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Platform: PC|Edition: Standard|Change
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on September 16, 2011
As a fan of zombie games, and a fan of co-operative games, I was pretty excited for the release of Dead Island to play with my friend. Then it actually came out, and all my expectations were shattered...

1. GAMEPLAY: The gameplay is horribly uninspired. You choose one of four characters (blade-centric, throwing-centric, melee-centric and gun-centric), and then proceed to kill zombies and complete missions for experience to level up. Each time you level up, you get a skill point to spend in the character's "unique" skill trees. Each character has 3 trees: Fury, which is basically the character's special move and spending points in this tree helps go towards enhancing the effects of Fury; Combat, which is the character's effectiveness with his or her specific background description (IE, Xian, the blade-character, has combat skills which revolve around landing more Critical Hits with knives and machetes, whereas Logan, the throwing-character, has combat skills which revolve around increasing damage with thrown weapons); and Survival, which is just a random assortment of skills, mostly shared between characters, that allow you to do things like pick locked chests or repair weapons for less money. I would like to point out that the only real "Skill" you have in the game is the Fury move that you can unlock with 1 point; all other so-called "Skills" are basically modifiers to how much damage the character does or how much money he/she has to spend.

Besides this, there are no real RPG-elements to the game. Zombies scale with your level the entire way through, as do weapons, and you'll gain health as you level up. Other than that, there are no attributes you have to manage, or even get to look at for that matter. As I said, it's basically a first person hack-and-slash with some RPG elements thrown in to the mix.

There are dozens of weapons in this game, from pipes to hammers to katanas and assault rifles. You'd think that such a wide variety would lend itself to several different play styles, but this is unfortunately not so. A majority of the weapons are objectively worse than others. Compare Diving Knives and Axes to a Machete, for instance. Diving Knives are EXTREMELY fast, which should make them perfect against scoring massive amounts of damage in a short amount of time. Except, their durability ratings are so low that they break after two kills, leaving them completely worthless until you can repair them again. Likewise, an Ax does MASSIVE amounts of damage in one hit, and has high durability, but the swing is so unbearably slow that you will have to rely more on kicking the zombies back if you want to even think about using it. So really, the only logical choice between the three is a Machete, which has a fair balance of durability, damage and speed.

Throughout the game you'll find weapon mods, which can add elemental damage (or just increase damage) of a weapon. You'll use items you scavenge in chests, luggage, etc, in order to modify these. This is actually a pretty cool feature of the game. Unfortnately, the repairing and upgrading aspect of weapons (done at the same work benches) was not so well-thought out. Instead of using any physical materials, you just spend money to repair the equipment. There's no point in paying money, since you're not paying a person, and most of the work benches are in abandoned areas anyway. This aspect of the game felt extremely rushed.

The combat itself is also very redundant. On a PC, with a mouse and keyboard, you're locked in to using the "Digital" control mode, which only allows you to left click to swing your weapon. If you have a gamepad, you can switch to "Analog", which adds more indepth combat to the mix; namely, controlling how and when your weapon swings exactly (it lets you prep your weapon for attack). The combat essentially always boils down to either Kicking zombies and stomping them when they are down (if they are in a group of 3 or less), or if they're in a group of 4 or more, engaging in Fury mode and wiping them all out in a matter of seconds. Or, kiting (strafing around them and attacking). There's not much variation to it. Firearms are weak against zombies, but are capable of taking down human enemies in one hit to the head... And because ammo is in limited quantities, it's basically a way for the game to control how you play throughout the game.

GRAPHICS: I don't have a lot to say about the graphics. They look OK (maybe an 8/10, not ultra-realistic but they won't make your eyes bleed). Perhaps the most detailed thing about this game, though, are the zombie models as they take damage. It's impressive to light a zombie on fire and watch the skin and muscle melt off, "Raiders of the Lost Ark"-style.

STORY/AMBIENCE: So far I haven't spoken too highly of the game, so you may wonder why I gave it a 2. As the title suggests, I played it with my friend, and it was fairly enjoyable to team up and share commentary, glitches we encountered, and just strategize together. That said, the rest of the world just feels utterly lifeless, be it with a friend or offline. This may seem like a cool thing in a zombie game, but it's not. Half of the characters you encounter have NO desire to save themselves, and seem more concerned about finding lost teddy bears or gulping down dozens of bottles of water instead of self-preservation. It feels highly unrealistic, and I felt like I was just going through the motions for the majority of the game. The characters stand there lifelessly and assign you the most tedious and mundane of tasks ("find my necklace from my bungalow!", for instance).

