222 of 234 people found the following review helpful
It's not a game, it's a survival simulator.,
This review is from: Dead Island - Playstation 3 (Video Game)
Small Disclaimer: I have not yet finished the game but feel I have experienced it enough to give an accurate description of mechanics, atmosphere etc. There are no spoilers in this review. If me reviewing the game before completing is a problem for you then please stop reading here.
It's truly difficult to talk about Dead Island and do it any justice. This is an experience, one that each player will make unique for his or herself. I can't tell you how sprinting away from a horde of infected and listening to them screaming in rage as they give chase makes you feel. Or locking yourself in a bungalow, frantically searching for a couple of energy drinks just so you can descend a little further into the nightmare that is Dead Island.
It's those moments that make it so hard to describe. It's amazing how much this game changed me in the nine straight hours I played last night. The minute I was unleashed onto the breathtakingly beautiful Island Resort with only a paddle in hand I thought I had this game figured. At first I ran into every encounter headfirst, merrily swinging my paddle around like a manic zombie slayer. After being torn to shreds several times I rethought my strategy. I became a survivor. The enemies in this game are dangerous and relentless and melee combat is brutal and unforgiving. I will now avoid large mobs if I can and when I can't I am using my head and searching for a way out while trying to keep the zombies in front of me. I am no longer trying to rack up my kill combo; I am fighting to stay alive.
I could draw many comparisons on this game comparing it to the likes of fallout, borderlands, resident evil, dead rising, left 4 dead etc. But tons of other, better reviews have already done that and yes I will concede it does take things from all of those titles but the game itself is completely original for one big reason. It's the feelings you have when playing this game. Never in my life have I ever felt so much dread in rounding a corner praying I don't walk into a group of the infected. Then the sense of complete and utter hopelessness when I do, you back yourself into a corner and get ready to fight with whatever you have on hand and the sense of grim victory when you finally win the hard earned battle. Yes this game takes parts from all those games, but this isn't a game, this is an experience and I urge you to go in with that in mind. Now lets delve into what makes this game good and not so good:
The combat is what truly makes this game shine. You aren't a super hero or a generic soldier; you are an average person thrown into something bigger than his or herself. The infected will show you no mercy. If you are mobbed with them then you are as good as dead. If you run in swinging your stamina will deplete quickly and you will be left defenseless and you again, will die. You must be methodical in combat, use any advantage you can find. This game will not hold your hand, if you are outnumbered then you need to find the upper hand or flee.
The combat is gritty, realistic and satisfying. I feel like a human when I am fighting. If I am mobbed then I don't have a chance in landing a blow, being off balance makes you feel powerless and defenseless and rightfully so. But if I stay just out of reach by using tight alleys, obstacles and backing away I might get out of the battle alive.
Each infected reacts differently when struck; I might break a zombies arm sending it stumbling back into the rest of them buying me a moment or two to replenish lost stamina. I did this a couple of times and thought I had found a winning formula for the rest of the games mobs. The next battle I found myself in I broke the zombies arm only to have it lash out with the ruined limb and send me stumbling back allowing the rest of the creatures to move in for the kill. And kill me they did all because I got too complacent.
Now every time I walk into a fight I don't know what the outcome will be but I have learned to be careful. It's this that makes the game so exciting and engaging. I have never experienced such a savage glee smashing a zombies head only for it to cut into slow motion to show me the creature spinning through the air after a hard fought battle.
I'm giving these guys a category all of their own because they are so well done. They all look unique, you will never see the same creature in a mob and it really lends to the immersion of the game. I like how in the resort you will be fighting bikini clad beasts but the further you venture into the town you will find them sporting work clothes and gang wear. It again adds to the immersion.
The zombies aren't just eye candy they are also believable. In the combat section I wrote how well they reacted to me, but they also interact with the world in cool ways. Driving by zombies you will see them eating their fallen victims. You will see them pounding on survivor's doors trying to gain entry or skulk around aimlessly waiting for their next victim. If you are driving they will give chase to your vehicle and try to knock it off the road. All of this again makes me feel so much more immersed in this world. Instead of them standing around idly waiting for you to walk by they are active in their world.
In combat they are savage and ruthless and are really a terrifying foe to do battle with. From the generic walkers to the sub boss character each infected feels challenging and scary. Something I really appreciate in this title.
