Published on June 9th, 2016 | by Scot Mackay0
Review: Dead Island: Definitive Collection
I stroll down the hot yellow sand, feeling it slide between my toes as I look at the blistering Sun. Taking a swig of my energy drink to quench my thirst and regain some of my health, I give a little chuckle to myself before slamming my sledgehammer into the head of a sneaky speedo wearing meat-bag that decided to try and have me for its dinner.
Ladies and Gentlemen, here we have the product of a partnership between Techland and Deep Silver.
Obviously I am talking about Dead Island: The Definitive Collection which has been released on 31st of May for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
A thing that I love about this game is that it has taken the zombie out of the darkness and given the player a very different setting to explore and enjoy while satisfying the player’s need for bone crunching, head slicing, knee crippling and nipple tweaking. Okay so you can’t do the last one but it be great if you could, DLC maybe?
Like any good zombie set up, you need a location, a reason and a way out in an explicably difficult location.
Dead Island refers to the beautiful Island of Banoi, a tropical island set in the region of Papua New Guinea. This is an island with stunningly beautiful beaches, a rich, dense jungle and mountainous regions which offer up varied exploration ranging from the Hotel resort you are staying at to Medical Labs and Jungle villages. All of which have been affected by a plague like outbreak causing the Zombie flash mobs.
Our Hero’s (survivors is more apt) are a mixed bunch and almost mirror our quartet from Left 4 Dead.
Sam B. (My favourite) is a One hit wonder of a rapper with an attitude and the desire to make it back to the top of the charts.
Xian Mei is our meek hotel receptionist who just so happens to be an undercover spy for the Chinese Government because…well…why the Hell not?
Purna is an ex-cop with a proficiency in firearms which will come in handy over your little tropical head popping adventure.
And…Logan, who is an asshole ex-football star with an addiction for mixing his drinks and downing pills like their M&M’s.
Each of our survivors are immune to the outbreak and through the help of other lucky survivors like John Sinamoi, who want to escape the island in the most sensible way possible, by getting to a secure location, gathering supplies before figuring out the next move.
With the Hotel complex you are staying at being overrun, you clear a path for the other survivors who are lucky to be alive but do not have immunity, to a close by lifeguard station to make use of the radio to call for help or at the very least, find out if anyone else is alive on the island.
It’s from talking to the small group of people that you will gain side missions to go question for someone’s favourite Teddy bear to hunting down friends that were left back at their lodge. It’s worthwhile doing these quests as they get you to explore the surrounding area and help levelling up your character’s skill tree to make you less survivor and more of a meat grinding, hand of God death dealer.
After progressing enough, it’s time to move on to other locations including a close by city called Moresby, which just so happens to not only be plagued by our friendly neighbourhood flesh eaters but also local ‘Raskol’ gangs (because apparently within a day of social disorder, everyone goes full Mad Max). These gangs are a bigger pain in the ass than the zombies. With enough intelligence, some of these guys keep their distance and shoot you as other run towards you to carve you up. Some new Zombie types are discovered here just to shift the tempo including the Ram (take a guess why).
From here, new characters are introduced to further bolster the story and give you a bit more direction and purpose. This includes pointing you in the direction of a prison Island to find a cure for the infection. Only downside to this is that fact you need to get there through the jungle and a laboratory that has been studying the virus but more importantly…. the cure.
This information is given to you by Colonel Ryder White, a Banoi Island Defence Force (BIDF) commander who is currently on the prison island. He has his own reasons for wanting the cure, I mean, of course he does. We need a villain!!
Rest assured our zombie zingers escape on a chopper and head towards freedom…. but this is the definitive version so there is more.
There is …. Dead Island: Riptide
Set directly after DI, our unlucky foursome land on a military ship owned by the Australian Defence Force who were seemingly tasked with providing aid to a stricken island close by but end up being stopped by a character named Frank Serpo and re-tasked for ‘other means’.
