Sunday, 2 October 2011

Dead Island - Tropical Paradise / Zombie nightmare

Walking casually along on the beautiful island of Banoi in Papua New Guinea, I paused to take in some sun and appreciate the beautiful tropical paradise with it's palm tree's and stunning beaches. Enjoying it's spectacular views and relaxing atmosphere, I was in absolute heaven.

Aside from the soft breeze, there was still that strange breathing noise far in the distance I had thought I'd heard earlier.

Oh, well. I was almost sure it was all in my head.

I sat at one of the many bars on the island and began sipping on a Pina Colada, enjoying the sound of the light splashing of the water in the pool, and the calm movement of the waves in the distance.

There it was again.

It was louder now, but I still couldn't figure out exactly which direction it was coming from.

Never mind though. I'm on holiday to relax, so why worry? It was strange though that no-one else was around.

Suddenly, with no warning at all, I was attacked by a ravenous flesh-eating zombie trying to claw my face off. It was beginning to make sense now as to the disappearance of everyone...everyone alive at least.

So now my heart was racing, I was terrified and had just gotten the biggest shock of my life.

With the Zombie trying it's absolute best to bite and claw at me while I tried desperately to hold it off, I began to realize that I'd now spilt my drink.

Now I was pissed I grabbed a loose plank lying on the ground and began to fight back.

Welcome to Dead Island.

Everyone loves Zombies. They're scary because of their underlying human appearance and the terrifying notion of  becoming one of them with just one bite.

As a matter of interest, Dead Island is the first Zombie game that I've ever seen that even mentions that you have an immunity to the disease. Every other Zombie game I've seen never even hints at it.

Dead Island is an open-world First Person game that has light RPG elements and a fantastic multiplayer component that makes it a clear winner for one of the best zombie games of all time. Think of a cross between Fallout 3 and Left for Dead in a tropical setting.

Unlike the constant string of zombie games that came before it, the setting is not claustrophobic. Neither is it as monotone in it's color scheme as most of the games before it. The closed off corridors and tight spaces of Resident Evil are almost nowhere to be found here. Instead, the settings in the game are often very relaxing and exotic, and strangely adds to to the sense of terror when being attacked by several zombies at a time.

Most of them are clothed in Bikini's and Board short's which is quite fitting when it comes to the holiday Island setting.

The focus on the game's combat is melee, and guns are very difficult to find. The majority of the combat is up close and personal, hacking and pummeling like crazy to survive. This makes combat incredibly intense and visceral and also extremely satisfying and brutal.

The game is designed for multiplayer, and has four characters to choose from - Each with their own story arc, specialty in weapons and skill tree to upgrade. The game can be played Single player, but is best when played with friends online in co-op.

Strangely, the game does not have a split-screen mode, which would have been a great addition and would have further enhanced the multiplayer aspect of the game.

The RPG side of the game is quite simple, but adds a fantastic touch to the overall experience with a simple levelling system that is enjoyable, but not overbearing.

Weapons can be upgraded and repaired to give greater damage, and new weapons can be crafted from the numerous odds and ends that you pick up on the island.

The Zombies themselves are unique in that they do not have a set movement speed. Some walk, some jog, and some sprint at full speed towards you giving a great deal of variety in the amount of panic you feel. There are also different types of zombies to fight later which keeps things fresh.

The game is filled with fetch quests and the like, which could have been a bit more varied to be honest. However, the world itself does make up for this in small ways, with the zombies and settings keeping the game interesting. The story is relatively basic, but decent enough to keep you interested.
The map is quite large and takes a long time to travel, with zombies constantly respawning in locations to make sure to keep you on your toes.

Dead Island is a very well-rounded game with lots to do, and a lot of scares to be had.


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