The rest of the game play feels like an action RPG. You kill zombies for exp which makes you a better zombie killer. There are some surprising skills one skill I particularly enjoy is when my character is drunk he becomes twice as powerful. There are four character templates to pick out and each have their own unique skill and look, but there are so many skills to choose from you will have a character completely unique to your play style. The zombies also level with you as you level meaning the only thing keeping them at bay is your weapons and skill choices. I liked the leveling because it keeps the game feeling challenging the whole way through but doesn't stunt your sense of progression either.
You collect weapons rated a colour based system White for trash to purple for legendary. This is one of the best parts, there's nothing better than finding a rare machete, the hunt is addictive and it's exciting never knowing what you will find.
Driving is actually really nice and a convenient way to get from point a to point b. It's not perfect though as you can't look out your back window making reversing while surrounded by the undead pretty tough.
There are some pretty cool ways to interact with the world, if you attempt to breach a barricaded door you will need to use brute force to open it. It's dealt with in a cool little mini game where your character tries to use his or her shoulder to break the door down and you are more successful the closer you are to the middle. It might not sound like much but try frantically entering a building like this while the infected are hot on your tail. You will also break down computers take apart vehicles and raid any container you can find in search of items to craft with. Speaking of crafting...
The weapons you find are great and all a machete will take off limbs and heads with ease but how about an electric machete? Or a flaming baseball bat? This is where it feels the most like Dead Rising you will find crafting supplies around the island and so long as you have the blueprints can modify your weapon to your liking. It's easy and worthwhile.
I wasn't too excited about crafting but it feels pretty realistic and makes the weapons look great. The effects are brilliant too, every time I score a critical hit on a zombie with my electrified machete he becomes a conductor and spreads it to all of his zombie pals wreaking havok on an entire mob!
Quests & Story:
I find the story very interesting so far, you are immune from the infection and so become the errand boy for several survivors camps. On the surface it's nothing but fetch quests, but it's not as simple as kill X amount of zombies for reward. Instead one quest may see you driving to a nearby gas station and frantically trying to fill up tanks of gas and fend of zombies in the process. The reason? to burn the infected the camp has killed so as to not attract more with the smell. Another quest has you reinforcing a car to make a daring run deeper into town to find more survivors and supplies, or building a help sign out of discarded luggage that can be seen from the air. The quests really make you feel like a survivor in a zombie outbreak they are realistic and enjoyable and I have yet to become bored by them.
There are a ton of side quests to be done and two out of the three above quests mentioned are actually side quests. They are fun and original and really help boost your XP.
The games graphics are rich and varied and adds to the atmosphere of the game. From the lush tropical beaches spotted with long abandoned beach towels and sand castles to the deadly silent streets with overturned trash cans and wrecked cars everything is rendered beautifully and lends to the atmosphere.
The music is surprisingly melancholy and lends to the sense of hopelessness you feel when traversing the island. The sounds the zombies make are terrifying they will let out a scream when they spot you that chill the spine. Each creature sounds unique and terrifying.
How is combat both in the pros and cons list you ask? Well as amazing at it is it is not without its flaws. There has been more than a few times where my attacks fail to register or the attack button becomes unresponsive. Throwing weapons while a great way to keep the zombies far from you is not without it's problems. In the heat of battle I would have to stop swinging my weapon, hold down my throw button for a couple of seconds until the reticule showed up and then throw. It broke the flow of combat and felt clunky and out of place. I would use it when starting a battle, just be sure you don't throw your favourite weapon!
The degradation of weapons is really cool and all and it lends to that same sense of fear that's prevalent through my whole game. There is nothing worse than getting attacked when your baseball bat's ready to fall apart. The only problem I had with it is that it's too fast, that legendary weapon I had? It's awesome but after a few run ins with the undead it's nothing but a hunk of junk. That wouldn't be such a problem but because it's a legendary weapon, it costs a lot of cash to repair as opposed to a regular weapon which makes using those awesome, kickass weapons feel prohibitive because I just don't have the funds to keep up with the cost of maintaining them.
That cool mini game I mentioned up above are good and all but there are so many missed opportunities to break up the monotony. Lock picking for instance is only a skill if you don't have the necessary skill to pick a lock you can't. If you level up it opens like any other container. That's it. There are a multitude of tasks that require you to just hold down a button, something that makes the game a bit dull.
Some of the accents are just really bad. Some are fine but none are spectacular.
