Dead Island's grisly first-person melee combat lets you bludgeon and dismember your way through a zombie-infested island
Venom_Raptor wrote this review on .
Contains: Strong Language, Twice Very Strong, and Strong Bloody Violence, Horror and Gory Injury Detail
Dead Island is a First-person, open world survival horror adventure with role-playing elements, that is centred on the challenge of survival on a zombie-infested open world island with a major emphasis on melee combat.
STORY - 1/5
The island of Banoi, just off the coast of Papua New Guinea, is a wild and untamed paradise, virtually untouched by modern civilisation. From the lush jungles, to the mountain highlands to the white sandy beaches, Banoi is considered the pearl in the necklace of the Oceania Archipelago. For many, it is heaven on Earth - a place of peace and pristine beauty where travellers can leave the worries and cares of the workaday world behind. But something evil has arrived in paradise, spreading chaos, madness and death. Heaven has become Hell, and for those who still cling to life, there is only one thing left to do: survive.
The plot proves rather irrelevant against the context of things, and if the zombie epidemic concept wasn't clichéd enough, you'll see the reason to the zombie outbreak coming from a mile away, with little in terms of surprising developments or any objectives that haven't been done before. It's safe to say that the story is merely a backdrop to paste an open world slaughterhouse of bloody, first-person carnage, flesh and gore; The script is weak, the characters are rudimentary, and nothing memorable or emotional happens during the story, which is a great disappointment given the hype surrounding that moving, slow motion trailer that captured everyone's attention of Dead Island months before its release. There is also no sensible explanation to why you and the other characters - even if you are playing single player, the other 3 characters are seen in cutscenes - are actually putting your life at risk to help survivors and do various fetch quests for scared people in peril. Just because you and the others are somehow immune to the fast spreading infection, it doesn't seem understandable why you would be okay with getting people what they want for cash and weapons while battling horrifying creatures. Realistically you'd rather be safe in a bunker somewhere, not out in the open attracting attention from the zombified inhabitants and vacationers for a tasty feast. Nevertheless, plot holes don't matter within a story that is second best to the gameplay, but it would have been really enjoyable to have seen a really stirring script filled with exciting twists and turns aswell as emotional occurrences.
CHARACTERS - 2/5
They came to Banoi from all over the world, each for a different reason. They have nothing in common except for their mistakes, regrets and missed opportunities that mark their lives and scar their future. If they are to survive this frightening ordeal, these unlikely heroes must band together and journey into Banoi's heart of darkness. You are given the choice of four different and very unique characters that each level up and progress their own way through a hectic and terrifying experience of trying to get off the island by whatever means necessary.
The characters to choose from are Purna - a former officer of the Sydney Police department; Logan - a former American football star who's ego put an end to his bright future; Sam B - A one-hit-wonder rap star of fading fame; And Xian Mei - an employee at the Royal Palm Resort who was born and raised in China. Their back stories don't come into the story at all, so it's merely for reading purposes prior to choosing one, and each playable survivor can use all weapons, but they can learn to make best use of their own preferred weapon class as well as having their own special moves.
GAMEPLAY - 5/5
The fictional island of Banoi is a lush, tropical paradise in the South Pacific where its flagship Royal Palms Resort serves as the ultimate getaway for vacationers with money to burn. However, all good things must soon come to an end - and the picturesque resort falls into madness, carnage and chaos after a mysterious and contagious zombie outbreak claims its once peaceful atmosphere. From a distance, the island looks like any holiday resort should do - the sun is shining, the sea is calm and the palm trees are swaying gently with the wind. But as you draw closer, you'll realise this is no paradise - sun beds lay unattended at the beach, the swimming pools are stained a deep, blood red, and the undead are feeding on what's left of the living by the beach bar. Blood is everywhere, survivors are nowhere, and suddenly the once idyllic island of Banoi is transformed into hell on Earth, and you are right at the boundaries of Hell's wide open gates.
