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DEAD ISLAND was one of the most anticipated zombie games to
date. Techland and Deep Silver started a new phenomenon with this title, which
offers players a new type of survival horror that adds in RPG and melee combat
mechanics unlike any that have ever been attempted before.
The game (available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC)
centers on the island of Banoi, located in the South Pacific near Australia.
Banoi is home to the beautiful resort of Royal Palms, and it is, unfortunately,
the latest setting for a zombie outbreak. You control one of four characters
stuck on the island, and work with other survivors to fight off carnivorous
hordes of undead in order to escape. Each individual has a unique and riveting
history that is explained in explicit detail before you start playing. These
four folks—a rapper, a resort worker, a former football star and a fugitive on
the run—seem to have nothing in common except an unexplained immunity to the
virus that is running rampant through the population. The quartet soon
encounter the mysterious Colonel Ryder White, who convinces them that there may
be a vaccine to treat the disease and send them on a journey to find it.
The fundamentals of DEAD ISLAND’s mechanics place emphasis
on the combat system, where each character has a weapon specialty: blunt,
sharp, throwing and firearms. The game starts off allowing your character to
only use melee weapons, but as it continues, stronger powers or abilities start
to show. Characters progress by accumulating experience points, gaining levels
and acquiring new attributes and abilities from their unique skill trees. In
melee combat, there is the added feature of target tracking, which allows you
to expertly target specific areas of the undead while swinging. The
first-person-shooter combat is somewhat glitchy, but it is such a small part of
the game that you’ll barely notice.
The melee combat looks spectacular, as appendages are
severed by sharp weapons or bones are shattered from blunt force—but in fact,
the whole island of Banoi is an impressive work of art. You travel around the
outer edges searching the beaches for survivors at first, but later you enter
darker, ominous areas that are made even more frightening by the awful sounds
of the undead. This really sets up a nice atmosphere that is topped off with an
impressive soundtrack to slay zombies to, which allows DEAD ISLAND to give a
whole new meaning to rocking the game industry.
DEAD ISLAND is open-world, and you’ll spend a lot of time
running around Banoi, completing missions for survivors. You only have the
ability to travel on foot at first, but you soon gain access to vehicles to get
around faster and more efficiently. There are a slew of side missions for you
to complete in addition to the main storyline’s missions, which will ensure
that you get plenty of free time in a single play-through of DEAD ISLAND if you
choose to complete these extra quests.
DEAD ISLAND may have disappointed to some extent, but the
sum of all its parts will allow you to overlook its minor flaws. Any devoted
player comes to expect small hiccups in games that have been in development for
a long time like this one. DEAD ISLAND proved worth the wait and is a must-own
for any zombie lover. But be forewarned that you may find the intro song, “Who
Do You Voodoo,” stuck in your head long after you stop playing.
Video Game Reviews
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