Opinion: Dead Island

Dead Island is the new action horror game from Deep Silver, that first hit the headlines with an iconic teaser trailer earlier this year, but does it live up to the hype?

My feelings after the first few minutes were pretty poor. It looked cheap, and the opening segment had annoying trigger points that meant you were forced to do things a certain way or you couldn’t continue. But as soon as my character had joined the survivors holed up in Dead Island, my feelings changes entirely. Sure, it might not look as polished as the new Deus Ex, but fighting the zombies is just endlessly fun.

Mixing dynamic zombie combat with RPG character development works beautifully. Dead Island has interesting weapons crafting, and you need to repair them too if you want to survive, while you can decide which survival and combat skills you want to develop. It’s mainly about up close melee combat, and it feels good. You can fight off zombies intelligently, for example hacking their legs to slow them down, and be creative by throwing a gas canister into a swarm, then blowing it up and much more.

The atmosphere is reminiscent of TV drama Lost, mixing beautiful surroundings with high tension and fear (and a ridiculous story?). There have been so many games recently that use zombies just because they’re so hot right now; it’s refreshing to see a serious take on them once again. Dead Island is a frightening place to be, but sometimes you find yourself exploring and forgetting the monsters, which only increases their effect when they inevitably interrupt you again.

My full review is here, but beyond that I wanted to say that Dead Island is to me a reminder of what games should be. It’s the opposite of Rockstar’s LA Noire (coming this fall to a PC near you!), the costly blockbuster praised for its facial technology and innovative gameplay. But the big budget masked dull, linear gameplay that gave the illusion of choice, while actually offering players none.

Dead Island, conversely, has a b-movie budget feel to it, with some pretty basic facial animations, but is based on excellent, well developed enjoyable gameplay. You have real control over what happens. It’s occasionally ugly, but genuinely fun to play, and the driving is much better than the laughable bumper car physics of LA Noire.

This year PC gamers are spoiled for choice when it comes to action RPGs, with the previously  mentioned Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and the upcoming Mass Effect 3. Dead Island is a game that really deserves your attention too!

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