For most, Banoi is hell on Earth – for me it's paradise as I want to wallop zombies in more ways than one.
Actual score: 8.9
Welcome to Papua New Guinea (PNG) – the new tropical paradise on Earth where the rich can show off their latest tan, sipping martinis among crystal blue waters with pristine white sands. Well, that's what it suppose to be as for starters, PNG is not exactly known for its stable government, has wild jungles and AIDs rampaging. And let's not forget now that the tourists are simply zombies. Well, one can say this is not in the brochure – for me though, this is paradise as I want to wallop zombies in more ways than one without any time limits and sudden respawning.
So you start off playing one of the four derelicts of society – well that's a matter of one's opinion I guess. You can choose from a blunt weapon specialist (Sam B) / a gun 'man handler' (Purna) / sword master (Xian Mei) or throw anything that you can get your grubby hands on (Logan). I choose the 'throw anything' dude – Logan; as I normally play characters that bash heads. As it turns out, I really enjoyed playing Logan as he is a throwing weapon frenzy apparatus and on many occasions, loose them as well (more on that later on).
And in I go, ready to cause zombie holocaust – well that ended rather quickly as I died roughly three minutes into the game and I learned lesson one very fast – get a weapon fast and don't throw it yet as if you do, punching four feeding frenzy zombies whilst exhausting all your stamina reserves is practically signing an early funeral. And to top things off, weapons do easily break. Once that's done by running like hell, you wake up by a life guard spoken in a poor Australian accent. From here on in, it's all about escaping the island…well for me it's about bashing the hell out of those zombies as zombies are meant to be punished for being a zombie – simple philosophy don't you think.
Dead Island game play is certainly melee concentrated viewed in first person. There are also gun play however ammo are quite hard to get. There are also RPG elements to tailor your game play style as each character has three skill trees. Yet all of them have a frenzy tree where if you clobber enough zombies, the frenzy meter will fill up and once full, you'll become the ultimate killing machine. For me, I only used one skill point on this tree as I prefer just to crack open zombie's bodies and drink their juices…or kick them up the rear end then throw my machete in the back of their heads just because I can.
And boy, man handling zombies hasn't been so much fun. Actually I never had this much fun since Dawn of the Dead (2005) as most zombie games are simply shoot and move on, or have some time limit build in. Here in Dead Island is a open world zombie pleasure zone where you can drive your jeep, run over a couple of zombies along the way to the beach, take a quick dip in the blue waters, drinking the various beverages to heal yourself (or eat a chocolate bar or two), dry yourself up, throw your axe at a couple of zombies that trying to get into your jeep then do a little window shopping at Port Moresby.
Of course, there are some zombies that's doing some shopping too so introduce them your newly made molotov cocktail, throw a petrol canister at them as well so they tumble over then shoot the canister so you can roast up your kebab. Or drive to the jungle, explore its natural and diverse flora, drown a couple of zombies in the process or kick em over a cliff to test out your theory whether zombies can fly. So if this is not paradise then you got something wrong with you. And if you are a little savvy, you can also locate schematics to upgrade your weapon to your liking like the ripper for instance; which is a whirling blade attached to a baseball bat; or a powered up cleaver – full of electrical goodness.
As much pleasure I get man handling zombies, there are also some down falls. My biggest grip is you can easily loose your weapon. Granted that a hand icon appears indicating 'pick me up here' however I lost many due to graphical errors. For instance, there is a zombie called the suicider – basically it's a bloated mess of humanity that explodes willingly. I threw my beloved ninja sword at it and of course it explodes. And because it explodes, my sword simply disappeared. This also happened when I threw my cane knife at a zombie's head only for the head to burst along with my knife. You win some; you loose some I guess.
Yet the entire visuals, even though pretty impressive to see with light reflections, swaying trees and so forth, the bloom effects are a little too much for my liking. I never been to PNG however I don't think the bloom effects are that dramatic that it almost blinds you. Also the facial expressions on every character are either stiff or have that 'eyes popping out' look. Ah what the heck as those heads will soon be decapitated by me anyways.
The sound quality is not too bad either. In the jungle, you'll get to hear those chirping crickets and the occasional screams of some creature. Sometimes you even get to hear a baboon shrieking, mistakenly understood of being some zombie. In Port Moresby you'll hear among the shrieks, smashing glass and whatever else and the beach scene produces pleasant ocean swirls. Basically the ambience sounds are quite well done. The voice acting unfortunately is no so well done. I'm Australian and I can tell you those are not Australian accents however I will credit the character Purna as she does sound somewhat reasonable.
By exploring the entire island it took me just shy of 90hrs to complete the game. That's including locating 92 / 100 ID tags, found all the tapes and missed only five newspaper articles. Whilst locating those ID tags are worthless, the newspaper articles are worthwhile collectables as it tells a little history of PNG (and if you read between the lines, hints of what actually happened to PNG). My personal favourite are those voice recording tapes – collect all thirteen as they are worthwhile. Of course there are plenty of achievements to unlock so you are going to get good value for your dollar.
And if that doesn't wet your whistle, the game features a great drop in / drop out coop mode up to four players. If you select your game to be visible, the game is clever enough to spot another player if you happen to be in close proximity. Then it's just a matter of pressing the acquired hotkey ('J' for me) and voila, you got a team mate.
Whilst zombie killing are starting to get saturated, for me I was really bored of the 'high profile' games like Left 4 Dead or those Call of Duty zombie killing modes. Zombies in my eyes are meant to be punished, not shot at. They meant to be destroyed in the most brutal of fashion because they are zombies…mindless freaks. Dead Island has done just that as you can slice, dice, smash, crush, burn, drown, run over, poison, decapitate, light em, kick, explode, punch and if you want, say hi to them; it's all of a matter of how creative you are raking up those kills.