INTRO: You're a sucker who got trapped on a resort island. I know, it doesn't sound so bad..but the place is crawling with flesh eating zombies. It's up to you to help people along the way and get the hell out. And along the way, you've got to kill a hell of a lot of zombies in fun ways.
Dead Island is a different sort of game that strangely borrows from others that came before it. I know that sentence seems to contradict itself, but go with me here. Like Dead Rising 2, Dead Island lets you make weapons. In fact, you might notice that this game doesn't feel like any one game you've played, but perhaps a few ingredients from different titles you've enjoyed over the years.
You'll start out by picking a character and this is an important choice. you get Sam the brute, Xian the weapons expert, Purna the gun lover and Logan the throwing expert. They're all really different as the game progresses and you should know that this isn't a first person shooter..unless you want it to be, if that makes any sense. Each one has their own benefit and I found that during my play throughs, I was surprised how different each character was. Playing as Logan was a challenge, as I've never spent any real time just throwing stuff in a game. Once you play as Logan you get to realize the benefits of throwing things, something you might otherwise overlook. Plus, you can stick 8 knives in a zombie's face and literally pull them out later when you're done. Delicious.
Unlike Dead Rising 2, it isn't as easy as you might like it to be. Instead, you've got to complete quests and earn recipes that will show you how to combine things. Why they couldn't figure it out on their own, I'll never know. Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. You don't just hit the ground running in this title- instead you really have to develop your skills along the way and the game can be frustrating. You won't find yourself immediately immersed in fun and that might turn casual gamers off. You've got little to work with to start and things ramp up slowly as you level your skills. You can level up Fury, Combat and Survival skills as you go.
If you love the feeling of really leveling up, you're going to like this game. It definitely feels good to get better. In fact, I think this is a real strength of the game- it doesn't blind you with everything it has up its sleeve all at one time. This game is a bit of a potboiler and just when you think you know the game, it changes the rules (and that, I won't give away). Unfortunately though, the game can get repetitive, and it basically involves killing a bunch of zombies or going to get something. Not thrilling. There are bosses too, but they seem to be cheap, super strong versions of regular zombies.
In terms of combat, it isn't that tough. You grab what you need and start whacking away. Dead Island is actually a game that rewards melee over gunplay, and don't eve underestimate the power of your feet! In fact, guns are a bit unwieldy and unless you have high marksmanship skills, it'll be annoying at times. Each weapon has its own stamina level and will eventually degrade until you repair it or toss it. I recommend a hearty boot to take a zombie out, then you stamp its face in. You'll save a lot of ammo that way. Sure, it doesn't always work in crowds, but consider it a protip from this fellow.
That isn't to say that this game is really hard, it just starts you off with little. The zombies aren't particularly tough unless they crowd you, at least until once you get your act together a bit. This isn't to say you won't die, because you certainly will. Those pesky shamblers have a bad habit of hiding behind bushes and trees and they will get you by surprise. In fact, when you die all you'll do is lose cash for some reason..and there's a fair amount of it on the island so you don't really feel like you're punished for dying. Be careful though, because if you throw everything you've got at at zombie and die, it's not going to come back. it's gone.
This is a big game too, that can provideover 30 hours of fun. If you want, you can grab a friend to play too in co-op mode. With that said though, start together because if you start halfway through someone else's game, you're going to get eaten up pretty quickly. I love co-op games and appreciated this option. This is a different sort of game and lays a decent foundation, but certainly has room to grow. You'll know what I mean once you play it.
Graphics look great, once they've loaded. I'm sure this will eventually get patched, but when you walk into a new section of the island, everything gets super slow and starts loading, looking hideous in the process. That, and your radar seems to break sometimes, which seems unacceptable. With that said, when it works properly, the island is lush and impressive. Characters look pretty good and the zombies are animated fairly well. The gore effects are fantastic too, with some lovely, chunky detail to enjoy.
Sound isn't overly impressive. Zombie noises, ambient noise and sound effects are decent, but the voice acting is really spotty and the music is nothing to write home about, unfortunately.
I like Dead Island because it's different and has some cool ideas. The execution isn't perfect and unfortunately aside from a few unexpected twists, the story is lacking. With that said, if you were interested in it before, I absolutely recommend checking it out. It might not be perfect but it can be fun and pays off as you go along.
Final Score: 7.5/10