Choosing a character is the first task you'll have, and each has their own set of abilities, skill trees and preferred weapon class. They also possess unique Fury skills: special abilities fuelled by accumulated Rage. These special moves can turn the tide of battle when you are fighting improbable odds of surviving, but you must use it wisely as Rage lasts only briefly. Sam B specialises in blunt weapons, and when you unleash his fury skill (Haymaker) he goes berserk and smashes everything with his brass knuckles. Xian Mei specialises in sharp weapons, and during her fury (Bloodrage) she calls on all her martial arts training and deals with enemies with lethal precision using her sharp blade. Purna's speciality is a weapon from her past, and when she vents her fury (Guardian) she uses her private sidearm aswell as providing herself and her allies the rare opportunity to regenerate, a powerful boost to repair any damage and other attributes. Lastly, Logan is the Jack of all Trades character and specialises in throwing weapons, and when discharging his gathered Rage with his (Bullseye) fury skill, he turns into a weapon-throwing fiend, incredibly accurate and deadly, taking out several targets at once. No matter which character you pick, the fury of each decimates targets with ease, but doesn't necessarily keep you from harm.
Being part role-playing game, Dead Island incorporates all the essentials that are required to justify the genre tag. First and foremost is character development, where your selected character earns experience by killing enemies and completing objectives, levels up, gains more health, and earns skill points which are used to purchase new abilities and bonuses through the skill trees. There are 3 skill trees available, each containing a different set of enhancements. The first skill tree is Fury, which deals with your character's signature ability, thus making them more efficient and powerful. The second is Combat, where you'll find weapon and combat-related upgrades to specialise in certain weapon types and increase their effectiveness. The last skill tree is Survival, which deals with more universal abilities that can range from aiding yourself in terms of regenerative health benefits, to helping survivors get by on the zombie-infested island. It's a key ingredient to making Dead Island a successful role-playing game aswell as a First-person survival horror one, and gives you plenty of options to pick how you want to upgrade your character and not pushing you down a set path.
Role-playing elements filter into gameplay with a prominent impact on the whole game and the way you play, allowing you to upgrade your character's skill trees how you see fit, and letting you conduct the action and exploration at your own leisure. Even the first-person brawling action is complimented with important RPG elements, by implementing a stamina bar that means after a set amount of swings you'll need to stop and regain your stamina before you can continue. Sprinting and jumping also drains your stamina gauge, and although it refills rather quickly, careful planning must be taken into account when battling many foes at once, since if you keep swinging away, you'll find yourself extremely vulnerable to be jumped on once you need to catch a breather. The melee combat itself is brutal and satisfying, and each hit is landed with resounding impact on the enemies decaying body structure, showing the force of your blow in the form of impressive, graphic injury detail as you batter them to the floor and finish them off in grisly style. Each swing of a weapon is landed with precision, and the punishment you deal out on the undead menace is gratifying each and every time, especially when you crush limbs or dismember body parts, making you feel like an unstoppable hero covered in your enemies blood and guts. With each attack that connects, showing in coloured and numbered form, is the type and amount of damage the attacked zombie is receiving, with other words flashing up nicely to show the significance of your brutal attack and what you achieved. You'll be notified in a very well presented way when you 'BREAK' a limb, 'CUT' off one, or make a 'CRITICAL' strike, and it all just looks extremely appealing, and is done in true, RPG fashion. Modified weapons that induce a slight bit of electrical, toxic or fire damage will show up in the appropriate colour to how much damage you're dishing out, aswell as the suitable colour for if an opponent falls into water and begins to drown. Enemies have levels, health and stamina of their own, and this is shown above them as you get within range so you can see what zombie type your attacker is and the dangerous threat they pose, or even the difficulty to take them out of the equation (their level).
A great asset to combating zombies is your ability to kick, a simple attack that interrupts an enemies lunge, knocks them back slightly, and potentially with enough force to completely decrease their stamina and causing them to hit the deck until it refills. Not only will you be utilising this move frequently in pretty much each scenario that pits you against the undead, but it doesn't require stamina to perform, just timing, making it a vital counterattack move to execute with no drawbacks amidst a frantic fight.
