Console: 360, PS3, PC
Synopsis: You play one of a team of four people whom wake up one morning in the hotel resort on the island of Banoi, where you were holidaying. Suddenly, you have a voice directing you out of the hotel, which is now infested with zombies. So this, like many games of the same ilk, has you working through a plot whose ultimate goal is to escape before you yourself are zombie chowder.
I am quite a zombie aficionado. I have observed the ravages of the T-Virus. I have seen the dead attack a lonely house in the middle of nowhere, shopping malls, and army facilities. I have followed the adventures of Rick Grimes and Frank West. I know what happens both 28 days and 28 weeks later. Most importantly, I have remained faithful to the quest of preparing for the zombie apocalypse whilst Stephanie Myer has tried to tell us that vampires that turn into diamonds in the sunlight are a greater threat.
So a game based upon being trapped on an island while the zombie threat is increasingly dangerous seemed a sure-fire winner to me. More so when the original copies that were on the shelves disappeared very quickly, and it was months before another copy was available for purchase. Surely the poor reviews I read had to be from the non-believers?? Now, with sequel Riptide on its way, I felt it high time to find out for myself, and multiple copies now at Gametraders Blacktown made that a reality.
In the end, there is nothing exceptionally wrong with the game. It delivers exactly what it promises, with challenge increasing as the hordes of zombies get larger. There is a suitable plot to lead you to the path to your eventual escape. There is a free-roaming map to explore with multiple side missions. For me, the problem with it is that there is little more than that.
What separates the brilliant zombie games, features and TV series from the mediocre are big twists and interesting characters. The first game I ever completed all achievements on was the original Dead Rising. Frank West was an interesting character with a good sense of humour. The shopping mall setting lent itself to a lot of humour, such as dressing Frank in absurd outfits. The saving survivors subplot was a natural progression, and the variety of personalities you met made up for the fact that getting them to safety was incredibly frustrating, given that they were always putting themselves in the way of danger.
In the end, with Dead Island, it just came to the point that I just did not care about my survivors plight. The gameplay was incredibly repetitive, and the plot had only enough flesh to get from point A to point B, and was simply a compilation of stories that had been done so much better previously.
Riptide may still be worth a look. The developers just need to make sure to focus on story and character as much as they did on interesting free-roam capability.
3 stars out of 5