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Customer Review

244 of 284 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Trouble in Paradise, September 13, 2011
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dead Island - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
DEAD ISLAND is not the game I thought it would be. Not even close. I think after the infamous teaser trailer, I pretty much got it in my head that the game would end up being a really "meaningful" zombie experience. All the themes of a really good zombie flick spread out over the canvas of an open world video game. Desperation, survival, and banding together to keep the horde at bay. A game with a great story, a lot of opportunities to explore, memorable characters. I don't know, I was really hoping for the moon.

But the opening moments of the game have you waking up from a bad night of partying and running around a zombified island resort at the behest of "The Voice," all the while collecting teddy bears, champagne, etc. All of this done for a group of quest-givers who seem to believe self-sufficiency is taboo. All the while, people are referring to you as if you were more than one person, as though the developers were outright opposed to making a game that allows for a seamless singleplayer experience. No, DEAD ISLAND is all over the place in terms of what it does well, what it is, and what it's trying to be.

Despite all of that, it does indeed do some things very well, but I'm gonna go over the bad stuff first.

Disappointingly, there's not much of a story here. In the beginning, what appears to be a struggle to escape the infected island of Banoi quickly tailspins into a convoluted mess of sidequests involving everything, from the aforementioned teddy bears to delivering supplies to arranging luggage into a giant "HELP" sign on the beachhead. There's a lot going on in this game and not a lot of it's connected to the whole escape-the-island plan. I'll be darned if your character won't be the most unfocused survivor on the island.

That's not to say that the sidequests aren't fun or interesting from time to time, but in an RPG (especially a zombie RPG) you can't help but find yourself wondering, "What would I do in this situation?" Would I make a run out to an abandoned gas station to bring back food for my fellow survivors? Probably. Would I fight off a zombie horde to reclaim a teddy bear? Probably/definitely not. It's a funny quest, and there's certainly room in this game for good humor, but there are many, many quests that seem so out of the realm of possibility that I had to stop myself a few times and question, "Why am I doing this?" Why do these quest-givers seem so indifferent about sending me out into Zombieland so many times for odd little reasons?

But then again, DEAD ISLAND is not trying to be FALLOUT or OBLIVION; unfortunately, it's trying to be BORDERLANDS. That is to say, the entire game is built around its co-op mode, to the point that all four selectable characters will pop up in all of the cutscenes regardless of who you choose to play. NPCs will constantly refer to you as though you're in a group and you may be constantly hit with notices that pop up when you're playing in the same area as someone else online. Now, I love BORDERLANDS, but it's tough to play games that generally feel less-than-whole if you don't have a buddy to play with right then and there. I would have greatly preferred the game to have a strong singleplayer element with co-op as an option.

You might also notice that if you do choose to play a solo game, DEAD ISLAND will not show you any mercy just because you don't have backup. I can't believe I'm saying this, but there were too many zombies in this game. Running around the different parts of Banoi quickly becomes a chore when different quests have you crisscrossing through veritable walls of the undead. This wouldn't be so much of a problem if the zombies didn't respawn as soon as you leave the area, but as it stands, you might just fight the same group of undead several times as you sprint from quest to guest-giver and back again.

Having zombies absolutely everywhere makes exploration seem unappealing, which is very, very disappointing, since developer Techland made sure there was no shortage of places to seek out and loot. But in my case, the thought of tackling additional walls of zombies on top of what I was already dealing with in the main storyline was very off-putting. (My stats say I killed over 1000 of one type of zombie during my first, semi-rushed playthrough.) I thought that maybe once I got up there in levels, going back and poking around all the places I missed wouldn't be such a bad idea, but that was quickly shot down. I'm not sure why this is becoming a trend among most RPGs these days, but I don't find it very fun when the enemies' level scales to your own. So going back to places where you'd just fought 4th level zombies, you will now find 20th or 30th level zombies, depending on your own level.

I can absolutely understand enemies getting more difficult to kill as the story goes on, but I can't for the life of me figure out why everything else has to progress with you. So we end up with an RPG where progression and improvement amounts to just barely keeping your head above the water.

So where does that leave us? Well, taking into account the many graphical glitches and the odd quest bug you're likely to run into, I would put the game at around 3.5 stars as an objective rating. Definitely do some research and see if this co-op-centric game is what you were expecting. But personally, despite all of that, I did have a really good time, because DEAD ISLAND is a very big step in the right direction in terms of the zombie game of my dreams.

