Being someone who is generally pretty terrified of zombies and would never in real life survive a zombie attack (I’d sit blubbering on the floor), I was actually pleasantly surprised by this game.
I couldn’t play the likes of Dead Rising, and it took me a while not to be terrified during multiplayer Left 4 Dead! Ok maybe when I played this, Tom turned off the lights and jumped up behind me scaring the living daylights out of me, but there were times I did shriek through genuine fright all on my own. Yes I am your typical girl who jumps at the silly bits in creepy movies!
Anyway, imagine my pleasant surprise when found the RPG element in Dead Island; talent trees, upgradable weapons and schematics for building new weapons. I really didn’t expect any of that (I only saw the trailer and read nothing else on this game) but, coming from my World of Warcraft background I quickly learned that the paddle of a boat just wasn’t going to cut it for a level 3 zombie.
When asked to Pick your character at the start, I picked Sam B because I was hoping he would make me feel safe. Blunt weapon specialisation, oh yeah! You do seem to be the only person who actually does anything though. I started out talking to a lifeguard and he was telling me to get HIS keycard from HIS room. Why can’t he go get it himself? Is he too scared to go? What use is he anyway? Chicken shit. Lone solider, off I go.
Throughout the game everything you do is in the form of a quests for which you get XP rewards and maybe some money or whatever. It is in your best interests to help these people, even if they don’t seem to help themselves.
You do get to drive some vehicles fairly early on too, driving is ok, nothing special, but not too tricky either. Certainly running around does get pretty old and driving over zombies is much more fun! The island is pretty huge really and you can see how much of your map you have uncovered.
There is a quest tracking system to show you where to go on your minimap if you like such things. I liked this as I can get pretty lost and get myself into all sorts of bother otherwise.
Levelling up and gaining another talent point is always fun and you can spread yourself across more than one tree. Get a good mix of combat and survivability skills or just go all out fury. You can do what works for you as there is no one way to succeed. Your choices will of course vary depending on the character your chose at the start too.
Combat is pretty basic; you can punch, kick and just swing your weapon. I tended to favour just kicking the zombies to save my weapon taking too much damage and breaking, and kicking also doesn’t wear down your stamina gauge which is depleted with all other weapons, meaning you can’t just swing away mindlessly. Since you are on a holiday island there aren’t guns and big swords lying around so you have to make do with boat paddles, pipes and such like, though you can fashion much more impressive and effective items so remember to look around for stuff you can pick up. You can aim your weapon to direct your hits at for example the legs to cripple, or the head to just totally decapitate if your heart desires…mine did…a lot. If you like you can aim and throw your weapon and pick it up again. You will also get a special ability depending on what talent tree you decide to wander down. I took fury as I figured it was pretty much the opposite of my own personality so I could at least pretend to be brave and heroic!
The game looks gorgeous. Running across the beach found a quiet zombie free moment to just look out over the ocean to the mountains in the distance and it is pretty. Zombies don’t look pretty, it doesn’t matter how many pixels you put in there, but they are suitably grotesque. It also must be said that despite many reviewers complaining that the game was buggy or unfinished, I experienced very few such issues. Perhaps I was just lucky!
Personally I loved the game, but like I said I didn’t read any of the hype about it so I don’t have built up expectations. I do have a feeling that your hardcore zombie fans might be a little disappointed after all the hype of the trailer, and the RPG element might not suit some people, but it’s definitely worth a play.
Now if you don’t mind it’s dinner time……braaaaaaaains.
9 fast/slow zombies out of 10