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Dead Island XBox 360 Review - -
Dead Island
Reviewed by
James Wright
Dead Island XBox 360 Review. I have not had this much fun with a zombie game in quite some time and if you're looking for some great first person action, than Dead Island is that game!

Gameplay 8.5
Graphics 8.5
Sound 8.0
Value 8.5
Distributor: QVS
Review Date:
September 2011
James Wright


Dead Island

Not another bloody Zombie game!!! It seems that zombies are quite fashionable in the world of gaming and movies at the moment and as a hardcore gamer, zombies are like a staple diet for gaming and besides... we all enjoy dispatching a zombie or two... but with Dead Island, this is probably in the high hundreds! Over the last few months, Dead Island has been hyped up considerably and from all the screenshots, interviews and trailers, this game soon became one of the most anticipated titles of 2011. Needless to say, I've been playing games for over a couple of decades now and I can safely say that Dead Island has definitely lived up to the hype, if not more. Dead Island was the release that the gaming world needed and developers Techland have delivered with this entertaining and sometimes frustrating experience as we slaughter zombies and attempt to save a handful of survivors on this remote tropical island.

Originally, I was given Resistance 3 to review on the PS3, however due to the extremely slow update, around 600MB, I decided to swap to Dead Island. Needless to say, I have not looked back and Dead Island is a far more enjoyable and playable game. The game begins with a rather impressive introduction that follows an intoxicated person through a night club on this tropical resort as they attempt to dance, chat up people and eventually get pushed off the stage by the band, just in time to pass out. The song played by the band is “Who do you Voodoo” which really sets the atmosphere of the game and got stuck in my head for days! This is a precursor to game and just before you pass out, you witness a zombie attacking someone in the night club. Unfortunately for the staff and guests of the Royal Palms Resort on the tropical and fictional island of Banoi (somewhere near Fiji), the sh*t has really hit the fan.

From here you need to select your character and when you do wake, you discover that the island has gone to hell. Bodies are littered through the hotel and it’s like the island has been invaded by soldiers but unfortunately these soldiers are the walking dead. This is the moment your heart rate begins to climb and there are many moments like this in the game. So if you have any heart conditions… you might to keep playing Solitaire. The reason why you are the primary protagonist in the game is because you are somehow immune to the effects of the zombies, so no matter how many times you are bitten, you will not change. In essence, you cannot die in Dead Island as there is plenty of health littered throughout the game from energy drinks to first aid packs. Even if you “die”, you only receive a cash penalty. Once you figure this out, this does lessen the impact of your experience but thankfully the gameplay is so fun, that you just want to keep playing.

There are four characters that you can choose to play in Dead Island, each with a diverse history which include Logan, Purna, Sam and Xian Mei, each with their own histories and strengths. Logan is a former NFL player and is not only built like a tank but his skill is throwing weapons. Purna, my favourite is an ex Detective from Sydney Australia whose specialty is firearms. As mentioned, each of the characters has an in-depth history that really plays no part to the overall gameplay but does help get you acquainted to the characters. Purna is quite a disheartened woman who grew up racially abused as an Aboriginal and was unjustly discharged from the police force.  She has attitude which is probably why I selected her... not to mention her firearm skills. Unfortunately there are not many firearms on the island!

Sam is another of the playable characters who is a rap artist and likes hitting things with blunt weapons. He is probably the ideal choice for gamers as there is a considerable amount of blunt objects lying around on this island. Finally we have Xian Mei, one of the employees of the Royal Palms Resort and with her life thrown into turmoil, her speciality are knives and other sharp objects. The characters also have some slightly different statistics but in the overall scheme of things and with the RPG element, you can customise the skills and abilities to your own personal pathways like survival or combat or a combination of both. There are a total of three paths that you can follow, however you can mix and match the skills under these paths such as firearms or something more entertaining like super kick.

After you make your first Zombie kill and get the knack of the controls of Dead Island, it's time to help liberate the survivors of this resort and hopefully get assistance from the outside. There are a variety of missions in the game and by speaking with NPC's, they will give you a mission which explains the task, the difficulty and experience points. Although most characters will just complain or break down about the situation, there are some characters that will be quite helpful in giving you a mission and along the way, there’s plenty to be found or upgraded. With this said, all the objects in the Dead Island are quite useful and whether its upgrading your weapons or finding an object for an NPC, they all have a purpose. Upgrading weapons is the key however. By upgrading, this allows you to customise your favourite weapon and even though weapons have a set number of times that they can be used, these can be fixed at various repair benches.