Banoi, for all its social imperfections, is an absolutely gorgeous place. Walking outside for the first time edged very close to that OBLIVION or FALLOUT moment, when the whole world (island) is in front of you, and there are so many possibilities. Everything is just so competently designed. The beach resort feels like a place you'd want to visit, the town feels lived-in, and the inland jungle is easy to get lost in (literally and figuratively). It's all very top-notch, so much so that I was hoping for a lull in the attacks so I could do some decent exploring, but that kinda gets derailed by the "Infected" class of zombie, which spawns in packs only a few yards away from you, no matter where you are.

And even though the quests can run the gamut, there were many that were well thought-out and written, and some that completely capitalized on the post-apocalyptic setting. (Who wouldn't want to ride around in a reinforced armored car or run around abandoned shops?)

DEAD ISLAND was a rollercoaster ride of post-apocalyptic wish-fulfillment, amazing visuals, and wasted potential. What could've been the OBLIVION of zombie RPGs ended up being the BORDERLANDS of zombie RPGs, where the story and gameplay all show signs of being compromised in order to make co-op the absolute focus. But even with that working against it, this game is still one of the best zombie titles out there. It's not quite the zombie game I've always wanted, but it's certainly gotten closer than anything else on the market.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 26 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 20, 2011 7:12:18 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 20, 2011 7:15:45 PM PDT
LMN22 says:
I agree with your review. I feel that left 4 dead is a better game and i should have not bought this game at full retail...what a waste! Also one last thing when playing co-op, the leader only gets credit for the side quests and not the rest of the group. To me this is not true co-op and why bother playing co-op when you have to go back and play the game by yourself to get credit for missions and quests already played...

Posted on Sep 25, 2011 9:32:44 AM PDT
I don't understand what RPGs you're playing that DON'T have leveling characters as you progress in level. How would you expect to get XP to level up more?

I found this review to be unfair, except for the explinations on the quests. Some of them were silly, but good for humor.

For the most part it's excellent, and OF COURSE the levels are going to fluctuate as you do. It's supposed to get harder as you keep playing, and it's meant to be co-op.

Posted on Sep 25, 2011 11:30:27 PM PDT
Armando says:
Hello there, i found you'r review really well spoken. I bought borderlands with the hope it would be Mad Max and Fall Out 3 blended and taken to the next level. I agree that Borderlands was constructed mainly for a co-op experience, which i used to my advantage with friends. The problem is that i found Borderlands to be very bland, with level progression, you come to find that your re-encoutering the same enemies and or scenarios every so often but with new colors. This was very off-putting and un original. Returning to places where you where a lower level and seeing the enemies stronger and just a couple of levels under you was discouraging, it gives you the "barely keeping your head above water feeling" you talked about, because of this and the un original repetitiveness, Borderlands was a very big disappointment after having waited over two years for it (hopefully Rage will be the follow up to Fall Out 3 everyone's been waiting for).

Dead Island, well yes, i share your feelings. With the unacceptable percentage of bugs it has, and the Hollywood sucker punch that is the Teaser Trailer invoking the feelings of a seriously heart wrenching story that we later come to find is as meager and washed out as that of a title like Left 4 Dead (another big disappointment, and an arcade/desktop automatic gunfire shooting spree game), with the incorporation of ambiguous issues of zombie locations (they shouldn't be everywhere) , zombie re-spawning cycles, and the lack of a complete singular campaign driven story, this settles down to be average amongst average in attempts to be a zombie apocalypse entry in the game world. And i say this without even having played the game one minute. Thats right, not even a second either.

I had a suspicion this game would be majorly displaced in accordance to the type of picture the trailer had showcased with the lack of marketing it was receiving pre launch, and the un interesting gameplay on you tube . When i couldn't order the Limited edition from gamestop, i decided not to order and wait for a price drop. In the mean time, having read reviews, seen gameplay, and personally hear out some friends that have the game, iv'e decided to hold off even longer for a new version of the disc to be shipped out because of games like Gears of War 3 and Rage coming out. I find this game a disappointment largely because of two reasons.

1. Poor Campaign Structure= the game could have very well focused on a singular story, with a singular character, this narrows down the games essence, giving the character a motivation to progress through the game, and even reasons to want to explore the island but still keeping the exploration and side quests/ missions as an OPTION to pursue RPG development. I find it insane, if you where in a situation like this to be running around doing ridiculous favors for people as if it was an ordinary day's walk in the park. This is a Zombie Apocalypse game here, don't Bull SNITCH ME. Make the game tactical, risky for the right reasons, rewarding for taking risks, and immersive story, give us reasons to want to keep playing. I don't want a generic, watered down, or ambiguous experience from a campaign or story mode, not everyone will play with four player all the time, make it practical, the story and the cutscenes, and adjust for the circumstances.

