Dead Island is an open world action RPG, that finds you trapped on a tropical paradise in the midst of a zombie apocalypse.
The teaser trailer for Dead Island was probably the viral gaming video of 2011, with its dramatic reverse slow motion story. Enigmatic and touching, it got people really excited about the game. When you first start Dead Island, it's clear this is more of a gory b-movie of a game than the trailer seemed to say. However, this is no bad thing.
The start of Dead Island is pleasantly short - there's a cut scene in a club, then you are thrown into the midst of a Zombie-ridden world. Choosing one of four characters, who serve as RPG classes each with different specialties like guns or knives, you meet a group of survivors who give you background information while asking for your help. You have to find a way of getting yourselves off this island!
Dead Island's missions mean you have to leave the safety of the survivor's camps and head out into the wild, to find objects, people or complete tasks. Killing zombies is the main part of Dead Island, and developer Deep Silver have really got this right.
Close combat is most common, and you'll use everything from knives to crowbars and oars to kill the undead. The combat is satisfying and loads of fun. You can slow Zombies down by attacking their legs, build up your rage meter to perform special attacks, for example, or be more creative like throwing a knife at a zombie, then getting in close, removing it and beheading it! Controls takes a few minutes to get used to, but are great once you've got the hang of them.
The RPG element of Dead Island means you build up XP points for completing missions and killing zombies etc, and you can spend these points to increase the skills and specialties of your character. There is also weapons crafting, and plenty of stuff to find lying around the tropical island, from car parts to money, energy drinks and of course useful items for creating weapons.
Dead Island features cooperative multiplayer modes, which you can drop into or out of when you like. You can see on the map when players are nearby, and immediately join them to complete tasks and take on Zombies. It can be annoying if other players are unhelpful or disappear, but overall cooperative play is great fun, and makes the frightening Island feel a little friendlier!
While our review copy had a few bugs and glitches, and the game does have a b-movie cheapness to it, this can't ruin what is at heart an excellent action RPG. Dead Island is long, consistently fun to play and really atmospheric. What more could you want?