You'll travel from a resort beach to a city to a jungle and so on... And there is a slight amount of exploration to do, but you'll never really find anything unique. You're most likely to encounter random scavenge items everywhere, and possibly generic collectible items, but beyond that, the whole world feels generic. Any survivors you do find that need help are there only because they have a mission to offer right after you save them, and then they ungratefully repeat to you several times that they need this task done yesterday.

The story itself develops VERY late in the game; of 4 Acts, you don't really see any development until the end of the 3rd. There's been a zombie outbreak on the island, and one mysterious voice on the radio seems to have the answer on how to escape. So you concern yourself with the first several minutes (hours, days, weeks? The game does an awful job of telling you how much time has elapsed) of just trying to set up safehouses for people and then getting them apple juice to survive on.
Also, regardless of how many players there are, the game will always imply that all 4 possible Player Characters [PC] are on this adventure together! Of course, if you're playing by yourself or a friend, you won't see the other PC's at all the rest of the time, and so this seems completely silly and nonsensical.

SOUND: My last point of the day (and this review is draggin', sorry), is the sound quality. Weapons sound great against the zombie corpses, zombie sounds pretty nice (and some, like the Infected, can be especially terrifying). Also, as zombies burn or get electrocuted or throw up, they make pretty convincing noises.

The voice acting is fairly bland in its own right, but to the developers' credit, they made the characters sound how they should (Russians sound... fairly Slavic, the guy from New Orleans sounds like he's from the South, etc.). The problem here is that the voice acting lines repeat themselves quite a bit. If you walk into a room, for example, a character is likely to say something along the lines of, "OOooh I hope this is all over soon!" Take two steps outside their "voice trigger range" and they're gonna repeat it again. I was on an escort quest, and the character we were escorting repeated the same line a dozen times as we made progress through the mission.

SUMMARY: ALL IN ALL, Dead Island is a fairly bland game, with an illusion of exploration of (empty) territory and a choice of a vast multitude of (mostly useless) weapons, but I would say that a purchase could be justifiable if you're playing with a friend or two and enjoy zombies. Otherwise, stay as far away from this as possible.
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on October 22, 2011
good game. great graphics, only thing i dont like is that anyone can get on your game unless you set it to private before you even start the game. I have had my game messed up twice by online gamers jumping in my level. Dont like that at all. once the main mission is done its a game o fetch the rest of the time with side and reoccuring missions that will just run you ragged. also there is an issue with switching weapons you cant just hit a key or button and change to the next weapon, you have to go to the inventory menu and equip it each time you want to change, even thought you have 8 weapon slots. and the firearms arnt that effective as they should be head shots dont kill the zombies it takes multiple hits. Over all i like this game but get it as cheap as you can.
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on June 29, 2012
I didn't realize that this would need to be accessed via Steam and I tried to be nit-picky about what games I purchase. I'm deployed out in Afghanistan so the internet out here is complete garbage (just enough for facebook and this reivew). When I got the game and it started updating Steam and installing though it as well I just said "#$%!" Besides the fact that the update took ages, I instantly looked online to see if I could play this without a connection. The answer? Yes. The only thing people need to worry about is logging into Steam but once you set your Steam to offline mode, you can tote this anywhere and I play it as long as Steam is up. Now, this can suck but because you have to have an online connection to access Steam but if you're the type to keep it running in the background like myself, you won't have issues with it.

Dead Island has had an update that fixes a lot of bugs and issues players had problems with and I was happy to see when I installed this game that an update was being downloaded simply because I knew this game had attention from the development team.

SO WHY SHOULD I BUY THIS GAME?
1.) It's zombies and that's awesome.
2.) The game is optimized well and can run on a pretty standard computer (mine's not high-tech)
3.) Xbox 360 controller settings if you prefer to operate that way
4.) Fantastic graphics, gore and FX.
5.) Decent story
6.) Full-open world
7.) Fun combat and world exploration similar to Bioshock
8.) It gets updated often
9.) 4-player co-op
10.) Over 100 hours of gameplay

WHAT COULD STEER ME AWAY?
1.) You have to access Steam to play whether it's online or offline.
2.) The RPG style elements like hit point combat system might steer away action-driven players
3.) Gender-locked playing styles
4.) Playing styles, you can't be universally awesome
5.) Combat bugs and other worldy glitches

