If, prior to firing it up, you told me Dead Island 2 would have me thinking of 2002 mafia comedy Analyze That, I would never have believed you. But several hours into the game, all I could think of was Billy Crystal’s furious speech, given as he beats a gangster to a pulp.
“I can’t take it anymore! That’s what I hate about you fucking sociopaths! You just keep changing the rules to suit yourselves!”
Replace “sociopath” with “FPS” and you’ve got how I felt after it took me half an hour to clear one particular chunk of Dead Island 2’s movie studio level. Every now and then a zombie would spawn in, but mostly I was flinging myself at walls and boxes in an effort to make progress.
I was cursing ledges that refused to let me grab onto them, flinging water containers around like a lunatic. Would it help if I washed the caustic lime-green vomit off every surface? Probably not, but it would mean that, when I flailed at a wall, I wouldn’t get my feet burnt.
With no sensible alternative, and infinite water at my disposal, I started pouring it everywhere, pausing only to dispatch the odd zombie. I considered making some kind of pyramid of corpses and using it to reach the rafters, but Dead Island 2’s physics engine isn’t quite that flexible.
It was only when half the room had been soaked and I’d thrown several tanks at the undead that I tried something different. By “different,” I mean that I was fully prepared to shoot, stab, or smash every single surface until something gave way.
As it turns out, it was only one area that needed bashing. The solution, I discovered, was to smash a couple of doorway-blocking boxes with my weapon. My initial reaction was one of profound shame, not least because I’d actually climbed onto those same boxes.
I’d earlier mocked the game for reminding me that I could clear a doorway by smashing the planks that blocked it. “What do you think I am, a fecking eejit?” my slayer Dani might well have said. And there I was, the feckingest eejit of them all. I’d even smashed one of those crates two minutes into the game.
But the more I thought about it, and the further I ventured into Dead Island 2, the more Billy Crystal’s rage-fueled rant echoed with me. Games have a deranged, inconsistent kind of logic all their own, and over the years, I’d become accustomed to that logic.
I’d been conditioned to accept that, unless a crate had a very specific, slatted and/or lightweight appearance, it could withstand anything from a crowbar through to a rocket launcher. And it wasn’t all that long ago that I’d been humiliated by a thoroughly unbreakable Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord barrel.
In my head, those crates weren’t there to be smashed; they were a lazy way of blocking areas I was destined never to explore, in the same league as Silent Hill 2’s broken doors. With the possible exception of Half-Life and Half Life 2, I was accustomed to being blocked by waist-high barriers or immovable luggage trolleys.
But this.. could this be something new? Could a game with no less than three developers, announced around 10 years ago, be putting its foot down and doing away with stupid, inconsistent video game logic?
The answer was, of course, no. Buoyed by my success with the boxes, as I progressed through the game I began smashing away at any obstacles in my path only to find that the vast majority of them were made of a supernaturally impenetrable and immovable substance. How the zombies actually got past them I have no idea.
But I’m willing to forgive Dead Island 2 because it’s such ridiculous, gruesome fun. This is a game that lets you dislodge zombies’ jaws and dropkick the dead into electrified swimming pools. Just don’t expect me to fight any more crates.