This is not a review, because I did not play Dead Island long enough to justify the writing of one. I played the game for a grand total of a mere 3.7 hours. This isn’t a terribly long time to spend with a game unless it is something overly simplistic such as Minesweeper, so I cannot and will not write about Dead Island as if I really even know what I am talking about, since I just did not spend enough time on the game to become terribly knowledgeable.
Why didn’t I play the game for any longer than four hours? There are a few reasons. Some of them may or may not be agreeable, but not of them are outright “wrong” since it’s all opinion and is therefore pretty subjective.
1. Collision Detection: What’s with this aspect of the game? Why is it so off? There is not much consistency with collision detection unless you’re using a ranged weapon or throwing something at a zombie. It just seems horribly off a lot of the time since I can kick a zombie in the chest when it appears to be several feet away from me, and then there are times when a zombie will be less than an arms reach away from me and my kicks will miss. I don’t know what’s going on here, but it gives me horrible flashbacks of Morrowind’s iffy dice/number based “hit or miss” battle system. I doubt that Dead Island uses the same method to calculate whether or not you hit since nothing in the game really indicated that it did, but at the very least the fighting mechanics seem a little sloppily coded.
2. Depth of Field: I’M GOING TO THROW UP! Maybe not quite, but this game is a pain for me to look at. The camera controls are extremely wonky and I feel it’s hard to look in certain directions at times. It can also be hard to judge just how close (or far) zombies are at times, which kind of ties in which my beef with the collision detection in this game. I just feel like the whole experience is awkward and disorienting. The way in which character movement is portrayed makes me feel a little confused and really messes with my mind. I don’t get motion sickness or anything, but there’s definitely something to this game that makes me feel a little “off” when I am moving around on foot.
3. (Lack of) Enemy Variety: Walker, walker, walker, thug, infected, walker, walker, walker, infected… Rinse and repeat a lot. This game is an RPG, yeah? Even games such as Fallout 3 (which I can’t stand) boasts better variety. Fighting the same three enemy types, with a grand total of what feels like two or three different models in total for each kind of zombie, gets tiring fast. They could have done so much more! The variety truly is a little boring, and I would only accept shambling zombies if they came at the player en masse ala Dead Rising. When you run into one or two walkers at a time over and over, it just gets really boring. I am aware that you have more zombies attacking you at once later (such as several infected at a time), but really? Should we honestly have to work towards this? I’m playing a zombie game, I don’t want to be attacked by tiny little twosomes and trios for a few hours, especially when it is the same character models/zombie types over and over. I would have at least appreciated a few blood barfing zombies at the start or something.
4. Poor Atmosphere: This game just doesn’t grip me at all. I love zombies as much as the next guy, and a proper horror/scary game can certainly freak me out, but this game just doesn’t suck me in. The hotel at the very start was sufficiently spooky and I enjoyed it, but afterwards? I don’t know, roaming around a tropical resort wasn’t very scary even with zombies screaming and running at me. The environment still looked too pristine and untouched, and the zombies themselves weren’t very intimidating. Everything I was asked to do by the dull and personality-lacking NPCs felt very routine. I just struggled to feel immersed at all. Singleplayer mode ended up being ridiculously boring because of this, and the short time I spent playing co-op with a friend was slightly better, but still kind of sucked since he was a much higher level and was just rushing me through the game. There was no challenge at all because of this since he was running around killing everything in one hit with electrified weapons and such. My situation never felt particularly dire.
5. Bugs & Glitches: While I commend the developers on being able to develop a game that would run on my laptop (it isn’t a set up as gaming machine, but it can hold its own pretty well), I’m a big disgruntled at the frequent black screens I would receive when quitting the game, along with various odd control issues. I’ve also noticed that others online have had quite a few issues with the game, especially with quest NPCs bugging up or with save files becoming corrupted. Dead Island does seem to be about as buggy as standard Bethesda TES releases (Morrowind, Oblivion), but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the game is unstable as other games such Sacred 2. A lot of people have no issues with Dead Island, so I guess that counts for something.
So, there you have it. These are the issues that I feel stopped me from playing more of Dead Island. I will admit that the game looks pretty nice and has some decent ideas such as the combo weapon system and co-op gameplay, but they weren’t enough to save the game in my eyes. I respect that a lot of people are enjoying this game, but Dead Island just doesn’t seem to be for me. I regret purchasing the game, as the money I used to buy it could’ve gone towards F1 2011 instead. Oh well, to each their own!