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Dead Island sets the bar for coop zombie fighting

Dead Island (Xbox 360)


As zombie games are getting more and more popular, Dead Island enters the scene among many contenders, and established itself as one of the best. Receiving mixed reviews from many gaming sources, and some perfect scores from others, it was unknown if the mixed reviews would damage it's popularity. Consumers have shown that to not be the case, with over two million copies sold already, and more continuing, it's becoming ever increasingly popular. So what is it that makes Dead Island great?

Deep Silver
The Boxart

The Graphics

As you can see from the slideshow to the left, the graphics are stellar. Many of the visuals are very stunning, such as the island paradise you see as you explore the island, whether it's sunny or storming; The dark, bloodstained interior of a beach hut, with only your flashlight to illuminate the way before you; the dark and dank sewers, where things do go bump in the night. The character models are also very well done, while there are zombies that are repeatedly modeled after each other, you won't get tired of them. Zombies in Dead Island have different layers to their bodies. You can see those layers as being skin, muscle and tissue, and bone. These are all exposable with the various ways you destroy them. Aside from the character models, Dead Island's best graphical feature would have to be the lighting in this Examiner's opinion. Coupled with the sound effects of zombies roaring and people screaming in the distance, it sets quite the mood if you're exploring a dark abandoned house.

The Gameplay

Dead Island is a role playing cooperative game. You complete quests, gain experience points, pick skill sets to learn, and weapons to upgrade. It's not just a first person shooter either. You can pick weapons up from just about anywhere, depending on your location. If you're on the beach, look for paddles or broom stick handles. In the police station, try and find a baton, or a gun. In the sewers? Pull a rusty pipe off the wall. Whether it's baseball bats, brass knuckles, wrenches, knives, machetes, broom handles, batons, paddles, maces, morning stars, or guns, it doesn't stop there! You can also fashion your own weapons, such as nail sticks, which is basically a stick with a bunch of nails in it. You can create a shocking machete, which shocks the zombies, or people, as you cut them up. Among other creations are one of my favorites, the Deo-Bomb, which is a bomb made out of a couple of deodorant cans, the classic molotov returns as well. You can fistfight zombies, kick them in face, and also curb stomp them. If you don't feel like killing zombies in such a personal way, hop in a truck and run them over. I recommend the smaller pickup, as it handles better and goes faster than the armored truck. Single player is incredibly engaging, whether you're hunting out a store to buy some med paks from, or fast traveling to and from locations to finish up quests, it never ceases to provide you with interesting things to do. Dead Island's cooperative mode is very streamlined with the single player mode. If you're in a particular area, and someone else happens to be playing that same quest, or in that area as well, and icon appears on the screen, all you or that person has to do to join you, is press that button, and then you have yourself a zombie killing sidekick. You can team up with up to four friends or random strangers, and unleash unholy retribution amongst the undead. With a larger group of people however, you will see the zombies become stronger, and you will need to use teamwork to take the tougher ones down. The best part of Cooperative is that there is no friendly fire.

The Controls

While other games are point and shoot, Dead Island requires you to aim your blows at the undead, time them just right and you'll be justly rewarded. For example, timing a kick to the face just right when an infected zombie comes running at you, and the resounding crack of it's neck breaking is a great reward. It does take a little bit of time to get used to, but nothing that will frustrate you. If you don't like the button pushing, and would prefer say, swinging your thumbsticks instead, simply change to that feature in the menu. Personally, I couldn't get used to it after playing the whole game with the buttons, so I advise try that out first if you prefer those control schemes.

The Replay Value

Dead Island has a pretty long campaign especially if you take the time to do the side quests. Beating the campaign in cooperative is also another achievement if you wish to earn it. Combine that with the satisfaction you get of helping your friends pass certain areas, and showing them hidden secrets in the game and you'll have a game that you'll keep playing until the sequel.