Graphics:
7.5
Gameplay:
8.0
Sound:
7.7
Control:
8.1
Replay Value:
7.8
Online Gameplay:
8.3
Overall Rating:
7.9
Publisher:
Deep Silver
Developer:
Techland
Number Of Players:
1-4
Genre:
Action/RPG


Dead Island is the type of game that epitomizes the “close, but not quite” label. On the one hand, there’s a lot to like. The island is large and filled with a surprising amount of variety for an isolated paradise location, the action is almost always entertaining, and the added RPG-like depth is appreciated. On the other hand, the pacing seems off, the characters are either boring or annoying, and the technical presentation is competent without being impressive. If you can get into the intense survival element – which is evident – you’ll love it. If not…

As you may have seen in various pieces of footage, the visuals aren’t quite up to par with elite productions. There are a few graphical imperfections here and there, and this colorful and gory palette doesn’t exactly scream polish and refinement. However, I don’t wish to sell the game short, because there are plenty of highlights. The environment is nicely detailed and the special effects are comical and downright awesome in some instances. Many of the more hectic encounters are jammed with blood and severed limbs, and the frame rate rarely (if ever) stutters. As I just said, the graphics are competent but beyond that, don’t expect anything special.

The audio suffers from the same sort of unevenness one finds with the visuals and overall pacing. While the effects once again stand out – and complement the graphical gore – the voice acting is mediocre and the soundtrack is hit or miss. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by fantastic soundtracks in the past week ( Driver: San Francisco and Resistance 3 ) and I’m not giving the music in Dead Island enough credit. That’s possible. And the selected tracks are pretty damn good for certain situations; they just don’t play a big enough role for my tastes.

The best way to describe the gameplay is as follows: think of an open-world action/RPG, one that blends Far Cry 2 , Resident Evil , and Borderlands . …okay, that might be a little difficult to picture, but I think that’s accurate. We start at the Royal Palms Resort on a picturesque island; it’s perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and lolling by the pool. But that vacation is short-lived, as a nasty plague quickly sweeps across paradise and turns humans into ravenous killing machines. To survive, you need to grab whatever’s handy. Be creative, but be fast.

Along the way, you’ll come across intrepid groups of survivors who have resisted the zombies, and some of these NPCs will hand out quests. From here, the RPG elements come into play: leveling up, the level designation and crafting for weapons, and a damage system. The story isn’t anywhere near as fleshed out as I would’ve liked, but that’s okay, because the gameplay quickly sucks you in and keeps you riveted. Accepting quests, striking out on your own, and exploring an area where monsters hold sway is a pulse-quickening experience. In some ways, the developers do this right; the style and artistry will give you chills.

For instance, zombies aren’t always running after you. They’re often just wandering about, feeding on corpses or shambling around. So it’s sort of like being in a little world dominated by things that want to kill you, and the fact that you’re cut off from the rest of civilization…well, it works. The combat itself isn’t perfect but I have to say, this is the first time I’ve really enjoyed going melee in a first-person perspective. Hacking away with machetes, swinging wildly with baseball bats; it’s all implemented quite well, and you don’t necessarily feel overwhelmed. You’re just frightened.

Ironically, when you finally do find some weapons, you realize that the first-person shooter aspect of the game is the least appealing. Furthermore, the pacing starts to get a little irritating, as there are several lackluster quests that feel uninspired. You can spice things up by using the vehicles to destroy marauding groups but even that starts to feel a little tired after a few hours. But despite the weak FPS element, the erratic pacing, and the one-dimensional characters, the weapon upgrade and crafting system helps save the day. That, and it’s always wicked fun to test out your new creation…hell, that’s the most attractive part!

Using a workbench to modify a simple knife, for instance, can be very entertaining. There are many possibilities and options and the more you search, the more insane your creations can become. The only problem is that weapons degrade over time and unfortunately, you often don’t have long to enjoy your crazy slicer or basher. Still, lopping off an arm or good old-fashioned decapitation is strangely satisfying, and keeping an eye on your stamina adds to the strategy element. I suppose it’s no big shock that I liked the RPG elements, and the action stuff was fun, too. But the flaws, although minor, continued to pop up.

Perhaps the best way to gloss over the drawbacks is to play with a friend. Much like Resistance 3 , the co-op is a huge benefit for this product, and somehow, the action and drive for survival is amplified. And because the campaign is quite long, you can really get quite a few days of buddy/buddy entertainment out of the deal. You’ll both revel in the atmosphere, take twisted pleasure in mowing through the undead hordes, and even trade weapon customization and upgrade ideas. In so many ways, I think this game works best when played with other people.

