches things again.)

I've heard a lot of comparisons between this game and Dead Rising but aside from the obvious zombie parallel I don't find them to be actually similar at all. Beyond the difference of perspective, I find that silly as it is (so far) Dead Rising's narrative is more interesting than Dead Island's. Mostly I imagine, due to the fact that Dead Islands Narrative is pretty darn sparse thus far in the game. I think the official Escapist review mentioned that DI doesn't have DR/DR2's "annoying" timers. I'm not sure that makes DI better than DR/DR2. With the timers, the player is reminded that the situation is evolving and if they spend all day experimenting how many different ways there are to kill zombies they will likely fail.

Without the timers, Dead Island offers that "sandbox to kill zombies in" that everyone cried out for when DR2 was new. Sadly, because this game doesn't offer the same entertaining variety of ways of putting zombies out of their undead misery, all of the extra time the player is given just means that if you don't want to do the main plot missions, your choices are either side mission fetch quests, or scavenging for loot while slogging through samey combat.

Also, without the timers I don't really get the feeling of any urgency to anything that is happening in this game. At one point, a survivor who was fading fast asked me to run some insulin to his brother, and why not, I'm apparently the only character on the whole island who can do anything beyond waiting for me to come along and do things for me. I purposely waited to make that quest the last side quest I did in that act. Days of in game time should have passed, but when I came to the bungalow with the diabetic, did I find a corpse? Nope, not on this mystical place where time only passes when I can see it happening...Must be a side effect of the zombie outbreak.

So yea, This game is far from perfect. There's a few places where lack of polish betrays that this isn't from one of the marque developers/publishers. (like the driving)

All that said, I actually don't hate the game. I liked borderlands. I am a sucker for that age old gaming trick of having slews of items with marginally different stats with different color names. I don't hate micro managing my inventory, and there is a certain visceral thrill to bashing or slashing the head from a charging zombie. I don't hate the setting even if it lacks the polish of say... Rapture , I like the tropical resort scenery, particularly when juxtaposed against the poverty of the city.

Maybe I'll like it more after I finish the game and dip my toes in Multiplayer. As it stands I'd say its average 3/5.

TL/DR. Its ok. Its not so much 1st Person DR as it is Borderlands with zombies and less guns.


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