There are 12 inventory slots to let you hold what you need, which can be upgraded through levelling up, and infinite storage space for the collection of many random, useful items that could be of vital use in the near future. Item management is simplistically laid out and looks great, and the other menus that show your character development aswell as a detailed map of the area, are all presented smartly to correspond with the rest of the game's flawless presentation. There is such a wide array of melee weapons to encounter, and many are distinguished apart from each other of the same category by prefix words that label up the tool in a neat way. From 'crippling' baseball bats, to 'disabling' police batons, and even to 'diabolical' military machetes, every weapon is identified in a cool way that gives it different parameters of attributes that also change depending on the level of the weapon. Each weapon has a quality level that categorises it by colour to declare its rarity. White is common, and will be what you'll be finding in weapon caches, lying around on ground, or on dead enemies corpses a lot; Green is uncommon; Blue is rare; Violet is unique, usually giving the weapon advanced attributes that make it a formidable tool to keep with you and keep in good condition; And orange is exceptional, meaning it will be worth a hell of a lot more than the other more common versions aswell as being a one-of-a-kind discovery that may be titled differently so it's extreme uniqueness is recognised more while also having incredible parameters. A great thing about the sheer amount of weapons to unlock and discover is that weapon caches and vendors will be selling weapons out of complete random that is constantly changing when you go back to them, meaning on subsequent playthroughs of the game, your inventory will likely turn out completely different to last time, and you may salvage more valuable weapons depending on your luck, or a type of weapon you previously never go to experiment with. It's a system that pays credible homage, though unintentionally, to Borderlands. And you'll recognise the similarity to the system soon after learning the simple fact of random weapon finds that, upon highlighting over, display the weapon parameters and compare the attributes to your currently equipped weapon utilising simple green and red arrows on the presented item to showcase the decrease or increase on that specific parameter and the number for damage, force, durability and handling respectively.
All weapons (or at least melee) have the following parameters: Damage - this is the damage done directly to a target's health; Force - this reflects the damage to a target's stamina. The higher this parameter, the more likely, or quickly, an enemy will collapse to the floor for an easy approach and finishing blow. Handling - the easier a weapon is to handle, the less stamina it takes to use it; Durability and Condition - Durability defines the maximum number of attacks the weapon can withstand before critically breaking and having a large negative effect on all base attributes aswell as any modified bonuses. The condition is the current state represented by a white bar around the weapon icon. Constantly evaluating a weapon you find against the rest of your inventory is a good way of keeping your arsenal up to date with the levelling of yourself and your enemies, since sooner or later, a weapon you've depended on and cherished in your collection will ultimately prove useless as you progress up a few levels (enemies inevitably doing the same). But fortunately there are options available which may keep a weapon you like greatly with you for even longer if you so desperately wish so.
Collecting, repairing, upgrading and modifying play a key role in the world of Dead Island. While attempting to survive the zombie outbreak, you will need to use everything you can to fight off the attacking hordes of zombies. Maintaining weapons is vital so you don't have to fall back on a less damaging one, and upgrades and modifications are not only statistical in nature by granting a weapon greater damage or longer lasting, but will also be represented graphically in game. Weapons wear out with extensive use and you'll notice after a few smashed in skulls and severed limbs that the weapon is noticeably losing strength, decaying and covered in the blood of your foes, and will soon become broken and useless - but it can also be quite expensive to repair if it's rare or exceptional. Exploring is wear your gear will see great changes for the better… and the bloodier. Searching around while traversing the island and seeking fortune within containers in addition to fending off the hungry zombie menace is what will allow you to buy from traders and work in your favour at workbenches. Cash can be found everywhere since everyone scattered and went into hiding, or more likely, couldn't flee the infection and succumbed to the virus that ravaged a once hospitable place once the contagion struck Banoi, and so suitcases can hold valuable amounts of money aswell as random miscellaneous items (which I'll get to later in this review). With this found loot, your next objective will be to find one of many workbenches located all over the infected paradise. Upgrades can be purchased at these workbenches as simple boosts to a weapon's parameters, and although at the start of the game weapons you find will be basic in nature, there is additional potential to be gained from most of your arsenal. A from-scratch crowbar might be a useful blunt weapon, but upgrading it fully at a workbench awakens its full deadly potential. And this levelled up crowbar, for example, will now much more easily smash in an enemy's skull than its basic counterpart. It's also a good idea to keep in mind what weapons your character is best with as each different character class works best with its own type of weapon. Some people prefer to bludgeon and break body parts, while others may well prefer to make clean cuts and sever off those parts with blood spurting results, and there are even those who will go for guns and old school headshots. These differences are clearly evident in the different character's skill trees, which will give the appropriate weapon class some nice, handy boosts.
