No big news, Zombies are popular nowadays. But Dead Island has been in development for... 5 years i think. So it doesn't follow much the Zombie games of those last years: The popular Left 4 dead, the not-so-zombie Killing floor, and CoD's "crap n cashmachine" zombie mod, which are mostly about bashing zombies without thinking much (Though, i like 2 of those 3). I'm sure all of you have seen and remember this trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZqrG1bdGtg Kind of a sad and emotional trailer, so (some) peoples expected a game about survival, and a more "realistic" zombie apocalypse (A bit like the 'still in development' indie Dead State, and Project Zomboid) but the game is not. Still... the game is better than most actual Zombie games.
The game is closer to Borderlands than any of the game named above. You have quest, experiences, loots, and a wide open map to explore. It may sound weird for a zombie game, but it's not such a bad idea actually. Though i would have liked a zombie game a la S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
You play as one of the 4 characters: Xian Mei, the nice Asian girl. Sam B, the New Orleans rap falling star. Logan, the NFL star with a broken knee. And Purna, the former Australian police officer. They are a bit... cliché: Black rapper, Nice looking Asian, White guy with the biggest ego ever (Woot, like me). Though, most of them just failed in their life. Sam B only made one big song ("Who do you voodoo, bitch") Logan, destroyed his career in a street race, and Purna did shot down an *sshole. Each of them have a specific skill tree, and each of those tree have three branch: Fury, Combat, and Survival.
The Fury branch is for your only active skill "Fury" which turn you into some sort of Chuck Norris, being able to kill Zombies like in Left 4 dead. But only for a really short time. The Combat branch is... about combat. Stronger damage, better throwing range, or that kind of stuff... The Survival branch help you gain experience faster, find better loot, carry more stuff, etc...
Talking about carrying stuff... You can carry like 12 different weapons or Healing items... Which is already a lot. But you can carry an infinite number of resources items (Battery, hose, etc) Vortex pockets?
For the combat... In Dead Island, encountering more than 5 zombies at the same time can be somewhat deadly. You won't be able to kill 15 zombies in one swing of your Frying pan... Except maybe if you are super high level, and playing on the game of a low level friend. But you will never see 15 zombies in the same spot (Thanks god...) The game have multiples big area (Resort, City, and Jungle, being the 3 main one) and each of them have more or less zombies. The Resort is open, and well lit, so you won't have much problems with the small groups or lone zombies, except those hiding in bushes... Which will make you miss an heartbeat once in a while. The Jungle don't have that much zombies, but they are in bigger groups. And the city... damn the city... Streets, car wrecks everywhere, creepy light and sounds... Permanently surrounded by shambling zombies... And even if you see a small group of zombies (2-3) you can be pretty damn sure that one or two zombies will come out from nowhere and beat your ass up while fighting the said small group. Instant f*ck up.
You will find small healing items often at first (Food, such as apple, energy drink, etc) but will be rare later on... You will also rarely find health pack. And i'm not going to talk about ammunition and firearms... No Left 4 dead syndrome with fully loaded weapons, ammo and health pack every 10 meters. It's a resort island after all...
There is different zombies, with different way to fight them: -The Walker, as the name say, he is mostly walking, slow, and only do a small run when close to you. They are the really bottom of the "zombie army". No big deal. -The Infected, they are kinda weak, but punch you so fast sometimes... they can be deadly. Even more in the city. They see you from really far, and run as fast, if not faster, than you. They can climb and all... They are close to what the zombies of Left 4 dead are... But in Expert difficulty.
Those two are the most common zombies, but there is some rarer zombies (Thug, Ram, Floater, etc...) which can be a pain in the bum sometimes. But i won't talk about them. You know... Surprise. Only one thing about one of them: The Suicider... Remember this missing heartbeat with the zombie hiding in a bush earlier? Well, there, you will miss two or three heartbeat later in the game.
