‘Dead Island’ Review

Published 3 years ago by

Dead Island Review

Game Rant’s Alex Sebenski reviews Dead Island

Dead Island sparked the interest of gamers worldwide with a beautifully artistic trailer set to an emotional piano track. The game play videos promised a new and more realistic way to fight that would require the player to think more strategically about their attacks or die in a zombie swarm.

As an open world, zombie apocalypse first person perspective, melee fighter with multiplayer Dead Island provides a very unique combination of many game play elements, used in other games, but it looks like Techland may have bit off more than they could chew with this huge undertaking – as an abundance of bugs ruin a very fun, and visually stunning zombie killing game.

After choosing from one of the four stereotypical characters, who each specialize in a certain type of weapon, the player will find themselves waking up in the middle of the zombie apocalypse at an island resort. Each of the characters has their own customizable skill trees and “Fury” abilities – which are improved as experience is gained by completing missions and killing enemies. The easily avoidable and boring plot involves the group of four survivors attempting to find a cure, escape the island, and help as many survivors as they can on their way.

The mission structure is pretty basic. Groups of survivors that have holed-up for safety on the island assign the player (or players) tasks such as gathering items, travelling to certain locations, or escorting a NPC to safety. The mediocre voice acting isn’t helped by the lack of depth in the story. Despite competent character designs, animations are jarringly robotic and flat out ugly at times. That said, the very large, open world of the island is gorgeous with beautiful landscapes and realistic road and building layouts.

Right from the start players are introduced to the post-apocalyptic necessity of scrounging for items and money in luggage and closets. Every day tools like hammers, paddles and bats are utilized as weapons while other found items can be appended to weaponry to change their properties and add damage, for example: a bat with nails or electrified machete. Weapon modifications require a work bench, money, a recipe (which can be found or earned by completing missions) and the necessary ingredients (i.e. items) – which can be found scattered around the island inside trash bins, computers and other nooks and crannies.

Dead Island Review Screenshot -  Electrified Machete

It’s similar to the weapon system in Dead Rising but lends to the feeling of realism as the player is desperate for anything to fight with – rather than grounded in a mall with a humorous selection of weaponry. Throughout the game the weapons and the modifications become more interesting which makes the effort put in to find money and items rewarding. That said, the speed at which weapons degrade is believably fast and, of course, requires money to repair. The game fails to introduce the player to the weapon degradation system and an uninformed player may fight with dulled blade or a broken bat for a long time before realizing that they need to change weapons. It’s a good thing that the inventory size allowed is large and switching weapons is fairly simple.

Dismembering zombies with home made weapons is extremely satisfying in Dead Island. The first person perspective, which requires targeting specific body parts, can feel awkward at first – but swinging a customized axe and removing a limb from an oncoming zombie is beautifully gory and so enjoyable that it may not get boring after killing piles of zombies the same way a few hundred times. Despite a lot of standard walking, or running, zombie-fare, there are few variations that appear on occasion – each possessing mutations very similar to those from the Left 4 Dead series.

Kicking (which doesn’t require stamina like running, jumping, and weapon attacks) will push back enemies and drain their stamina. Knocking zombies down with a kick is useful for crowd control, letting the player take on an enemy at a time, which is preferable. The damage a single zombie can do is significant and more than two or three at a time usually spells death for any player. There’s isn’t much strategy to killing any type of zombie other than keeping them on the ground with kicks and cutting in for hit and run attacks. It’s as enjoyable as killing the same zombies over and over again can be.

Dead Island Review Screenshot - Multiplayer - Ram

The ability to easily jump in a game with up to three friends, or random online players, is as entertaining as it is helpful. At the push of a button players can join forces with others at a similar point in the game. Zombies scale in difficulty as players join, team killing is impossible other than with explosives, and missions can be completed as a team or individually – so issues caused by uncooperative individuals is kept to a minimum. Playing online or over a network works flawlessly; though, an unexpected join can be jarring – as objects disappear and reappear without warning.

Unfortunately, anger inducing bugs and programming ruin Dead Island. Players, us included, have faced issue after issue with the game, such as the accidental release of a developer version on Steam and saved data vanishing into thin air. Other bugs range from unresponsive controls to game-breaking glitches that lock a player into a room with invisible doors or freeze-out mission objectives, making it impossible to complete a task. Spawn points after death are chosen poorly – dropping the player into a crowd of zombies or happily (but without any challenge) right next to their objective. The AI pathing on escort missions is laughable as they will often pace back and forth trying to find a door, jump off cliffs to their death, or refuse to continue until a zombie who is clearly out of range has been killed. The list of bugs, big and small, continues to grow – and, despite a promise from Techland to release a stream of patches, it’s hard to believe that some of these issues can be easily resolved.

In the end, Dead Island is an ambitious titles, combining a Fallout 3 looting and leveling system with Dead Rising‘s weapon crafting and Far Cry 2 first person melee fighting as well as a Left 4 Dead co-op structure but with so many gameplay elements squeezed into one title, the finished product is somewhat of a Frankenstein monster (not a competent sum of its parts). The concept was solid and the lack of plot is forgivable (who really needs a plot to kill zombies?) but the sheer amount of bugs and poor gameplay designs in the title is unforgivable. If everything worked as expected then Dead Island could have been a must buy, but instead it’s mostly a half-baked product, rotting and aimlessly shambling around.

Dead Island is available now for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.