Dead Island might be called an action/RPG and in that respect, it’s both fun and fulfilling. It’s not a full role-playing experience, the first-person shooter parts are a little blasé, and the pacing seems off, but the combination of in-your-face action and strategy works nicely. On the flip side, I never really care about any of the characters, the technical presentation isn’t exactly breathtaking, and there’s some repetition in the quests. In short, the game has more ups than downs but it’s impossible to ignore the downs. That’s easier to describe than the genre of this title, by the way.

The Good: Atmosphere and environment pulls us in. Hand-to-hand battling is gory fun. Weapon upgrade and crafting system is a big plus. Control is solid. Co-op action is great.

The Bad: Graphics lack refinement. Voice acting ranges from mediocre to average. Characters are clichéd and boring. Pacing isn’t quite right.

The Ugly: There’s ugly everywhere. Just start chopping.

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Kiryu
Kiryu
9 years ago

see that u xbox fans.
comparing Resistance 3 to this crap game.

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
9 years ago

I wouldn't say it's a crap game. It looks enjoyable and I plan on getting it eventually like I did with Borderlands.

cLoudou
cLoudou
9 years ago

Yeah, it's not necessarily crap, but they don't have an exclusive to compare to Resistance 3 at the moment.


Last edited by cLoudou on 9/8/2011 11:14:22 PM

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
9 years ago

A near-8 is crap? What sort of system are we scoring on?

Kiryu
Kiryu
9 years ago

that fat reviewer at ign said he'd rather play dead island then Resistance 3.

LegendaryWolfeh
LegendaryWolfeh
9 years ago

Agreed…I don't get it. I've had Dead Island day 1 and from a few patches in the last 3 days, it's been a very enjoyable time. Me and 2 other friends always playing together and stuff, it's nice.

Qubex
Qubex
9 years ago

Lol Kiryu…

"Those fat hobbitsis… they just want to eat us… and take our PS3's"

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

matt99
matt99
9 years ago

I've been playing Dead Island for a couple days now and it is definitely not a crap game, in fact I'd say Ben's review is spot on. It's a lot of fun but it just feels lacking in some ways. Bottom line is it's worth a purchase if you're a fan of the genre.

FM23
FM23
9 years ago

Kiryu=Sony Fanboy, its true though, but I agree with you…I haven't played either, but R3 looks like the better game.

Condemnedsoul23
Condemnedsoul23
9 years ago

I gave this game serious thought since I haven't had anything like this since RE5 but I hear there are way too many glitches to be ignored when spending $60. The patch that was supposed to be released to fix over 30 bugs as of yet still hasn't been released so I think I will have to skip this for a little while. I've had Infamous 2 since its release date and still haven't opened it and got Resistance 3 yesterday so by the time I get to this it should be at least $15 cheaper and hopefully the bugs fixed by then.
Great review.


Last edited by Condemnedsoul23 on 9/8/2011 11:26:16 PM

dillonthebunny
dillonthebunny
9 years ago

C.Soul.. never ever ever buy Fallout if you cant deal with glitches.

FM23
FM23
9 years ago

or Oblivion…the fountain of GLICTHES!…great games though

AshT
AshT
9 years ago

Great Review Ben, i'm glad i decided to buy R3

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
9 years ago

A fair review as always, it sounds like my kind of thing. I don't mind that it isn't a 9 because when there are some drawbacks like this that put a few people off, I can snag it off ebay from them and enjoy it for far cheaper.

dillonthebunny
dillonthebunny
9 years ago

WEIM… its worth it, it is a good game. there's a tension that runs through out, you never ever feel that secure. its bizarre.. its good for a zombie game to make you feel that way. yeah, im glad i picked this up.

one of my mates asked me if not having many guns was a bad thing, i said i was too busy stovin in their heads with a bit of pipe to care.. and that pretty much sums up this game 🙂

main_event05
main_event05
9 years ago

lol, why can't Americans talk like the other native English speakers??

"i was too busy stovin in their heads with a bit of pipe to care" – classic

frostface
frostface
9 years ago

Dillons English dude, tea and crumpets over Apple pie mate! lol

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
9 years ago

lol, thanks Dillon you and I usually see eye to eye on what we like. I like to stove heads in and run scared 🙂

Gordo
Gordo
9 years ago

Traded 3 games in for this and picked it up for free. Looking forward to getting stuck in tonight!

Love a good zombie film so this should fill the gap until the next Dead Souls v Rage purchase conundrum.