The final and perhaps best part about utilising a workbench, is weapon modification, where you can craft a seemingly casual looking melee tool into a savage device to inflict cruel violence which will be self-explanatory very shortly. But it takes time, preparation and specific items to finally turn a sharp machete, for example, into a devastating blade flowing with high voltage currents of electricity, and to modify a weapon you will need the following: A workbench - of course, you have to have a work station in order to make a mod to your weapon, and these special tables are where all the repairing, upgrading and modifying takes place. Craft plan - treat them as a shopping list of such for the materials required to gather for a modification. Without one, you won't be able to do anything. Parts - scattered all over the island and found frequently when looting various containers, these random items will be used and combined together to make your weapons more powerful, thus increasing your chances of survival. Batteries, nails, bleach, circular blades, duct tape and many other miscellaneous bits and bobs will at first glance seem just like things worth selling, but the further inland you plunge, the more you'll begin to understand where their use is needed (and you might just regret selling something uncommon in the spur of the moment for cash and realise later it's a key ingredient to a special modification that won't come cheap). And of course, last but not least, a weapon - something compatible with the craft plan you intend to use. Be sure to put the time into searching the island for items you'll need to make the most out of your weapons, as your efforts will no doubt be rewarded, and the compensation for your troubles will be deemed necessary.
Weapon modification craft plans are rarely found, and mostly earned by completing a quest from a survivor. Not all survivors have these unique parchments declaring instructions of how to transform your weapons into new, deadly forms of entertainment, but every quest that is completed has its reward for your bravery. Cash is a reasonable payment for you risking your life, but some weapons are worth the risk even more. Upon talking to a quest giver they'll give you some basic information on the task ahead, and then you'll be handed a piece of scrappy paper that details the core objective, the difficulty of the mission, the amount of experience points you'll earn upon completing it, and the reward (which also uses the colour scheme as described above to indicate the rarity of the weapon you'll be given, the mod received, or even the potential amount of money you could gain). Fetch quests are common, escort missions are troublesome, but some objectives are actually interesting, develop further upon completing one task, and feature intense amounts of combat that involves a true survival horror element from the first-person perspective. There are so many optional quests throughout the open world, and survivors are desperate for someone to accept the task they have ready, and will gladly pay out handsomely if you succeed.
As you proceed through the main story missions, you'll travel to different parts of the island. The first part of the game takes place around the Hotel Resort and the beach area (personally I think this is the best map), the next part will take place in the derelict, urban city locale, and the final environment to traverse will be in the jungle and swampland part of the Banoi region. The sandbox design is great, and the areas are a decent size for walking distance so to avoid any tedium (not to mention zombies are everywhere to keep you occupied anyway), but also large enough so that you can use a vehicle when available if you want to skip to a destination and enjoy running over zombies rather than proceeding dangerously on foot, adding suspense and tension, and increasing the risk of dying and breaking your weapons. But exploration is crucial, and stopping by a single shack in the middle of nowhere may well prove profitable upon a secret discovery, aswell as possibly finding one of many various collectable items that range from Papua New Guinea facts, to recordings, and even to rare weapons mods.
