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Dead Island: Game of the Year Edition (Xbox 360) Review

/ Jul 13th, 2012 No Comments

Dead Island GTOY Edition

Dead Island: GOTY Edition

Dead Island: GOTY Edition

Dead Island is a first person survival horror/RPG developed by Deep Silver, which was released on September 6, 2011. Its Game of the Year edition followed suit with included DLC packs and was released June 26, 2012. This terrifying zombified thriller sets players in the Royal Palms Resort, pride of Papua New Guinea. In this beautiful paradise, an infectious disease has suddenly broke out, putting gamers in the middle of an emergency biohazard. With minimal firearms on the island, players must find and use any objects around to fight off hordes of infected, while trying to find the cause of the breakout. Adding an RPG feature, characters can level up and upgrade their skills against zombies that also level up. Finding out the truth is just the beginning, and survival instincts are always cranked in this adrenaline run blood bath.

Story

The prologue of the game sets the stage for the player: a mysterious disease breaks out at the Royal Palms Resort, and no one knows how or why. Caught in the middle of the chaos, the player’s character must find out what is going on and help the others escape.  Choosing a character to play will set the gamer up for different challenges to come. Each character has traits that can help (or hurt) them while fighting off hordes of infected. If thing’s weren’t confusing enough for the player, it is found that they are immune to the zombie’s bite, making them a valuable tool to help the sheltered survivors. As the story progresses, more clues are found as to how one can escape and how the virus came to be.

Although it is a clever idea for an outbreak to spread across an island with no outside contact, I found the fact that my character was immune to be a bit cheesy. It also didn’t matter that I was immune because I still died when I was bitten. The overall story seemed to have been clouded by so many mini missions in the game, and I had lost focus on the bigger picture while playing. Overall, the story was a good idea, however becomes lost in the many side quests and objectives given by AI.

Gameplay

Dead Island GTOY Edition

Dead Island GTOY Edition

Dead Island’s controlling and gameplay reminded me of a combination between Borderlands and Left 4 Dead. Gameplay is in a first person shooter’s vision like any horror/survival, but characters level up as the game progresses; weapons and objects can be repaired, created or upgraded as well. Upon starting the game, it is quite difficult to control the character and there is minimal training on how to do so. When attacked by zombies, it was hard to tell which buttons to press even when they were shown on screen, which made the first few tries slightly frustrating. However, once I got the hang of it, gameplay became easier and somewhat interesting to play. (It is the strategizing in attacks that is key for Dead Island!)

Because the story takes place on an island, there are few guns. In the first several chapters of the game, there are no firearms at all. Unlike most zombie based games, Dead Island focuses on strict survival instincts. Using a boat paddle, a stick, or hammer are some of the many weapons you can find and use against a horde. I did like the customization and level upgrades characters can make while progressing. It gave Dead Island an edge, combining RPG tactics with a horror/survival base.

Graphics

There is no doubt that the environments and graphics of the game are beautiful. Just walking around makes me dream of tropical islands and summer vacation! The cut scenes in the game also look great, with colorful detail and smooth movements (and I’m not just talking about the blood!) However, I felt that the characters were a bit less believable due to their facial expressions. In short, they had no expressions despite sounding distressed, hopeful, or eaten. It was my only disappointment, but was still impressed with the scenery, movements of the characters and AI, and animated cut scenes. Being attacked out of nowhere by a zombie always gave me a scare for that intimate close up; and of course, I was paying attention to the “graphic” detail!

Sound/Music

The original soundtrack to Dead Island was spot-on, bringing a dynamic and creepy vibe to the game. Such a dynamic sound could only be in a zombie title, with loud intense sequences, then to calm tranquil music. Pawel Blaszczak is the composer to the game, and brings a brilliant array of tunes to grasp players into the setting of Dead Island. Sound graphics also hit it off well with ear splitting screams, limb cutting breaks and spine tingling chimes that only a survivor/horror can bring. At times, there is nothing, just the sound of distant zombies on the hunt, then suddenly a scream is your only warning before being bitten in screams and growling. A gripping soundtrack and sound graphic do well for this title, keeping players on the edge for survival.

Game of the Year features/Online Content

Dead Island GOTYE Screenshot

Dead Island GOTYE Screenshot

In the Game of the Year edition, three DLC packs were included: the Bloodbath Arena, Ryder White campaign, and The Ripper weapon blueprint. (Each can be bought separately if you have the standard edition game.) In Bloodbath Arena, players are taken to a bunker where there are four areas marked A, B, C and D. Each area is full of different zombies, each harder than the last. When completing each fight, players are awarded cash, weapons and mods, all randomized each time you play. The Ryder White campaign adds a new character story for players once they finish the main story. Ryder White, thought to be the villain of the story, is sent to Banoi on a mission investigating the breakout. When one of his chopper mates becomes infected and bites the pilot, White crash lands on the island and must survive to save his wife, who has been bitten as well. Players get a new grasp on the mistaken Ryder White while playing, but I’d hate to spoil anything else! The Ripper blueprint is a weapon players would have gotten had they pre-ordered the game; however, the Game of the Year edition included it in the title. This twisted mix between baseball bat and buzz saw slices through zombies like butter, but must first be made with a recipe of items a player can find throughout the island. All three features are fun to play and good to have; I’d recommend it for anyone that hasn’t played Dead Island yet. Getting free DLC packs is always a good thing.

In Conclusion

Dead Island is a great, different kind of zombie title. Survival doesn’t begin to describe the objective, making players fight with their lives from homemade explosives, blunt weapons and scarce guns. With such a dynamic story, great graphics and sound, and strategic gameplay, gamers will be entertained and more with the Game of the Year edition, already available for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. And there is a multiplayer feature online, allowing gamers to play a four-player coop in the main campaign. However, for now, there is no offline coop/split screen, which means you’ll have to slice your way through Banoi on your own. There are no buddies in the battle for ultimate survival, after all!

Overall Ratings –
Dead Island: Game of the Year Edition (Xbox 360)

Story:

8/10

Gameplay:

8/10

Graphics:

9/10

Sound:

9/10

GOTY Features:

9/10

OVERALL SCORE:

86%

Jessica Flores

Jessica Flores

Although graduated from UC Irvine in Criminology, Law and Society, Jessica enjoys video games and strives to pursue the industry through writing and reporting. Some of her favorite games are action/adventure, first person shooters and RPG's.
Jessica Flores

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