Monday, June 18, 2012

Game Review: Dead Island (2011)

(the following review is based on the version available on PS3)

On the tropical island of Banoi, the Royal Palms Resort is an exclusive getaway destination for the rich and famous. The “who’s who” and wealthiest on our planet go there to get down and dirty. If you have the dime, the hosts of the Royal Palms will offer you the time. There are beautiful beaches, oceanfront bungalows, unlimited alcohol, and chicks in itty-bitty bikinis. Instead of working on their tans and drinking until dawn, the latest group to flock to Banoi has to fight for survival once a major outbreak has turned a majority of the guests into mindless, homicidal zombies. The only getaway you will experience, is running for life past hordes of the infected. As the old adage goes…eat the rich! Thanks, Aerosmith.

At first glance, Dead Island could very easily be passed off as a clone of many other genre games that have surfaced since the latest zombie craze. Reading the online synopsis could make Dead Island appear to be Left4Dead…on an island or Dead Rising 2…on an island. For starters, you have the option of selecting among four characters that you can play co-op online (L4D) and you also gain the ability to repair and create weaponry over time (DR2). As an experienced veteran of those previous titles and the one being reviewed, the verdict is that Dead Island is more RPG than shoot ‘em up and a totally different type of gaming experience.

As previously stated, you can select from four very different characters. Logan is an ex-American football player whose career ended too early when his penchant for street racing went bad. Purna was tossed off the police squad in Australia when she tried to kill a pedophile above the law and now works as a personal bodyguard for the type of clientele who resides at the Royal Palm. Xian Mei is a front desk person at the resort, who used the gig to flee China and see the world. Sam B. is a one –hit wonder rapper hired to perform at a private VIP party even though his career has quickly spirally downward since his chart-topping hit wore thin. More importantly than each character containing a different personality like in most games, they have unique skill sets that will decide how you need to engage your foes to be successful. For example, Sam B can throw hands with the best of them, where Purna is better using firearms from long range. 

After a bizarre opening cutscene, featuring Sam B. busting out his hit “Who Do You Voodoo?”, you begin your quest awakening in the hotel while the voice over the intercom instructs you to evacuate the building. From the second you get out of your room until the end of the game, you rarely have a chance to catch your breath, with your character in almost non-stop peril. This game is styled after RPG play, so your character will evolve into a more powerful force to be reckoned with as you complete tasks and do some zombie killing. That being said, you will meet up with other survivor groups outside of the resort, since the plague has overtaken all of Banoi, who you can perform side tasks for to “Level Up” parallel with your main quests to finish the game.

The control configuration is a bit awkward at first and takes about 30-45 minutes to become adapted. Once you do get the hang of the controls scheme, you will appreciate how it does not interrupt your gameplay’s flow. The weapons you obtain do not have a prominent use-life, so you will need to repair, upgrade and even create your own weapons or risk resorting to hand-to-hand combat. Therefore, it is important to always have access to the few workbenches scattered throughout the island. Another aspect to the game is the education you will gain on when to fight it out and when to run like Forrest Gump.    

The map for this game is a beast, so doing some free roaming zombie bashing can be fun too. This is not a pick up and play then put down for months type of game, so trust me that you will get sucked in almost immediately. Be aware that you also could be playing for 50 total hours if you try to complete all of the side plus main missions. So if you split that total game time over several weeks, this title will give you your hard earned money’s worth. Well it would be worth your money unless...

Final Verdict: ...I cannot recommend any of my readers to buy this game. Do Not Do It! This sucker was flawless until my save game became corrupted after 26 hours of gameplay, no exaggeration. I believed this to be an isolated incident until I researched online and Google searched for “Dead Island corrupted save” and read the thousands and thousands of people affected by the same thing for every system. This is not just for PS3 users but XBOX 360 users as well. From what I read, the developers rushed this out and knowingly did not fix or warn potential buyers about the issue. They released a patch for this to help in the future, but if you already had a corrupted game save, you had to restart all the way from the beginning. I even read that people were still having these issues after they installed the patch as well. Had this problem not reared its ugly head, my review would have been ending with me stating how this would have been Game of the Year on my Best of 2011 if I had played it sooner. Sorry guys…presentation and gameplay is flawless, but losing hours of your life due to bugs that were overlooked is a no buy from me. AVOID!   


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