Dead Island Co-Op Review
The zombie genre is not dead.
Dead Island is great. Go buy it. There. That was easy. Oh- You want to know why? Well I'll tell you. Dead Island is a very good open world zombie survival game featuring a robust weapon crafting system and first person melee combat. It’s positively chock full of bloody undead chunks. As a single player experience it's fun (really fun), but not amazing. There are some minor flaws that keep it from becoming something truly special. As a co-op experience, Dead Island overcomes these flaws, nay, it strait up curb stomps them into a soupy red goo. Dead Island is one of the best co-op titles of the year.
If you’re playing Dead Island solo, you’re, as they say, "doing it wrong." Four players can get together in the undead sandbox of Banoi and transform a survival horror game into an all out action gorefest rife with zombie butchery. While my dreams of chucking zombie children off of hotel balconies may go unfulfilled, I did encounter a zombie near a cliff side. I shot him with my modified electric gun, broke one arm, chopped off another, embedded my poisonous machete in his head, lit him on fire with a Molotov cocktail, and finally kicked him off the side of the cliff. I then had to hop down that damn cliff to retrieve my "Toxic Military Machete." Purple text weapons don’t grow on trees, you know.
I hate saying that a game is a cross between game X and game Y, but writing this review is keeping me from Dead Island, so I’m going to do it anyway. I'd have to say the game reminds me of Borderlands mixed with your bloodiest zombie wet dreams and then infused with a healthy dose of first person, panicked, flailing, melee combat. There’s also hints of Fallout 3 in the game as well, both in terms of the RPG elements and the ridiculously gory violence. Top that all off with some gratuitous potty mouths and you’ve got a recipe for one Dead Island and a very Mature rating.
Sam B came here to drink beer and clobber zombies. And he's all out of beer.
You'll begin your adventure by choosing one of four characters. Each has their own special abilities you can enhance through three skill trees. The trees have the same titles across all four characters, (Fury, Combat, and Survival) but their individual skills vary greatly. Sam B is a blunt weapons brute. Logan is a weapon throwing pro. Purna is the firearm specialist, and Xian is a master of edged weapons. Anyone can use any weapon, so long as they meet the level requirements. Each character receives bonuses for using certain weapons. For example, Sam B’s first combat skill adds 5% damage to blunt weapon attacks.
I chose Xian in my first playthrough. She’s a nimble hellcat of a blade expert. Her Fury skill is a super powered knife assault. When activate, she can pretty much one shot almost anything in her way. Her Combat skills focus on edged and poison weapons, while here Survival skills focused on getting a higher yield from Med Kits. I tinkered with the other three characters, and they all have their own distinct abilities.
Your main mission is to survive and get off a beautiful tropical island that has become utterly zombified. Seems simple enough. But as is the nature of open world games and zombie apocalypses, there are scattered NPC’s who want you to do stuff for them. These missions have a lot of variety. You’ll be fixing a truck, looking for lost items or people, turning on this, making that, all while hacking, slashing, stomping, and bashing your way through the zombie hordes. There is even the occasional escort mission, and unlike every other escort mission ever, these don’t suck.