Fingers crossed! I've been a bit jaded gaming wise for a while. Nothing seems to grab me at the moment. Some funny zombies should help!

Beamboom
Beamboom
9 years ago

It's not "free" when you paid three games for it!
😀

Lord carlos
Lord carlos
9 years ago

Sounds promising
i'll pick it up cheap.
I do enjoy taking part in the obliteration of zombies co op style.

Gamer Girl Gemo
Gamer Girl Gemo
9 years ago

I was kind of wanting to get Dead Island, but once I heard it was going to be in first-person, the want and excitement of this title went nearly down the drain. So many titles these days have really overused that first-person perspective. CoD being one of the main culprits. I mean it's nice to have a different title like this one try to change the view on what a first-person action title is like, but it's beginning to feel like they're thrown in with the rest.
I tried out the beta for R3 and as soon as I began to play it, I was immediately bored of it. The weapons were different and there were different modes, but what fun is it when I felt like I was playing a new version of CoD? I'm not meaning to bash on R3, it's another exclusive that we can add the to the PS3's list, but I'm not really seeing it being as one of the greater ones.

Anyhow, nice review, Ben. I'd really been thinking about maybe getting Dead Island, but I think I can manage to skip this one as well as R3. Now I'm just waiting for Dark Souls, Skyrim, BF3, and, ultimately, UC3.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
9 years ago

it was an MP beta, the story and campaign atmosphere is apparently a big part of it. Resistance has always had arcadey controls so I know what you're getting at.

Gamer Girl Gemo
Gamer Girl Gemo
9 years ago

Oh, I wasn't blaming the beta for any faults. The beta itself was actually pretty good by beta standards. I didn't find any bugs in it or anything, I was just saying how it felt like I was poking at a CoD game all over again. Granted, the graphics were alright and so was the gameplay, but nothing new or fancy to look at. Also, if it's anything like R2, then I probably won't really have any fun with it. I played R2 all the way through, but there weren't really any memorable moments.

…Well, except for the ending.

dillonthebunny
dillonthebunny
9 years ago

dead island is refreshing in the sense that its not a usual shooter. if you wanted something a lil different before we all go to ware either at the end of Oct or in Nov ..depending what your thing is, i would recommend this game.

JDC80
JDC80
9 years ago

I'm still working on the first chapter I just finished clearing out the Lifehouse of zombies so the remaining survivors can hide out. I kinda like where I'm walking on the beach and nothing is happening but once I get to a certain part of the beach then I hear a zombie scream and see a horde of them running right at me. Once I get done with the main story I'm going to give co-op a go.

Geobaldi
Geobaldi
9 years ago

Thanks to Deep Silver releasing the PC pre-release version instead of the finished version, I have to wait until the patch tomorrow to finally be able to enjoy the game. The last patch erased every bit of progress me and my friends made on launch day so we're not touching it again until tomorrow night. Was really great co-op fun, though it sucks that those 5 hours were all for nothing 🙁

main_event05
main_event05
9 years ago

I can finally pick up my copy saturday, can't wait. They had me at zombies.

The review was kinda what I had expected, but didn't sway me one bit. kudos to Ben.

BIGRED15
BIGRED15
9 years ago

I really can't afford to buy games new unless they are at least 8.5 right now so this is a definite backseat game.

So is it safe to assume that we can only trust a game informer review as far as u can throw the magazine out ur 2 story window? This better than r3? Okay. For some maybe but to say r3 isn't a tripple A title? Horse sh**. Resistance is and has always gotten scores over nine. I am now very pleased that I didn't extend my subscription at gamestop the other day.

Looks like the only reviews I'm gonna use to make purchase decisions is ol' faithful… Psx

PSTan
PSTan
9 years ago

This is how I read review scores (regardless of website reviewer)

6's and 7's are worth playing, with a possible purchase at 7.5 or higher, if budget permits.

The 8 range are games that should be played and eventually bought, likely at a discount.

9's and beyond, there's really no question of the game's qualities; it immediately goes on my purchase waitlist.

That's my interpretation anyway. The real discrepancy comes with the fact that people think anything below an 8 isn't worth looking at. Most reviewers deem anything a 7 or above "good", and it pisses me off when people just ignore it completely.

Give these "not-as-highly-rated" games a chance; you never know, it could be a hidden gem.

I plan on trying Dead Island with my cuz soon, from what I've seen it looks to be one of 2011's sleeper hit.

SmokeyPSD
SmokeyPSD
9 years ago

Some pretty unexciting, Maybe a low price purchase down the track or if I see a demo but otherwise I'm really not enthused. Zombies games are the new WWII and it's annoying.