Overall, the game has nice presentation and it's enough to keep zombie fans happy. Besides the Steam issue and some of the features the game doesn't offer, if you can push aside your pickiness on what sex you want to be or play style, you will thoroughly enjoy this game for the $30 it's worth. There's so much to do and so much to find you can spend endless hours in a zombie rampage on a great-looking island and kick ass with a smile on your face.
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on March 11, 2012
I am playing this one as single player on a PC and thoroughly enjoying it. Game loaded fine but did take a while as it is a long game. I already had a steam account so game updated in about 60 seconds.
Lots and Lots of side quests of varying degrees of difficulty plus the main quests. If you enjoy killing Zombies this is the game for you. Shoot them, Hack them, bludgeon them, electrocute them etc. Some cons, as there are in every game, such as the Thug Zombies have a longer reach then you do with a shovel,If you are a shooter guns are few and ammo scarce, Some times the quest tracker stops showing you where you are. At the first of the game do not set your gamma low as they suggest as you cannot see your hand in front of your face. I am looking forwards to many more hours of play and replay with this one!
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on December 28, 2011
The ghrapics of this game looks really good but I have to say that the first few chapter of the game is too easy but the game picks up when you reach the downtown are. The weapons are mostly melee and it can be customized. pistols are almost no use against zombies but great agaisnt human enemies. But the best thing about this zombie game is its open world! You can go almost anywhere and the map is easy to navigate too. The game is quite long too; it has so many side missions that it also gets repetitive at times. But if you are a zombie fan, there is no better zombie game than this right now.
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on October 27, 2012
Let me start off by saying this game is friggin awesome. I did not like any of the left 4 dead games because the characters were boring, and we knew nothing about them. In dead island we learn the back story of our character of choice, of coarse we do get very little character development. The melee acting is very fun, crank up your volume and swing. The weapons do fall apart which is a nice touch, but some weapon like the crowbar fall apart way to quickly. Its like really three enemies killed and the crow bar is almost broken? The NPC's do get kinda annoying, and like most games they always ask for help and they have you do all the work. Now i know that i am being picky, but this game is 40 plus hours long. There is a lot of repetition in missions like the collect 5 "whatever" for so and so.
This game is like borderlands mixed with fallout(1,2,3,new vages) and left 4 dead. Its worth the money but i will be waiting several months for my next play through.
All in all i would give it a 8/10
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on April 8, 2012
Good storyline. Great Ambience. Combat feels good, and zombies can pop and give you a jolt. of excitement. I found myself occasionally darting left and right in my chair to avoid attack.

4 characters to choose from. Self Centered Jock that's the throwing specialist. Former Cop, now bodyguard, who's the firearms specialist. Hotel employee who is also the martial artist and blade specialist. Rounded out with Sam B., the rapper who sings in the intro video, loner turned teamplayer, who's a pro wtih blunt weapons. You pick up a teenage girl along the way, who mostly just carries your gear, and acts as the moral compass/ plot device of the group.

What you'll love about weapons:
Huge variety and weapon mods that make them do cool stuff. Flaming baseball bat that sets foe on fire, Poisoned blades, molitov cocktails, deoderant can bombs, Meat bombs that draw zombies away from you, etc..
You can throw pretty much anything you can wield.
What you won't love about weapons:
Repairing them, fairly often, or just dumping them an picking up new weapons you find along the way. The game basically forces you to carry multiple weapons and rotate through them while on missions. You can't just relly on one UBER weapons. You'll need to carry a mix and use them intellegently.
Guns are pretty weak against zombies:
Melee weapons are where it's it in this game for zombie killing. While a single good headshot with any gun is enough to take out a human, you'll find yourself emptying a clip of bullets from your pistol to drop a lowly walker. The Shotgun can decaptitate a zombie, but you'll most often find pistol and rifle ammo.

Side missions are often repeatable, and don't advance the story line.
Story Arc missions advance the story line, and have much better XP rewards.

Characters can advance to level 50, but all the foes in the game scale to your level, so there is nothing preventing you from finishing the storyline well before that.

