It’s been over about six months since Dead Island shambled onto our radar with one of the most provocative game trailers in the history of the industry. The Dead Island trailer went on to win an advertising award at Cannes – but provided very little information about what players could expect from the tone and gameplay of the upcoming title.
Overtime, through a series of character and class reveals, it became increasingly clear that Dead Island was not going to be an emotionally-charged scramble for survival (as the trailer seemed to indicate); rather, the first person shooter title was going for a somewhat cartoonish, and especially bloody, trek through a post-zombpocalyptic landscape – as a result the latest Dead Island trailer, highlighting the co-op gameplay (and f-bombs), is especially reminiscent of another zombie-liquidation co-op title.
Admittedly, it’s selling the team at Techland a bit short to simply refer to Dead Island as Left 4 Dead: Melee Edition but the similarities in the title are becoming increasingly hard to ignore – albeit with less bullets and more melee killing in the case of Dead Island. Players take control of a rag-tag group of caricature protagonists that have to make their way to an escape point – while killing endless hordes of infected, and mutating infected, along the way. No doubt, Dead Island will feature a larger overarching campaign story than the serialized “make your own story” approach in the Left for Dead series – however, given the stereotypical Dead Island player characters, it’s hard to imagine that the story will be able to come close to the complexity of the original trailer.
Judge for yourself by checking out the Dead Island Co-Op Trailer: “Part 3: Fight Together” below:
No doubt some players will froth at the mouth over the sharp visuals (or taking a butcher knife to a zombie hoard) but the game is facing an especially difficult uphill battle at this point because 1) It’s hard to imagine Techland, the developer behind Nail’d, improving on a format pioneered by Valve, arguably the most creative development studio in the industry – and 2) gamers were excited by the Dead Island trailer because it seemed to offer something new – something daring.
Instead, players are being fed the same rehashed point and shoot mayhem that dominates the genre (Left 4 Dead 2, Dead Rising 2, and even the Call of Duty zombie maps). As Resident Evil became less about tense scares, and more about mowing down waves of Majinis (evidenced by the equally Left 4 Dead-like Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City), many players were hoping that Techland would be offering a new, and smart, journey through a zombie-infected landscape, a journey that didn’t hold back – a journey where mommy, daddy, and even baby doll daughter weren’t safe.
Another discouraging point was the response to Techland’s latest game, Call of Juarez: The Cartel, which isn’t even out and has been mostly panned by critics (read our Call of Juarez: The Cartel review) for outdated game mechanics, throwaway characters, and lack of emotional complexity. As a result, it’s looking increasingly likely that Dead Island could be the next game in the industry to be crippled by a combination of brilliant marketing, high expectations but average, or even mediocre, game design.
Obviously, we won’t know until the game releases in a month – but, it’s hard to imagine that, based on what we’ve seen of the game, as well as our hands-on impressions, that Dead Island is set to deliver anything more than a hold-over until Valve’s unannounced, but inevitable, zombie follow-up Left 4 Dead 3.
Dead Island releases September 6, 2011 for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.