The currency in the game is cash and looting bodies and suitcases sometimes seems to go on forever but thankfully you have an almost never ending carry bag for objects but in terms of weapons, these are limited to a set number of slots. As brooms and paddles break so often, even metal pipes, you can keep another weapon as a backup which does assists when you go against this never ending hoard of enemies. As the weapon creation system is similar to Dead Rising, Dead Island just seems more realistic and like those classic Romero horror films due to the realism employed in the game thanks to the first person perspective.

Combat is quite bloody and violent in Dead Island. As you hack, smash and shoot these zombies, the first thing that you will notice is the realistic damage mechanics. You can even target certain parts of a zombie such as their limbs and even decapitations are possible. If a zombie does come too close, they will lunge at you and you virtually need to punch them off you which is actually quite scary as it’s in a first person perspective. Zombies in the game are not that varied and every now and then, you'll face a tougher undead thug which does take some strategy as opposed to just bashing them over the head repeatedly. Nothing is more fun than throwing a gas bottle at a zombie to knock it over and then use one of your last bullets on it to explode it. Boom! Deodorant bottles work just as well!  Zombies are easy to fight one on one but when they surround you, discretion is often the better part of valour… for example, RUN! In order to maintain your weapons, once you have knocked a zombie down and as they slowly clamour back up, you can keep kicking them until they die. Alternatively, if you knock them into water, they will also die.

As the game is in a first person perspective, the way your character interacts with the environment is quite realistic and sometimes you need to wiggle the right analog stick up and down to break down a door or perform some other interactive event. If you want to build up your experience points, driving cars is the way to go as you run over these hideous living dead. In terms of experience points, these points can be used to upgrade certain skills of your character and I was quite surprised at the customisation options available to the player. All in all, the gameplay comes together rather well but the only drawback to the game is the sometime repetitive nature of the missions and the combat. I know it’s hard to keep a game about zombies entertaining from start to finish but Techland almost succeeded!


Graphically, Dead Island is a stunning looking game that really mimics this fictional resort quite well. At times, you can just sink in all the rays as you overlook the tropical bay or some other area like a swimming pool with its tropical huts around it. There are also some great lighting and water effects employed into the title that helps with the immersion of the overall game. The highlights in the game are the various zombies that you face that have all been extremely well animated from zombies that sort of stumble towards you or those that run at you... which is still quite scary. The downside to the graphics is that some of the "human" characters seem a little too dead, especially their lacklustre eyes and also the lip syncing seems to be out every now and then. Another problem with the graphics are the pop-ups on the 360 version. Even so, it’s a very good looking game.

Voice acting of Dead Island is pretty damn horrendous. As the game is based on this fictional tropical island with Australia as its closest major country, the majority of characters are Australian. Unfortunately all the voice actors in this game over emphasise the Australian accent, so be prepared to hear words such as "mate" quite often or over exaggeration of letters as they speak. Obviously this is how we sound to the rest of the world! It is truly horrendous! Thankfully the sound effects and background ambient noises help in completing the gameplay. A special mention should be made about the theme song to Dead Island which rocks. Also, Dead Island makes great use of your surround sound system so be prepared to be blown away as you hear the grunts and screams of these zombies.

Final Thoughts

Dead Island is a brilliant game and if you want to take this game one step further, the cooperative mode online truly transcends the single-player experience. Although the gameplay and story around single-player is entertaining, playing with other people online enhances the survival horror experience, especially when you're playing with strangers as you're trying to complete objectives and save lives. Once you have finished the single-player game, there is so much to do via multiplayer that you might be playing Dead Island for a considerable amount of time. My only problem with the game, besides the horrendous Australian accents is the inability to save where you want and once you have started a mission, you pretty much need to complete it for it to auto-save. If you “die”, the game throws you back to the closest checkpoint which may not have been the path you travelled but thankfully there is a map with a bread crumb trail. However apart from that, I have not had this much fun with a zombie game in quite some time and if you're looking for some great first person action, than Dead Island is that game! Wow... what a ride, for some good old fashioned Zombie action.


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