The Zones all feel different. The Resort, The City, Sewers, The Jungle, the Lab, and the prison look and play differently.
The Resort has lots of dead bodies that will pop up and attack you, often catching you off guard.
The City has armed Humans, and monstrous sized zombies that nearly impossible to kill from in front.
The Jungle has more human threats than zombie. You'll need to get a handle on Gun play at this point. Fast moving zombie "butchers" are a new threat here
Sewers have threats lurking around every corner, and bloated disgusting zombies that spew on you.
The Lab has you driving through zombie infested narrow roads, with every zombie type imaginable hanging around.
The Prison is the final zone of the game, no going back once you've made it inside the prison. Let's just say it's ahrder to kill a zombie when it's fast moving and wearing riot gear...

Is it perfect ? No.
*Jumping is enemic.
*Autoequip is annoying. If you hold the pickup key for longer than a split second you autoequip whatever it was you were picking up. Try fighting off a zombie that pops up on you while your raiding a bar and all of a sudden you character gets drunk because he's slamming back drinks instead of swinging a weapons because the bottle of alcohol auto equiped.
*Weapon degredation happens too rapidly.
*Ammunition limits - you can carry seeming endless ammounts of slavage, you'll use to mod weapons, trade, etc..., but you can only carry 50 pistol ammo, 60 rifle ammo, and 20 shotgun shells. It kind of makes sense from a game balance perspective, but it seems forced when your carying 18 weapons, but hardly any ammo.
*Disappearing weapons - you'll occastionaly lose a thrown weapons. It just vanishes every now and again. I had one weapon disapear from my inventory the instant I upgraded it. Get killed after throwing a weapon, and it might not be there after you respawn. It's not a major hurlde, just annoying.

Is it well worth $20 ? Heck Yeah !!
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VINE VOICEon February 12, 2012
I just finished Dead Island. I didn't know what to expect, especially with the sheer volume of zombie games we've seen in the past few years. I never play multiplayer, as I don't often enjoy them, and as a middle aged guy, I can't keep up with the younger crowd who are way better than I am. Like most here, I've played hundreds, if not 1000s of game, have a giant game library, and have been a PC gamer for decades (pretty much as long as there've been PCs and PC games I guess)

Setting and levels: Most of the settings were ok, with the resort being my favorite by a long shot. The resort legitimately felt resort like, and had all the right sounds and visuals to make you believe you could be on vacation on a tropical island. Parts of it reminded me of a blend of Far Cry and Far Cry 2 in a wierd way. Personally, I didn't care for the sewers, as it was annoying and extremely repetitive. The city of Moresby was ok, but had some annoying repetitive parts as well. The jungle and Lab were ok though, as was the prison. It did feel as though the developers started out to make an epic, and spent way too much time working on the resort section, that they took some short cuts, especially with the uber annoying sewers.

Enemies: Pretty decent actually. Real zombie fun... silly dead guys running after you all the time. There are some tough boss-ish ones, namely the Rams, but even those can be killed. The Thugs are quite amusing as they are tough to kill, but you can dismember them while they chase you as they are slow... typical video game fare.

Weapons: This is not really a shooter. Its a melee game, that has an occasional gun. As you level up, you get even more interesting blades, mauls, knives, hammers, wrenches, etc. Most are pretty decent, although there are plenty that have no additional value. Like Borderlands, they seem to be randomly generated, which makes for a wide assortment. However, there are only a few that have actual usefulness. Weapon mods are decent, as they are completely based on finding junk around the island to improvise with in order to improve the weapons.

Gameplay: Good and bad. The basics of killing zombies is fun, especially when you can dismember them piece by piece. This is a bit of a button smasher, but also requires timing to make it work well. There is some confusion with the gameplay, as sometimes when the reticle turns red, you can actually wound a zombie, but other times you can't. It made it somewhat frustrating, and even exhausting on occasion. The health system is simply awful, as you need to drink energy drinks and energy bars all the time, just to keep going. There are health packs, but they are far and few between during gameplay, and they can be bought here and there, but it is slow to apply. I got used to getting killed while trying to heal. The save system is so so, as there are no quicksaves, and the checkpoints are oddly spaced.... sometimes close, sometimes dreadfully far apart. This was annoying, and I walked away from the game many times when the save system put me so far back in the game, that I just didn't want to go through it again.

Dead Island is another mutant RGP type game, with leveling, character building, etc. Personally, it was a bit confusing. This was a VERY hard game to learn how to control well. It was easy to play from the start, but it took quite some time to figure out how all the bits and pieces worked. There was no real storage capability, save for one of the NPCs who's sometimes there and sometimes not.