There will definitely be times when you fall victim to the large amount of zombies pursuing your fresh stench though, but death consequences are generally favourable on you, and you'll spawn no more than several metres away from your grisly demise with the only penalty on dying being that a wad of your cash is withdrawn from your overall amount (10% to be precise). To prevent this daunting scenario, items can be constantly found that are beneficial to boosting your health, usually basic energy drinks or snacks, or sometimes if you are fortunate, medical kits can be acquired to administer a dose of something that profoundly increases your health, and giving you a surviving chance for the ensuing events laid out before you.
Unintentionally collaborating aspects that are strikingly apparent from Borderlands (loot system and weapon randomisation) and Dead Rising 2 (crafting unique and lethal weapons) is by no means negatively derivative, and Dead Island combats the similarities between other games of the zombie and open world genre by handling its own mechanics exceedingly well. The grisly first-person melee combat has never been done so viciously and satisfyingly, and the massive, tropical paradise open world to explore is a rare opportunity to be experienced anywhere else. Guns can be found aswell, but ammo is scarce until later in the game, and every bullet must not be wasted if good fortune is bestowed upon you and you do manage to salvage a functioning handgun amidst a desolate apartment absent from its rightful, human owner. However, melee combat is far more rewardable and satisfying than gunplay, which generally feels weak and actually proves unsuccessful for the most part, especially when engaging in challenging firefights with human foes taking advantage of the epidemic for their own twisted purposes, and with no cover mechanic to help you avoid fire.
Unfortunately, glitches are to be encountered, and the ones that I and others have experienced while playing through this horror action adventure are strange and problematic to say the least. Minor glitches that I experienced in a single playthrough - Certain stairs were a struggle to climb resulting in a trial-and-error combination of running and jumping just to simply get up, Item management can occasionally mess up, weapons can be duplicated to cheat the game and earn more money, and the most controversial of all is the infamously major autosave bug which has had widespread reports and inflicted frustration onto many people including myself. The game has randomly been wiping progression including time played, items collected, missions completed, and character levels gained, putting you back to a part of the game you previously conquered. Developer Techland has indicated that the cause is not yet known, but stated this may be avoided by not connecting the system to a network while playing, and thankfully it's a solution which works, but overall isn't acceptable given the game's long development cycle of over 5 years.
GRAPHICS - 3/5
The quality of the visuals is inconsistent, which is unfortunate, if not, a little anticipated. There are areas of the open world island which stand out with bright, tropical colours mixed with grim, gory imagery, but there are others which appear lacklustre and featureless (usually indoor environments), and the consistently interfering amount of screen tearing and other visual blemishes intrude often enough so that your experience wandering around freely is rarely smooth and glitch-free. Slow-texture loading is also very common, but luckily it only occurs after a load screen transiently. However, Dead Island doesn't succumb negatively to all technical areas of the graphics department, and the framerate and draw distance are surprisingly impressive and hold up very well most of the time.
Probably the most standout and peerless integration to Dead Island is the Multi-layered damage system that shows all kinds of damage inflicted on zombies in real-time after beating them with blunt and edged weapons alike, Detailed injury includes abrasions, tissue damage, flesh and muscle distortion, burn wounds, varied dismemberments, broken bones and all other kinds of graphic injury detail that reflects your attacks with accurate, surgical precision where you can potentially batter a zombie effortlessly until bone is visible. Interesting gameplay element - yes; Disturbing - most definitely! There will be lots of blood and gore to be seen throughout, and what the game does well at is doing a brief slow-motion capture sequence if you make a prolific attack on an enemy, usually when you do a clean decapitation or break a limb to severely wound a target. This highlights the intense violence you are exacting even further, and the game clearly wants you to relish in slaughtering gruesomely at every possible opportunity that arises before you.
SOUND - 4/5
The ambient sounds of a typical paradise locale are evident all around you as you cautiously accommodate to your dangerous surroundings with peril and evil lurking in every direction, and from the sound of waves lapping up against the shore by the sandy beach, to the presence of wildlife within the jungles, it creates a sense of pleasing joy, even though it is invaded and interrupted chillingly with the unnerving sounds of ravenous infected that groan, scream and chew flesh with alarming authenticity to establish horror dramatically into the surround sound and spring the hairs on the back of your neck rigid. Zombie vocal noises are terrific, but the same can't be said for the human voice cast, which are average at best when trying to implement some kind of emotional response to the desperation they feel, but ultimately proving unsuccessful and leaving you unmoved and just interested in the reward to be attained at the end of their sombre request instead.
