Video Game Review: Dead Island

Developer: Techland

Publisher: Deep Silver

Release Date: September 6th, 2011

Platforms: X-Box 360, PlayStation 3, PC

Genre: First Person Shooter, Horror, RPG

Rating: M for Mature (Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol)

By Nolan Patrick Smith

(Victor Valley)–Zombies. They are everywhere pop culture has to offer these days. On TV, you got AMC’s The Walking Dead, books have World War Z, and comic books have, once again, The Walking Dead among a plethora of more zombie-based books. In video games, Dead Rising and Left 4 Dead hold the crowns for zombie games. With Dead Island, developers hoped to put a new, quality entry into the market.

Story: The premise of Dead Island is pretty simple: you have an island resort, you have a zombie outbreak, and voila! You have a game. Players can choose one of four playable characters to go through the story mode with, each having a stand out advantage. One increases damage with blade weapons, and so on. Each character also has their own backstory, as well as the reason they are on the island to begin with. From the basic gist of the game, it sounds like a winner, but let’s break it down to see how it stacks up.

Design/Art: The island of Dead Island is breathtakingly beautiful. From the body of water to inside a dimly lit hotel room, the work that went into designing this world is evident. Shadows bounce around indoors, and the beach looks good enough to go camping on it. The zombies themselves have an added gruesome factor to them, so when they sneak up on you and you see that face, it rattles you. All in all, the look of Dead Island is one to behold, and was the main reason I picked up the game.

Gameplay: Gameplay, on the other hand, is one of the reasons I regretted buying Dead Island. The movement and commands have a stiff feel to them, and many of the game play elements boggle the mind. Take, for instance, rummaging through lost luggage and closets: instead of seeing the item you are picking up, you investigate, then a list tells you what is there and lets you choose if you want it.

The action part of Dead Island isn’t much better, as it becomes reduced down to spamming a button as you see your character swing a weapon stiffly at an enemy. Plus, once you do kill a zombie, you don’t see any wounds or marks on them, they just magically die. A huge turn off for a game that could have been one of the best of the year, which is now mediocre at best.

Sound: The score of Dead Island haunts through the speakers and provides a nice backdrop for a zombie bashing adventure. The voice acting is well done, as it comes across as non-annoying, which is something to say in the video game world. The protagonists all have believable voice actors, which makes the journey a little better.

Overall: I was really hyped for this game, I really was. I followed the production of it, and I even picked it up at the midnight opening. Upon playing it, I felt cheated. Maybe I was expecting a more action-based game, or maybe I was just hoping that a new holy grail of zombie games was in my hands. For me, Dead Rising still holds the crown, leaving Dead Island with an honorable mention.  An average game, I give Dead Island a 7 out of 10.

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