The atmosphere of the game is quite good. The island is damn nice... If it wasn't for the zombies i would totally like to spend a week or two there. Also, you really feel the apocalypse going around you... Everything as been left behind in a rush, corpse here and there, half eaten. Car wrecks, and abandoned luggage... etc... It's actually better than in Left 4 dead. The few survivors you will find really look and sound like peoples trying to survive in a devastated area. Pretty much like you would encounter them in some real life event (Earthquake, etc) asking you for food, weapons, or a safe place to rest. Some of them also completely lost their minds, and ask you to retrieve some weird stuff of their, such as a Teddy bear, or just sitting there... waiting for a sure painful death. Also, little detail, the zombies have different look, depending where you will find them. In the Resort part, they will be wearing swimsuit and what not. While in the city they will wear normal clothes. They also have different faces, wound, and cloth. You will find some clones, but it won't be that obvious.
The game is also really gory. More than left 4 dead 2. If you set a zombie on fire, you will see his clothes and skin melting slowly, while the zombie emit a creepy scream. You will also literally crack open their heads with one well placed hit with some random blunt weapon. And Legs and arms will rain with one (homemade) grenade. Also, fun fact: Zombies can drown.
One of the main feature of the game is to build your own weapons. You will find common items such as shovels, and pipes almost everywhere and use them as weapons. But firearms are really rare. And any of those (Even the firearms) can be modified into a deadlier weapons with some resources items you may have found along your way. You will also need blueprints to make them. Example: A baseball bat, a circular blade, some duct tape, battery and wire... Picture it. Now: That it's just one of the easiest blueprints to find. You can also make "elemental" weapons, such as electricity , or fire weapons. That's quite funny actually. My favorite is probably the Phoenix mod and Striker mod... You'll see.
As for the story... You are just some survivors, lucky enough to be immune to the infection (Else... the game would be really hard... or impossible) and try to get the hell out of this island at all cost. You have one main quest, which will let you go through the story "quickly". And a lot of sidequests, which let you gather more experiences, money, and items. The main plot won't lead you to every corner of the island, neither the sidequest will, so you have to wander a little to find some hidden quests. You will also find some collectibles, such as Recordings, and Facts, which will add a little to the story of the island and the apocalypse. If you try to do the game at 100% (With one character) you are good for a 40 hours of play time. At least. (You know why this test come so late after the game is out now)
The musics are nice. The background sounds in the city are creepy, even in day lights. And you can hear zombies from really far sometimes. And you will recognize what type of zombies it is. Some of your modified weapons will permanently emit a sound (The electric weapons will emit a buzz sound, as an example) but it's discreet enough to don't completely drive you mad. And have some Sam B song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YA32ABtHu2Y
One bad thing though: Even if the devs say that the game is not a Console port, the game feel like it is sometimes. You select your weapons with a wheel... wut? And there is not that much keys used...
Final words: The game is good. It's not a super survival game, or deep connection and psychological game (Though, some part are kind of sad. Not Sad "Buwaaaah" more like "Ah, damn...") but it's not a big slaughterhouse either. You will kill a lot of zombies, that's for sure, but in 40 hours, that was expected. Sometimes you will try to avoid a group of zombies, instead of fighting them. And sometimes you will try to fight 5 of them, and die because you thought it was Left 4 dead... The game can be played solo or cooperatively, though i suggest to either play alone or with a friend that play like you the first time. Because some random peoples will probably start your quest, skip the cinematic, rush the game, etc... So if you are more into a little role-play, listening to the NPCs, and watching cinematic, it will not be as enjoyable if you play with random peoples.
If you liked Borderlands for his Quests, Experiences, and Loots, you should try Dead Island. If you want a zombie game with some zombie bashing, without being a total blood fest, you should also try it. If you want a zombie game with a nice atmosphere... Also try it. But if you want a deep survival game, or horror game, you... should try it... You may like it after all, even if it's no big survival and horror.
Personally, for 50€, it's a good game. Try it at a friend's house if you are not sure that you will like it. Because i'm sure everyone have a friend who own a copy of Dead Island.