STAFF REVIEW of Dead Island (Xbox 360)

Monday, September 26, 2011.
by Brent Roberts

Dead Island Box art Have you ever had a bad vacation? Ever take a trip that you wish you hadn't in the first place? If a little garden gnome ever wishes to offer you a trip to the Island of Banoi, you tell him where he can stick that pointy red hat of his. Banoi is the setting for the action game Dead Island and offers you some of the most beautiful scenery you will ever see. Sure it's beyond gorgeous that is until you wake up after a wild night out and discover that you are smack in the middle of a mysterious virus outbreak that has turned most of the civilians into body devouring zombies. Get your bags packed as XboxAddict leads you through the lush, blood stained environment, and trust us, we don't bite.

Dead Island is an action based story with RPG qualities taken from some of the most popular games that we have seen today. In the beginning you assume the role of one of the four main characters who are apparently immune to this viral infection:

1) Xian Mei - who is an employee of the Royal Palms Resort who dreamed of seeing the world outside her homeland, but without zombies of course.

2) Sam B - A one hit rap artist trying to recover the stardom of his lost career, but something tells us he's never come across zombies at his after parties.

3) Logan - a former NFL star player who had his career cut short due to tragic choices he made, but redemption is something he's looking for, even if it's among the undead.


4) Purna - an ex-cop turned bodyguard for hire after leaving the police force. Do you suppose she's used to dealing with a hoard of the undead? Not likely.

As we stated earlier, when you start out on your journey, you awaken from a hard night of partying, only to find out that all hell has broken loose and it's up to you to progress through the story in order to discover the secret behind the mystery of this virus and see if it is possible to save these people, however, like the classic literature line goes, sometimes the best laid plans...

As we pick up our bags and head into this amazing island resort we must get accustomed to the gameplay involved with Dead Island. As we will be up against an island full of ravaging zombies we need one thing to guarantee our survival, weapons, weapons, and more weapons. Throughout the game you will obtain a variety of death dealing items that range from melee weapons to firearms and more. There are varying classes of weapons that range from the generic to rare and all can be used at your disposal to destroy any and all undead that impede your progress, but where the twist lies with this, is that your weapons will need to be repaired over time.

This is where Dead Island offers up a taste of its RPG offerings. If you use your weapon of choice a lot it can become damaged, and then broken which significantly reduces the pain you can dish out. Trust us, there is nothing like having a knife break in the middle of fighting multiple zombies at once and forcing the decision of "fight or flight" right into your face. Dead Island doesn't stop with weapon repairs though, each character has a multi skill tree that can be upgraded to not only enhance your own character, but provide key upgrades in various fields that can unlock new abilities. The way you unlock these new abilities is by earning EXP by doing side quest missions, but more importantly, killing everything that isn't human. The side missions are optional, however, they will allow you to explore more of the island and provide you rewards such as items, cash, and weapons.

When we say that the Island of Banoi is beautiful, what we mean is that this game is graphically amazing in every way. The water effects are done beautifully and the weather system brings the island alive and makes every moment a sight to behold, but where this game really shines is in the lighting department, not only with the rays of sunshine, but with the depths of darkness itself. Armed with a trusty flashlight when the light goes out, it's up to you to make the best use of any and all light that might shine through such as moonlight, the flickering light of a distressed work lamp, and more. Just remember, as breathtaking as the island is in the daylight, when the light goes out the island's beauty can be very deadly. Who knows what lurks in the dark corners, but it's up to you to find out.

Exploring the island can be a very peaceful experience that is until you hear the screams and cries of multiple zombies starting to charge you from all different directions hell bent on having you as a meal, or the pounding on a door of a zombie ready to burst out and separate your head from your body. The ambient sound is where a lot of Dead Island draws its potential from as you will hear waves crashing, birds chirping, and even wind blowing through the trees. All of this adds up to certify your horrifying zombie experience like never before as you will only sometimes hear suspenseful music and the vast majority you will have to keep an ear out for any outlying danger that may be right behind you and charging fast.

To be fair, when Dead Island shipped, it did have a fair share of issues, and to be honest some of them were game breaking, however most, if not all of the issues, have been resolved and Dead Island is shaping up to be a sleeper hit of 2011. From the incredible story, to the addition of the RPG elements such as individual character skill trees, weapon combining, and more, Dead Island proves that not only is the Island of Banoi a really poor choice for a summer vacation, but that Techland can deliver one of the best zombie experiences you will ever enjoy. Grab your boarding pass, your wits, and whatever weapon that?s within arm?s reach because my friend, the island is calling..

Overall: 8.8 / 10
Gameplay: 8.8 / 10
Visuals: 9.2 / 10
Sound: 8.5 / 10


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