After being tranquilized, examined and thrown in the ships brig while you recuperate, your eyes open to the sound of alarms and a disturbing lack of soldier presence. Guess what, Zombies are aboard and decide to start chomping their way through the crew. Grab a weapon, you know the drill.
Our new frenemy Serpo steps up in a big way here and with plans for his company to turn the zombie virus (Kuru) into a weapon and nuke the island of Banoi and another infected island called Palanai to eradicate the infection, our hero’s realise that the zombies aren’t the real monsters. Evil wears a human face…. well, not for long. We know he can’t get a nice ending and after exploring the city of Henderson and some creepy underground storage tunnels, that is exactly what happens.
DI:DC is a First person view adventure, survival, crafting, zombie slayer. With focus on melee combat, there are discoverable firearms and explosives available but I found ammo hard to come by and even when I did, I wasn’t very accurate and resorted to the kick-slap technique. You will know what I mean by that as it seems the most natural way of fighting the zombies off straight away.
Every bit of abandoned luggage, trash bin and drink coolers offer up goodies ranging from money which, in turn, you can use to by better weaponry and various components like wire, nails and batteries which you can use to craft new weapons and upgrade them too.
You can face the hordes alone and struggle under the sheer weight of some of the larger groups of zombies, or you can do the clever thing and call on a friend to help…or better yet, call on three other friends to join in. There is a direct feel to Left 4 Dead but DI:DC doesn’t have that frantic gameplay style. If players work together well, it makes light work of some of the tougher enemies such as the ‘Thug’ zombies who require a good kneecapping to take down. Think Shaun of the dead when Shaun and Ed battering the old Zombie Bar Keep with cricket bats and pool cues to the tune of Queens ‘Don’t Stop me now’.
I absolutely adore the fact that whilst the zombie genre has literally and figuratively been done to death, I enjoyed pretty much every minute of this game. I love the fact that the zombies haven’t been relegated to hiding in the dark all of the time. I love the fact I can sprint full speed before giving a Hulk Hogan style boot to the face before finishing them with a Gears of War style stomp to the back of the head. It’s just enjoyable.
I also love the fact that I feel that DI:DC is a lovingly designed game with a play area that feels truly open world even though you are funnelled down certain avenues to keep the action going. With the outside areas offering you a clear line of sight and giving you the best chance to see enemies coming, this is a stark contrast to when you are moving through the overrun hotel rooms and kitchens, glancing at shadows as you know that when you stop looking, you will be pounced upon.
A downside of DI:DC stems mostly from its combat. Whilst many parts of it, I enjoy. There is a distinct lack of unique looking attacks and choosing any particular character for their strengths does not really have any impact on the gameplay or your playstyle in any way. Sam B, the blunt weapons specialist swings a sledgehammer exactly the same way our marksman Purna does.
The only other thing that became little more than an annoyance to me was the animation of being knocked down by the ‘Thug’ zombies. Once you are tagged with a cheeky backhander from one of these brutes, you are knocked to the ground where you struggle back to your feet. Now I am all for realism but it feels like it takes too long to get back onto your feet and back into the action. It just feels like it throws of some of the timing that you naturally begin to get a feel for in playing the game.
The last thing I could pick up on was the fact that I sang “Who do you Voodoo” for at least a week afterwards. I can’t help it…its catchy, don’t judge me.
Is this game worth buying? Playing?
Yes, quite simply. It’s a game I thoroughly enjoyed and whilst I can’t call it a remastered version as the graphical improvements aren’t that dramatic, I think it could really have a fresh lease of life on PS4, XBONE and PC.
I’ve seen prices ranging from £24 to £29.99 online but I think these will come down over the next few weeks as like any great story driven game, it will be one you play and then it will sit on your shelf for a few months. Playing with friends does help with the games longevity but with little in the way of having varying game types, this will quickly grow stale after the main quest has been completed.
It’s an enjoyable zombie romp across beautifully rendered locations with a cast of characters that come into their own through their back stories and audio comments throughout the game.
Summary: Pack your suntan lotion as this is a beautiful package showing that there is still lots of life left in the zombie genre yet.