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
9 years ago

If the co-op was split screen aswell I might have considered buying it, playing Left 4 Dead split screen with another person is so much fun!
But as It does not have this feature I'll probaly pick it up cheap.

The game to me still seems like Farcry 2 with Zombies. I got bored of F2 very quickly, so I'm not sold yet.

___________
___________
9 years ago

downloading the update now, now only if steam would hurry the %$#@ up!
thats one thing i hate about steam its so slow and for some reason it tells you the game size instead of the update size.
this for example steams telling me the patch is 6737MBs.
WTF?
how can a patch be 6737MBs?

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
9 years ago

It'll the locked DLC, you see if it isn't!

BikerSaint
BikerSaint
9 years ago

________________,

FYI, the developers mistakenly gave "Steam" a wrong pre-final PC version that was filled with bugs, glitches, & freeze-ups, so maybe you also got that same "pre" version too.

They have apologized & also stated that the patch will fix the 37 known problems in that "Pre" version.

___________
___________
9 years ago

nah i got the retail version because i bought it from retail instead of steam.
and by the time they released it here they had already released the right version.
was pretty funny though, theres going to be some uncomfortable meetings at techland soon.
first releasing the dev build then the whole feminist whore line of code debacle.

AugustoDeItalia
AugustoDeItalia
9 years ago

great review Ben ! i bought dead island day 1 and i'm enjoying it ! i know there are flaws, but after playing for a while, you don't notice them anymore since the game is really fun.


Last edited by AugustoDeItalia on 9/9/2011 6:49:48 AM

berserk
berserk
9 years ago

Great review , if you like the pros he mentioned and don t mind the bad there is no reason not to buy it soon .

As a reviewer i would give about the same score but as a gamer who love fps , zombies and don t mind the bad ben mentioned it get a 9 from me .

Anonymous
Anonymous
9 years ago

I will try Dead Island out later this year or in 2012. I haven't even opened Deus Ex yet…or Catherine.

Bjorn77
Bjorn77
9 years ago

Excellent! This game gets good review scores… I will pick it up after I am done with Deus Ex.

Claire C
Claire C
9 years ago

Will have to wait and get cheap.

erislocker
erislocker
9 years ago

i bought it. i'm loving it. the save game glitch pissed me off proper since i lost about 6-7 hrs that i had to replay TWICE!
but other than that i can't wait to go home and play more.

if you are looking for a zombie survival rpg with focus on fun melee, i'd say go for it.

yes the characters are stupid sometimes, and there are pop-ins when it loads a save game, and the dialogue / facial animation is not always that moving.

but, bottom line, the game is fun. i look forward to explore and hack and slash. plus the trophy collection is also fun.

i concur with Ben and say a Solid 8.0.

it's not the best, but the uniqueness and innovative idea make up for it all…
can't wait for the arena DLC

Alienange
Alienange
9 years ago

FC2, RE and Borderlands? Sounds painfully mediocre. Although co-op is always fun so I guess that's their angle.

BIGRED15
BIGRED15
9 years ago

Eh I disagree. Borderlands was as shallow as a kiddie pool in the story dpt. But I still got a lot of enjoyment from the game itself especially with friends. It'd at least worth a 20$ purchase at gamestop.

Beamboom
Beamboom
9 years ago

… And Far Cry 2 was not mediocre either? I can understand those who did not like it, it's not for everyone but mediocre?

Lairfan
Lairfan
9 years ago

That's what he said, mediocre. And for once I agree with him.

Minishmaru
Minishmaru
9 years ago

I redboxed Resistance 3 and plan on either renting it again on my 2 days off (in a row!) so I can thoroughly destroy the game, or buying it cuz the game definitely has one of the best stories so far. It had me drawn in from the get go. I did D1P Dead Island and after seeing this review I might return it and buy it when its on the cheap side. MIGHT, cuz I do love zombie themed things 🙂

Hoagie324
Hoagie324
9 years ago

I attended a midnight release of Resistance 3 and Dead Island and I got both games. So far, I've really been enoying both equally… Resistance 3 to satisfy my shooter craving, and Dead Island to satisfy my zombie craving. I've put a bit more time into Dead Island, and I'm at Chapter 11 in Resistance 3. This fall is killing my wallet. Great review, Ben.

The Doom
The Doom
9 years ago

But but…the trailer was so nice! I'm shock u didn't give it a 10 on that alone

Robochic
Robochic
9 years ago

great review i'll wait since i have to pick up R3 and UC3 so this one will have to wait.

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