Our Rating:

2.5 out of 5

TAGS: Dead Island, Deep Silver, PC, PS3, Techland

  • ATG

    I agree with this review, we experienced a few different bugs though. The one thing I disagreed with is there is no strategy to killing ANY zombie. I developed a different approached to Rams, Infected, Floaters, Butchers, or just being out-numbered. Though not MUCH different strategy, it was definitely there. I would have preferred to face 20 zombies and have no choice but to run rather than face 5-10 tops! Maybe the engine can’t handle that many dynamic numbers?

    Otherwise this review is spot on. Good job Alex!

    PS my name is Alex too, and todays my birthday. 22 😀

    • DarthMalnu

      Happy birthday dude.

  • Sin

    I have this for the 360 and have not found any bugs or glitches, personally. I LOVE and OBSESSED with this game!!!

  • ricenchicken

    The glitches people complained about were fixed within the first few days. This game runs and has played fine after the build mishap. Got to say my favorite zombie game so far, and looking forward to additional content.

    Logged 30 hours already

    • ATG

      yea mine is good. Had an Infected run through a wall into the room I was in though. I also logged 30+ hours upon completion. I want a sequel or an expansion.

  • Mac

    i love this game. find it to be better than alot of other zombie games out there and i love the borderlands feel it had. i really dont think it should have gotten such a low rate

  • M3rcad0

    PS3 is bugged out and glitch’d to the max. wait until further notice on a patch that works to buy it for PS3.

  • Tay

    I love the game! Noticed one glitch and I got out of it quick with the help of a friend. But the patch is out now so maybe a post review is in order. Its a great game, nice survival aspect to it and when your getting rushed by tons of the infected zombies, a Ram and a Suicider at once, it’s not rocket science but you can’t just blast through like L4D. Anyway, it was an “ok” review, I feel the overall experience outweighs the negative by a large margin. I think far less people have experienced the really bad issues but the majority are loving it.

  • BFTE

    this a great game nothing really wrong with it and yes you have to have some stratgey to kill the zombies in the city bc there are so many me and my friends ran most of the time because it was scary lol

  • jwalka

    voice acting is pretty bad (i’m an aussie and just cringe at the terrible fake accents), no one gets a zombie game for the narrative, so i don’t really care, it just moves me from setting to setting. zombies are challenging (if you rush) but aren’t impossible (especially if you have the right weps and know how to take care of them etc).
    the map is huge and pretty detailed, but the missions (from what i’ve experienced thus far) mainly consist of going somewhere, getting garbage (like a teddy bear), then journeying back to the quest giver.

    there are a ton of graphical and technical issues, suck as the kick animation not working and getting the zombie to go through you, not being able to fight (properly) on stairs, issues with objects and their weight (chairs are like walls if knocked over). i could go on, but i’m sure everyone has a good idea of how messy the game is.

    i just hope they clean out everything and just make things alot better, b/c the game has alot of potential, and is really fun (even when playing alone).

  • Mass

    Boo on the review, I enjoy this game, and can play for hours without a hick-up. Hell, I even jumped on time last night when an unexpected freak came up behind me in the sewers.. Nice ! Your review is not what I am hearing from others, and not my personal experience. Dead Island deserves better than a 2.5 – Seriously

  • XxpancakexX

    This review is all wrong. Yes I have seen a few bugs in the game. But over all at least its Something Fresh on the table for the zombie Genre. Love how hard it is, tough and hard to stay alive. Though I do wish It had a day/night cycle. That would make it really interesting to Fight the zombies at night.There is one bug i noticed on any playthourgh where you’re clearing out the lifeguard tower, the zombie on the chair will not spawn sometimes, you are forced to load last checkpoint but other then that Its pretty awsome game and worth the sixty dollars. In my book it earns a 4.5 not a 2.5, what are you guys smoking. To much for what I see.

  • Ajbobak

    This game had the potential to be awesome. That being said, the ammoung of bugs make it worthless. I’ve had SIX save files get corrupted for no reason at all, erasing upwards of 80+ hours of gameplay. Even when making backup saves on a second device, both corrupted. Because of these problems I will not be playing until these problems are fixed, but I don’t expect that it will be anytime soon.

  • Canada Goose Parkas

    The ability to easily jump in a game with up to three friends, or random online players, is as entertaining as it is helpful

  • http://gamerant.com Barry Miller

    Let me just start out by saying that some people just can not handle this kind of crazy,but I can.A huge RE fan,and this is just up my ally.Love dead island.When I first seen the trailer for it,my mouth was watering over it.now that I own it,I love it more.ha,ha,is that possible.The whole plot to survive and make it out is just too memersizing for me to resist.Love Dead island.

  • http://yahoo.com Home Slice

    This review makes it out to be a bad game. It is the exact opposite- the game is just fantastic. There is nobody who played it that doesn’t recommend it to everybody. Trust me, you will enjoy Dead Island for several months!

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  • Angie

    I have the PS3 version of this game and having loads of problems. Glitch after glitch after glitch. Even after marking my waypoint, my directions disappear if I die. After creating weapons… they don’t work properly…i.e., I have the High Voltage Homemade Machete and 90% of the time is does nothing relative to electrocuting anything. My Phoenix Fire Axe works occasionally; those I find or am rewarded have disappeared. I’m not a gamer – just play occasionally, but I think this would have made a better 3rd person game where you can see what’s coming at you. This game is awful for the inexperienced player…..the zombies come at you from everywhere and there is no indication of them on the mini map. Most games with enemies at least show you that they are around or nearby. With this game, you are virtually blind. I’m glad I bought this used for a fraction of it’s original cost, because I would have been really upset with it due to its many glitches.