Dead Island is one of my favorite games this year, which is funny when it comes from the same developers [Techland] of one of my most hated games all year: Call of Juarez: The Cartel. I would rather smuggle drugs for the cartel by placing countless bags of coke in an extremely uncomfortable place—no, not a Volkswagen—than play The Cartel. Dead Island could, without question, use some polish, but it has the kind of hooks capable of addicting me in the same way coke hooks a cokehead.
The hooks I speak of are a leveling system with numerous upgrades and an open-world that actually feels open. A well-implemented leveling system—which The Cartel does not have—is enough for me to play the absolute worst games, but that's not to say Dead Island is a bad game. The leveling system featured in Dead Island is similar to games like Borderlands, with three columns of differing themes, leaving many choices, many hard choices. Each level feels earned and I was addicted to getting experience points in whatever way possible. The game also manages to have a environment that feels completely open despite that being false. It may be due to the island setting, but for the most part, I never felt like I wasn't free, except the moment I was being warned about leaving the game area.
The game also features a crafting system that leaves many throwing comparisons between Dead Island and Dead Rising 2. I understand the comparison, but the crafting in Dead Island is a bit more practical. There aren't crazy chainsaw-paddles or wolverine boxing gloves; for example, there are weapons full of nails or covered in burning cloth, nothing too ridiculous. It makes sense in Dead Island's more realistic world and it's nice that all crafting materials are not part of the character's inventory—there is no limit on how many crafting items one can hold at a time, so go loot like a Londoner. As far as the zombies go, they range from slow walkers to Olympic sprinters to giant flailing idiots. It's nice to have the variety and the ability to break or cut limbs is never not amusing.
Another big hook Dead Island has going for it is co-op, but that is something I sadly missed. I only rented the game and plan to buy it once it has the ever-common sale after a week or two, but I did want to jot down some thoughts. The game is buggy and could have used some extra time or potentially some outside help, but I never experienced anything that really took me out of was what one would call a "game-killer." If you even just a little interested, rent the game and see if it's up your alley—which may be a euphemism for that extremely uncomfortable place mentioned earlier. If you had fun with the likes of Fallout 3, Borderlands, or Far Cry 2, there's a good chance you'll find something to like in Dead Island.
Dead Island Fun Facts:
- Dead Island has the thirstiest woman in the world. How she hasn't died from drowning is beyond my comprehension.
- Women on the island love to stay in swimsuits regardless of place, leaving so many female zombies dead with their ass up in the air, saying "hello world" with its firmness.
- Boxes of apples contain only one edible apple. In the extremely rare situation, they contain two edible apples.
- Dialogue is sometimes as great as this: "Thanks mate, I was losing hope. This is just what I was hoping for."