Sound effects are effective at enforcing the reaction you get after every swing that succeeds in connecting with its target, and even though many weapons begin to sound similar a short way in, the slicing of limbs accompanied with bursts of blood and the hard, bludgeoning impact as a skull crushes or a limb breaks is horrifyingly believable that makes using a combination of both bladed and blunt melee tools even more worthwhile.
CONTROLS - 4/5
While the movement on first impressions feels odd and off balance, you'll become accustomed to it before long just as you'll quickly adapt to fending off the zombie hordes without much challenge as if you've done it your entire life. It's standard controls for anyone who's played First-person shooters, but a more refined fighting setup is available for those who prefer a challenge. The analogue fighting controls is an optional mode but it delivers a more suspenseful undertone to the gameplay. You may find it immersive and fun, due to the fact it's a more realistic control mode for advanced players which gives you better control over your character's attacks. In this fighting mode, the right analog stick is used to swing your weapon as opposed to just tapping R2. You move the right stick to where you'd like to start a swing and then quickly move the right stick to the opposite side, resulting it blows which could be potentially more damaging if you connect right in the sweet spot. All the controls are responsive, and the only time you might get some unresponsiveness is when trying to bring up the inventory screen, which sometimes requires a couple of presses. Otherwise the control layout is simple to understand and the combat is basic to grapple.
ATMOSPHERE - 4/5
The ambient noises of a perfect holiday getaway that mesh unmistakeably with the growls of the undead makes for an unsettling atmosphere within a hostile paradise. It never feels like a complete horror because of the daylight setting, and the sunshine gleams off of most surfaces giving you the feel of a luxury destination of relaxation. But the blood that covers the walls and fills the swimming pools diminishes that appealing and comforting thought instantly, and turns your attention to survival, and as you perilously traverse an island now populated with zombies, the atmosphere provokes your instinct and inclination to run away immediately out of Hell's frightening reach towards your sanity, for something harmful and undesirable is intent on suffocating you in fear and anxiety until you finally perish into the darkness. Past the pleasant see breeze is the stench of death, and Dead Island creates a suitably toned atmosphere, so that when you pass a mutilated corpse absorbing the heat and attracting the flies (or worse) you feel that escape is improbable if it isn't already impossible.
ENEMY AI - 3/5
The standard zombie enemies called 'Walkers' all act remarkably like you'd expect them to, with intimidating grunts and slow shambling that draws a satisfactory resemblance to the George A. Romero films starring the flesh eating undead antagonists that are now iconic movie and video game stars. This factor alone warrants some positive notes to draw from these walking corpses who's instinct now drives them to feed on the flesh of the living, with aggressive behaviour and no thought process whatsoever. They are still major threats, however, if encountered in groups where there speed is less of a disadvantage and you'd be mistaken to act foolishly and complacently when approaching a couple just ambling about. They do propel themselves at you on occasions, and when several do this manoeuvre at once, that's when you find your confidence levels decreasing and death looming ever closer. Once they have you in their sights and recognise your fresh scent they will pursue you a surprising distance before giving up the chase, and if you climb a ladder to get out of arms reach, you'll admire the animation that involves desperate arms reaching up, with hungry blood-stained mouths gaping and snarling. Kicking them back interrupts most of their attacks and can knock them down to the ground for an easy kill, but this common zombie type isn't the main one you have to worry about. There are other types to, and one of the other more common types of zombie is one that resembles the maniac antagonists from the movie 28 days later, called 'Infected'. These are fast, agile and vicious, and attack any target they see that isn't dead already. Infected announce their presence with a bone-chilling shriek when they spot you, and this is the sole way to pinpoint their location before it's too late, as you hear them getting closer and closer, inevitably bringing pain and death with them. You can't outrun these rage-filled monsters and when they look to hunt their prey in groups, you have a huge problem that will be very difficult to solve up close, with the best strategy being to fight them from distance. There are larger zombies to, who are equally mean, tough and ferocious, and finding their weakness immediately will probably save your life. Human enemies come into the thick of things later in the game, but just as quickly as you find the gunplay is unsuccessful, so is the human intelligence which is uncoordinated, showing no environmental awareness in terms of taking cover well, and overall proving dumb and annoying adversaries to encounter.