In conclusion, it was pretty clear that the folks who built this game liked Borderlands, Far Cry, Far Cry 2 and and Left 4 Dead. The game is pretty successful, and I did enjoy it for the most part. It was LONG, and I felt as though I definitely got my money's worth, and it even may have replay value for me. I could see playing through again at some point in the future.
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on July 22, 2016
The best way I can sum up Dead Island is that it tries to catch the co-op flavor of games like Borderlands and bring it to a tropical paradise with weapon crafting. But fighting the same hordes over and over again in the hopes of getting that one special component for my ultra-rare weapon build wore out its welcome quickly. The game is much better in co-op, though, and it's still quite easy to join a match; just hope you don't land in a game populated with obnoxious teens more interested in showing off and hacking the game than playing the game.

+ The world is huge. Be glad there are vehicles and fast travel, because there are a lot of places to discover. It's not a true sandbox – it 's a number of large connected areas – but it will take a lot of dedication to complete the list of missions.
+ The graphics are decent and not too stressful. Expect high framerates even if you have a basic gaming rig like I do at the time of writing (A10-6800k + R7 260X).
+ Four different characters to play as, each with their own bonuses and skills. (I played as Purna most of the time because of her firearms bonuses).
+ Crafting is good, adds some unique effects to the weapons and increases damage.
+ The co-op element works well. Very easy to drop in / drop out of games. Leveling happens much faster, and I had no trouble finding other people to play with.
+ Decent characters, if you can ignore side missions and stay focused on them. Thematically Dead Island has a lot of mature elements. It's just cloaked in this B-movie zombies-on-a-tropical-island setting. Jin's story is touching.

- / + Not really a positive or a negative, since your experience may be different, but the player-base I encountered while pugging coop matches was – immature would be a kind description. I encountered one youngster who asked me if I wanted to go join him in Minecraft. Another person was hacking the game, making everyone die repeatedly (it costs in-game money to respawn, so I didn't find it funny at all). And another player was constantly begging for attention: “Look! Hey, look! I can punch zombies! Look at the size of my fists! Did you see that? Hey, look!” If you have a group of friends you want to play with, you'll have a much better co-op experience than I did.

- Despite the decent story and some good characters, there is very little time is spent with these characters; take time to do plenty of side-quests, and any sympathy built for any of them will have gone by the time we return to the main quests. Don't do the side quests, then; but the risk is going into an area under-leveled – and trust me, you are in for a frustrating time if that happens.
- The combat gets boring after the first few hours. Guns only work well against human targets, not zombies. Melee weapons and throwables are for zombies. Run up to an enemy, hack their arms or legs off, dodge a few incoming blows, kick to stagger, kill, rinse, repeat. And enemies respawn REALLY fast, so get what you want from an area quickly, or you'll have to do it all over again. What a chore. By Act IV I just didn't feel like fighting anymore; fortunately you can just run by the enemies in the final levels (a few will chase you, but those can be dealt with easily).
- Weapons decay FAST. Stay on the lookout for workbenches to repair your weapons (especially blade weapons), because they'll fall apart in your hands in the middle of a fight with a “weapon broken” message (you don't lose the weapon; it just sits in your inventory until you drop it or repair it).
- Finding materials to craft is a pain in the ass. Even if you loot every single corpse or house that crosses your path, you'll frequently be short of materials. Much better to join a co-op game in the hope of finding someone to trade with.
- The quests are repetitive. “Get 5 cans of food” “Find parts for the generator” “My friend / wife / husband / father / mother was infected, they had a memento / letter that I'd like to have back, can you help?” “Get 5 cans of food”
- Maybe because the missions all feel the same after a while, I stopped caring. I rescue this one guy who is trapped in a bungalow with zombies beating on the door. Down the street is a gas station. I rescue him, he opens the door and says, “Thanks mate. You saved my life. But I really need gas for the generator. Think you can help me out?” And I'm thinking, “The gas station is literally right there. Get your own gas.” Main story missions are a bit better, but even those suffer from an over-use of escort missions.

Dead Island makes a great first impression with its beautiful island paradise and aggressive zombies, but the copy-paste missions, same-y combat and rapid weapon decay left me feeling annoyed and ready to move on to something else.
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on November 16, 2013
A buggy mess for sure. Yes, they have patched it but it could have been so much better. Honestly I gave the game 5 attempts and finaly deleted it. Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 are far, fat better than thsi mess.
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