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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Second Opinion: Dead Island

After reading our very own Bryan Cole's review of Dead Island I never thought I would touch this game. His review, along with the hundreds of other opinions out there painted Dead Island as quite possibly the most horribly glitched game of all-time. Adding to this formula was a ridiculous story, repetitive gameplay, and horrible mechanics.

Thanks to the folks over at gamersgate I was able to get my hands on Dead Island.

Sorry Bryan Cole, but I couldn't disagree with your review any more.

Dead Island is essentially a menage a trois between Oblivion, Left 4 Dead, and Borderlands. While the first couple hours play out as an insanely long tutorial, the actual game becomes exponentially more intense. Almost immediately after exiting the opening area you find yourself with the ability to upgrade your weapons, loot enemies and vacant luggage, and drive a vehicle. While none of that may seem overly exciting, there's hardly a better feeling than cruising around the island painting your windshield with the blood of a thousand zombies.

Once you collect a few necessary materials - a baseball bat and nails mainly - you begin creating weapons that every zombie killer aficionado truly needs. You can also collect a ton of mods, such as shock, poison, power, and paralyzing. The fun doesn't end there however as there are dozens of different mods to be collected and used.

You level up in typical role-playing game fashion, being awarded experience points for both kills and completed quests. The mechanic that I truly appreciate is the means through which experience points via kills are allocated. As you aim with your weapon you'll notice the reticule will focus on a specific body part. You gain more experience by breaking the limbs of a zombie before actually killing them. This becomes crucial when fighting the larger zombies - Thugs - due to their strength. It's hilarious to break both their arms and watch them waddle at you with their stupid zombie face.

The skill system is set up like any stat tree found in your average game as well. You gain skill points as you level which you are then allowed to assign however you please. You can allocate them solely in your weapon skill of choice (I played as a Blunt expert), or for health reasons. The choice is yours. As I mentioned before, Dead Island is a combination of rpg-esque games. There's hardly anything revolutionary, but it all works incredibly well - at least for myself. I have yet to encounter any glitches and am currently on my second playthrough. This may be due to the fact that I have played the Fallout games, which should be coupled with an Achievement/Trophy for not encountering a glitch for a full minute.

What makes Dead Island an incredible amount of fun to play is the seamless online integration. At any given point you can drop in/out with your friends or strangers and join in on the fun. This includes story missions and side quests as well. The game simply saves when the online session is over, leaving you at the point where you and your buddies split ways. Having trouble with a boss battle? No worries. Simply find a fellow gamer that is around you and join zombie ass-kicking forces. Nothing quite like knocking down a Thug and kicking the shit out of it with three of your best friends.

I wish I could say that I totally understand where the negative reviews are coming from - but I honestly can't. Dead Island just may be the most underrated game of the year. In a world filled with zombie games that actually suck (note: Dead Rising), it's hard to grasp just what turned the majority of critics off. The island is absolutely gorgeous and offers a vast area to explore. At the twenty-hour checkpoint I only had fifty-one percent of the story completed. In other words, there's plenty of game for the price tag. Considering I played via a digital download from gamersgate and still experienced no glitches makes me seriously wonder if anyone actually played Dead Island.

If you plan on playing Dead Island do yourself a favor and come in with little to no expectations. If you can just have fun with the game rather than notice every minute detail I guarantee you'll appreciate what it is. Much like Borderlands it's a much more enjoyable experience with an online buddy, so if you want to play look for me online: StrengthGamer.

Now excuse me as I have more zombie killing to do. My shock modded nail mace needs another coat of zombie blood red.

*a copy of Dead Island was given to StrengthGamer by the wonderful folks over at gamersgate. We can't thank them enough*

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