Dead Island - The Gamers Crack Cocaine

Dead Island: Better Than Your POS.
Not since Fallout 3 have I felt such wonderful levels of surprise and satisfaction with game, its depth, complexity and that wonderful "X" factor that is missing in so much of what is being churned out.

Despite the really bizarre opening and the irritating bugs (which have at least been addressed and are being repaired) Dead Island is a gem; from it's story, which, if there is any justice, should stand proud in the hgher echelons of cult zombie stories, to it's incredibly clever combat system round the game off wonderfully - it is obvious why it was delayed for so long and the game's producers were right to do so.

Dead Island takes place on the fictional paradise island of Banoi - you awake as one of the 4 in game characters to find the hotel* you are in in chaos; baggage strewn everywhere (which, game producers, it is not okay to loot before you know what is going on) people diving off of higher floor balconies and, eventually, a substantial hoard of the infected, a runner-class of zombie, bearing down on you.

It is also at this stage that you find out that you are immune (yay!) to the plague, but not invulnerable to the rather hungry and violent carriers.

The combat system yields some interesting dilemmas; like the Dead Rising series it can be extremely useful to lay down projectile weaponry - which is lucky as it tends to be quite rare - in favour of melee; the speed of the walkers and their relative ruggedness towards small arms fire makes the best option a combination of melee combat combined with rapid, crazy foot stomping action; my character (pictured above) recently found herself without a working bladed weapon so had to resort to kicking the walkers over, then stamping on their necks.

To make matters really interesting no single melee weapons themselves degrade over time, but unlike the Dead Rising games you can repair weapons, upgrade them so they last longer and trick them out so they develop unique and powerful secondary effects; I had a wonderful machete which electrocuted walkers on critical hits until my idiot brother Buffrat tried my game out, threw it at a thug-class walker, a giant type zombie incredibly resilient and tough, then proceeded to walk off into a new game zone, losing it in the process - bringing another unique (and in this particular case irritating) feature of the game - the save game jots checkpoints along the game at regular intervals but does not allow you to save at points; in other games this would appear like quite a piss-poor way of doing this but in Dead Island this actually compliments the pace and evolution of the game itself.

As your character improves so too does your mastery of different weapons and skills; your choice of characters makes you skilled in particular weaponry and levelling up leads to clever ways of adapting to weapons making themselves stronger; as a result you can grow quite attached to particular weapons as you improve yourself with them (just as I was with my brilliant machete till idiot boy threw it away, bastard.) The fact that game nurtures a sense of care and attention, that if you look after your weapon, spend resources and time improving yourself and it, it will care and attend to your needs, is a very, very nice touch.

This game is a joy to play; I hope someone will do the right thing and make it into a movie, at the very least it should get a sequel, sans the bugs.

Score: buy full price. Now. Heck, buy this version in case the zombie apocalypse does come.

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