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Saturday, 18 February 2012

Gamingheap Review - Dead Island (PS3)

Written by Oliver

   A Gamingheap Review...


Dead Island


When I first saw the trailer for this game back in early 2011 I was highly intrigued. The trailer was the best I had seen that year and I thought it was extremely creative, depicting a family on holiday fighting for their lives against the undead - but playing in slow-motion and in reverse behind very sad music. When I saw some gameplay clips a while later it looked even better! A proper zombie game in an open-world map where you could equip literally dozens of weapons to smash undead skulls in - great! What I thought looked really cool was the survival skill aspect of trying to gather food and medical supplies to keep yourself going whilst trying to avoid large undead hordes and instead picking of the smaller groups. I bought this for a hefty price of $49.99 in Gamestop - it was a lot of cash for what it is...


Presentation

In a game where everywhere you look there are animated, decaying corpses trudging toward you, you'd expect their to be a fair amount of blood, bones and pink squishy bits from the brain. Fortunately, Techland nailed the gore in this game; almost to perfection! Striking a foe with any melee weapon looks realistic, with the zombie stumbling backwards, blood spewing from the wounds. It is possible to decapitate enemies, break their limbs and even throw your weapons at them. All of these animations look truly gory and surprisingly smooth without any stiff, unrealistic wooden animations or screwed up physics. Of course, the engine will forge an occasional mishap but that is forgivable.

Banoi itself looks decent, not great, but good enough. Most of the resort is comprised of wooden bungalows and sandy beach bars. There's also suitcases, wardrobes and other objects which house items. These mostly look the same throughout the whole game - with not much differentiation between them at all. The same can be said about the NPCs. It kind of removes the dark and suspenseful atmosphere of the game when there are 2 or 3 people that look exactly the same sitting in the same room. Within 2 hours of gameplay I saw the same women at least 3 times in different safe-zones around the map. One other problem is the texture loading time - sometimes you will be waiting as many as 10 or 20 seconds before the textures in some areas actually pop-in. It doesn't happen all the time, but it happens more than rarely and can ruin the experience. Other than that, mutilating zombies and exploring the island of Banoi looks great!


Story

The game allows you to pick 1 of 4 characters at the beginning of the game. Sam-B, a one-hit-wonder rap star of fading fame; Logan, a former football star spoiled by life; Xian Mei a Chinese women who works as a receptionist at the resort, and finally Purna, a former police officer turned private bodyguard for the wealthy.
All 4 characters have a sort of 'back-story' which you are told about when you select them which adds a little more realism into the game rather than playing as someone you do not know. The story is fairly weak to be honest - after a sudden and abrupt start you are thrown into the game killing zombies with rowing oars with a bunch of other survivors. Following from that, the story is basically just you helping the remaining survivors in the different safe-zones around the map. Other than that there's not much to say here to be fair, the main highlight of this game is its gameplay mechanics.


Gameplay


'Addictive' is the word here! The obvious main reason to play this game is so that you can enjoy bludgeoning zombies to death (there second death that is!) with a massive arsenal of melee weapons including hammers, knives, rowing oars, sticks, planks, baseball bats, sickles, molotov cocktails, wrenches and many, many more. There are a few firearms such as revolvers and rifles but they are extremely hard to come by and ammo is very scarce, therefore melee weapons are much more effective. The combat is very good too, everything runs smoothly and melee is not clunky like you'll see in some other games of the same genre. As aforementioned, you can decapitate the undead, sever their limbs, break bones, set them on fire or blow them up with explosive barrels. Doing any of these things is fun and with zombies practically trying to rip you to shreds every minute, it happens a lot too. 


There is a large RPG feel to this game as well. There are tons of quests to complete whether it be to return a teddy bear to a little girl, give a drunkard some alcohol or go and check out a plane crash, all of them will see you fighting your way through hordes of bloodthirsty zombies. There is a skill tree where you can select 1 perk every level-up you make. One of these perks is a lockpicking skill so that when you put a point towards it you can open locked chests which contain rare and powerful weapons, which I think is a nice touch to the survival feel of the game as you may have to go back to an area later on in the game to open the chest. Most of the perks have 3 levels with the benefits of the perk increasing each time you add a point to it. Of course, I must also mention that there are many achievements in-game some of which are also linked to the trophies you can collect. Another fun thing to do is loot suitcases, cupboards and other containers you find around the map to pick up different items which allow you to repair, upgrade, modify or create new weapons at workbenches. This also costs money which you can find just about anywhere!


Where the game fails to impress is that there isn't much variation in the zombie slaying madness. Sure there are  6 different types of zombies and the gameplay is addictive, but after a little while it gets a bit repetitive and can get boring. Also, the fact there is practically no solid story contributes to this. Bugs and glitches are surprisingly frequent too with disappearing weapons, players getting stuck in doors with no way out, game freezes and quests not working. Being fair, these issues are acceptable, it is a big game, but the fact that they are so common really frustrates me and definitely ruins the experience and the atmosphere the game is supposed to create.


One of the other major highlights of the game is the online 4 player co-op multiplayer which unfortunately I haven't had a crack at yet. However, I can only imagine it is sheer madness and very fun mowing down the undead hordes together.


Sound


This part is really good. The sounds in this game creates the perfect atmosphere for what you'd expect in a zombie thriller game. Zombies make grunting, gnawing sounds and other disturbing noises which - especially in the darker areas - usually scares the hell out of me! One example of this is the 'Infected' type of zombie which makes a bloodcurdling scream whilst running at you full speed. Other than the obvious scary zombie sounds there is the island's ambiance with such sounds as the waves rolling in on the beach and the wind blowing through the palm trees. Later on in the game a monsoon hits which adds rain to the equation. There is some good voice acting and there's some bad voice acting but most of the time you'll just be hearing the groans from zombies so voice acting can be overlooked easily! I cannot say there is much wrong with the sound on this game. It's fits the game perfectly and does what it was designed for.




Overview


If you like gory games, enjoy melee combat and are fond of zombies and survival skills then this is the game for you. From what I've played I think it is a lot bigger and better than some of the other, similar games out there such as Dead Rising. The gameplay is addictive and destroying zombies with the massive amount of weapons is very fun. Banoi looks great and is fairly big with lots of places to check out. The story isn't solid and there are many glitches and bugs but at the centre of it all this game was designed for the player to have fun destroying zombie hordes and it definitely achieves that! Having said that I'd recommend only picking this up if you see it in a sale or it is fairly cheap otherwise your wasting your money here.


+ Banoi looks great and so does killing zombies
+ Gameplay is extremely addictive
+ Combat is not clunky and tuns smoothly even with lots of zombies
+ Sound creates the perfect atmosphere
- Bugs and glitches ruin the feeling
- Lack of solid storyline
- Too many NPCs look exactly the same


                                                                        My Rating: 7/10


1 comment:

Chalgyr Vokel said...

Good review. This is a title I keep meaning to rent/borrow/buy super cheap and just beat up on for a few days - I just haven't yet.