LENGTH - 5/5
Dead Island's campaign, which is split up into 4 acts, runs at a good pace and finishes at a very satisfying length of about 30 hours. The side quests and exploration make up most of that time, and that's where the zombie massacring is at it's utmost, bloody best, giving you plenty of chances to uncover new, brutal tools to use or craft into something far more devastating and to take in the sights of a tropical paradise-turned-hellish gorefest.
REPLAY VALUE - 5/5
There is many reasons to instantly replay the remarkably long and consistently entertaining single player campaign, not only because there are 4 different character classes to choose from who each input there own personality into the game and have their own unique abilities and skill trees, but because throughout gameplay your inventory will likely appear entirely different to the last time thanks to the random weapon looting system. You may also happen to stumble upon survivors besieged by zombies that you didn't come across previously, and if you never got to fully explore the entire island of Banoi, then secret collectables and weapon caches will definitely be worth the extra trip and extra death toll you mount up. You may also, and unfortunately, stumble across a varying amount of sudden and weird glitches that can create confusion at any time. Minor issues arise when trying to simply climb up stairs in which you get pushed back and struggle to get up, you can't look behind you while reversing a vehicle, various graphical glitches interrupt your journey around the island, and the most serious - the save game bug, which doesn't save your progress properly leading to potential hours of gameplay lost, aswell as all sorts of statistics to be reset and trophies not unlocking. A manual save game option would have been much more reassuring so you can be positive if it saved, but annoyingly you have to rely on checkpoint saves. Just remember to play offline, and this horrible scenario will never occur or hamper your overall view on the game.
The story is inconsequential and the characters are weak, plus the game is full of random and strange gameplay glitches that intrude annoyingly and can occasionally hamper your enjoyment. But Dead Island's prodigious world and addicting gameplay will claim your ravenous hunger for mature content that is dripping with bloody entrails and gallons of revolting fluid, and it's strong and violent first-person combat is extremely gratifying for the duration of the game, while the role-playing elements filter into the gameplay with an appealing and prominent overall effect. It's an ambitious game that incorporates numerous genres successfully, and if it were more ambitious in creating a very entertaining storyline with a cast of characters you could relate to, it could have been really special. As it is, Dead Island was worth the long and (I suspect) arduous development span, and is a thoroughly enjoyable zombie infested romp that will satisfy the bloodthirsty instincts of your gaming tendencies and let you get up close and personal to revel in melee conflicts with undead foes that just won't stay dead. As the movie tagline goes - once there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth - and in this dark, overrun paradise we can be thankful for that.
OVERALL SUMMARY - 8.5/10
Good Points: Role-playing elements filter into gameplay with an appealing and prominent effect on the action, Large and detailed zombie infested tropical island to explore with lots of quests to do and plenty of things to salvage, Zombies all look and sound intimidating, First-person melee combat is brutal and satisfying, Brilliant amount of both blunt and sharp weapons to bludgeon and dismember the undead with, The innovative and impressively grisly multi-layered damage system reflects your accuracy with each hit you land with gory injury detail, Item management is very good and presented well, Ability to craft weapons into uniquely modified killing tools, Four different character classes to choose from and each with their own special bonuses and skill trees.
Bad Points: Assortment of visual blemishes and strange gameplay glitches, Intolerable autosave bug when playing online results in potential hours of story progress and statistical data to be lost, Nothing memorable or emotional transpires in the predictable storyline, Rudimentary character cast, Gunplay proves unsuccessful, Cheap and frustrating moments incur.