2.Un-engaging Ambiguous, yes iv'e said this above, but this is the center of the issue. All three friends have not finished one play through of Dead Island, and have already moved onto Gears of War 3. I know that the campaign completion rate average is around 30-40% but it will be unlikely my friends will complete DI with the onslaught of game titles coming this fall. I guess this is not a surprise after seeing that this game is best fit for a desktop experience type game. This should have been the order of importance: 1. try and find a way to get the hell off the island. 2. explore to make 1. happen, and to further resources. 3. keep side missions to a minimum, my priority is getting the hell of the island or to safety, not finding miscellaneous items for people. and thats that, but then again, that would be the perfect zombie game formula, no one has caught on yet. Fight to survive, explore for resources, find those that want to join your cause, and avoid the psychos who don't, have a clear mission to get out of dodge, have some underlying personal character motivations and there you go.

good night.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 26, 2011 12:45:02 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 26, 2011 12:46:01 AM PDT
@Entertainment Connoisseur

I think I mentioned that in my review. I'm not opposed to enemies getting more and more difficult as the story progresses, but it seems counter-intuitive to make an RPG where *everything* in the game gets stronger along with you. What's the point of putting all of that hard work into making your character more powerful if, technically, you never actually get any more powerful than you were in the beginning? Oblivion did this, and they actually ended up changing it in time for Fallout 3. (Skyrim won't have it either, thankfully.)

It's just a matter of personal preference, I guess. I like there to be a challenge when I progress, but if I go back to the beginning of the game, I'd like to see that the enemies are still at the same level as when I left them. That makes it more fun for me.

Sorry you thought the review was unfair, but my opinion hasn't changed much. I liked the game, but it was just really uneven to me.

Posted on Sep 27, 2011 11:28:00 AM PDT
Dan Avera says:
So, this is probably the best Amazon review I've ever read. Thanks for being so detailed. I was thinking about getting this game, but now I think I'll abstain. Maybe when it comes down to $29.99 I'll try it out, but everything you said was wrong with this game is everything that I was hoping they'd get right. *Sigh* Oh well.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 28, 2011 7:18:42 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Dec 30, 2011 12:08:09 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 9, 2011 6:14:01 PM PDT
W. Newberry says:
Fair and Balanced review , although I clearly killed way over 53,000 zombies in L4D

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2011 6:48:27 AM PDT
Very fair review. I wasn't too crazy about the game. It felt very...I dunno, unpolished. And in some cases illogical. One really minor, stupid little thing bugged the hell out of me: Currency. Banoi has been plagued with zombies. People are terrified, trying to survive, etc. etc...yet commerce is still vibrant? To have to buy things like bottled water you find on a bench just seemed so badly placed in a game like this.

Posted on Nov 1, 2011 4:58:53 AM PDT
Nadine says:
To Armando,
If you want Mad Max/Fallout3, get RAGE. It's exactly that.

Posted on Nov 1, 2011 5:16:01 AM PDT
Nadine says:
To this review -
I think the story here is SURVIVING on a Zombie infested Island. To be fair, I don't think it really has to have a deep RPG story going altho they could have gone that way.
You're correct w/ the "too many zombies" on campaign/solo !!! Warning to anyone, by the time you hit Level 9, good luck!!! I'd highly suggest in your "skill" menu, picking decreased amount of money lost upon dying.
I was also hoping for more missions w/ other characters with me, but up to the point I played (renting), no such luck.
It was mostly being all alone, doing errands for everyone I came in contact with. Some of it's funny & has odd twists lol - I enjoyed that.

Weapons degrade too quickly for my taste. You can only use it like 3 or 4 times before it needs upgrading which costs more $$. That's one other thing that was a negative in my book.

My strategy at the beginning when there are less zombies is to use Kick to take them out - saved $$ since Kicks are free lol. (jump & kick especially - more damage).

It's also a very long game w/ high replay value imo.

It's a good, challenging Zombie game. If you're into carnage, creepiness/fear & fun, it's a good purchase. If you're more into RPG & don't like horror stuff, skip it.

I'm expecting that Dead Island 2 will nail it and be more of what we want.
I'm buying this after Christmas.
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