I had a couple of issues with sounds where it will cut out altogether for a few seconds, not a big deal until the zombie you didn't hear screaming is now chewing on your face.
When I found my first gun eight hours in I thought the game would be easy. It's not, Zombies soak up bullets like you wouldn't believe and ammo is scarce. The reasons it's in the cons is because when fighting humans they dive in and out of cover and I can't. I have only my crouch button and in a game made for melee combat that's fine but when in a gunfight it's irritating. You get used to it, it just feels like an overlooked aspect of the game. Aiming feels off too, I haven't poured any skill points into firearms though so that could be the problem. Thankfully you don't rely on guns too heavily. They are useful for thugs though ;)
I don't know if this is a pro or a con but when you die you respawn a few feet away from where you fell and lose a bit of money and exp. Your health is filled up and you're ready to go again. The thing is, despite the lack of punishment for death I still fought to stay alive and dreaded walking into a fight with only a few bars left, so it doesn't break the immersion.
I'm not placing this in the pro's or con's because I have yet to get a chance to play it, it seems the servers were overloaded on release day. Looks good though :P
For a game coming so late to the zombie party and using techniques that many games have used to a better degree this is a standout title. It feels fresh and original in an over saturated genre and the experience of true survival horror you will feel while playing this game is unparalleled to anything I have ever experienced before.
This game is huge and varied and a delight to play. It will be filled with a ton of awesome water-cooler moments, the experience you have will differ greatly from mine but you will have an experience I guarantee you that.
This deserves 4 out of 5 but I'm going to be generous and give it a 5/5. For a low budget title such as this the list a gripes are nothing compared to the hours of fun you will have playing this stellar title.
If you want to slay some zombies with me when online is up add me: tastyhobo
Thank you for reading!
Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-10 of 34 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 8, 2011 11:53:18 AM PDT
Amazon Customer says:
Great review. Very informative. Your review just made my decision to pick up this game. Thanks.
Posted on Sep 8, 2011 12:53:42 PM PDT
James W. says:
What a great review! As a zombie fan, I had already made the decision to pick this up eventually...after reading your review, I can hardly wait to get it.
Posted on Sep 8, 2011 2:11:30 PM PDT
Joseph Marzano says:
very good review, thank you
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 8, 2011 2:29:15 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 8, 2011 2:29:28 PM PDT
Stewart Crawford says:
Thanks guys, glad I could help make the decision. Enjoy it, it's a fantastic experience :)
Posted on Sep 8, 2011 4:22:10 PM PDT
very insightful, I have gamefly and got this game on release date (very happy about that) I've played maybe 2 hours I am now level 7 Sam B, I don't have much time to play the game as I would like but it is in fact a very very very solid game although I must point out, they need to iron out the co-op matchmaking a bit since I've been having issues joining other people's games, I wouldn't mind a couple of zombie killing partners that actually follow ME to do quests instead of just running around digging for stuff (although that is fun also, I still want to get through some part of the game to explore NEW areas) I love this game, I play on the ps3, zombies make me jump pretty much everytime they are right behind me ready to bite my neck, its very exciting, I can't play it by myself as I'm too scared, no BS, I hate dying in games, so I'd rather have someone there to back me up when I'm getting messed up by a couple infected, please anyone feel free to add me on PSN Xplicit_Jok3steR
Posted on Sep 8, 2011 7:15:49 PM PDT
A. A. Munson says:
Dang man, that's a review! I want you to review all the things I'm considering buying, please. : )
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 8, 2011 8:24:28 PM PDT
Stewart Crawford says:
Well if you are into Dead Island I can only presume you have spectacular taste and anything you buy will be awesome, does that count as a review? :P
Posted on Sep 9, 2011 7:01:40 AM PDT
Jason Demlein says:
Great review...thanks, will be picking up this game
Posted on Sep 10, 2011 11:53:19 AM PDT
Nate Swartz says:
Great review. I'm not sure how old you are but you have some writing skill and may want to explore a career in journalism or journalistic review. Just my two cents...
Posted on Sep 10, 2011 10:04:50 PM PDT
Devin Wallace says:
Well, I was going to type a review myself but instead found myself reading this. I pre-ordered the game from best buy and got Zombieland Blue Ray for free, nice add on to a pretty sweet game. Not sure what I can really touch up on that wasn't up above. I do recommend the game and must say, the above review is one of the longest/detailed reviews I have ever seen.