Dead Island grabs your attention from the start. Before you even get to a menu, you are treated to a cutscene of your character stumbling around through a party on Banoi island (taking several swigs of whatever alcohol happens to be around him). After the character in the cutscene makes an ass of himself, he heads to his room to pass out. The reason this cutscene is incredibly confusing, is when you start the game, you start by waking up in the hotel room where this guy passes out. However, all four of the characters you can play as are all seen by this character in the cut scene. Still, I guess the important thing to take away from the intro is hell breaks loose at the party; you wake up in your hotel room, and have to try to piece together what took place, gather supplies, and make the best effort you can to survive.
All four initially playable characters have their own specialty:
Sam B – He is a washed-out rap star that relies on blunt-force attacks (pipes, brass knuckles, baseball bats, etc).
Purna – She was an ex-police officer and is currently the firearm specialist.
Logan – As an ex-football star, his strength is now in throwing objects.
Xian Mei – A martial arts expert working as an employee of the island’s resort, she is the best with bladed weapons.
While each character specializes in a particular type of weapon (not to mention has a skill tree that favors that particular specialty), any character can use any weapon. A knife in the hands of Sam B won’t dish out as much damage, or even last as long as it would in the hands of Xian Mei, for example.
The graphics in the game are easily among the best of this console generation. Everything from the incredible lighting engine to the wonderfully rendered flora, this game does not disappoint. Likewise, the attention to graphical detail is amazing: blood will splatter correctly as you melee/shoot enemies, the amount of ambient light will vary in real-time depending on the quantity of steam/smoke/fog, your weapon will show visible signs of wear the more it’s used, explosions will alter your vision depending on how close you are to the initial blast, entire vehicle interiors are modeled (you can even look behind the seats while you drive), and much more.
There are some issues with the visuals that are important to note:
#1: occasionally it will start to rain in the environment. The rain looks great in the sky and all around you, but you never see the drops splashing on any surfaces. Everything in the environment remains absolutely dry. Perhaps they should have left the rain aspect out?
#2: When you fast travel or load a new area, the game suffers from severe texture pop-in. Luckily, loading doesn’t take place very often other than when you are dealing with the sewer environments (there aren’t even that many fast-travel locations), or heading to one of the other primary environments (the game is divided into three primary areas, the resort, the jungle, and the city).
#3: Some of the indoor textures are bland, primarily carpet, interior walls, desk items, and other furniture. Usually, this is made up for by adding crazy lighting to the rooms, but in some locations these textures really show.
#4: With how detailed everything is and how taxing the game must be on 5+ year old hardware, they have to use tricks to hide imperfections. As an example, the developers opted to add a minor “blur” effect when turning quickly so as to mask the screen tearing that takes place.
Like a general role playing game, you will get your tasking from “quest givers.” The game is comprised of your main quest, side quests, and continuous quests. When you speak with a quest giver, your only communication options are “yes” or “no.” There is no detailed dialogue system here.
Your main quest primarily involves you helping various pockets of survivors try to escape, resupply, and defend themselves. If you are only interested in the main questline, you can probably clear the game in around 15 hours.
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