Imagine you’ve saved for months and months and you’re finally able to take that vacation to a tropical island paradise like you’ve always dreamed of. You start packing your bags and your head gets filled with thoughts of white sand and fruity cocktails with paper umbrellas in them. Your plane hits the ground, and after checking into your hotel, you head off to the beach when all of a sudden you’re being swarmed by dozens of bloodthirsty zombies. I hate it when that happens!
Dead Island is a first-person, open world action RPG which takes place on the fictional island of Banoi, off the coast of Papua New Guinea. The game starts at the Royal Palms resort near the beginning of a mysterious outbreak of the undead. It’s your task to help any survivors you come across, discover the origins of the infection, and make it out alive.
In Dead Island you, and up to 3 other players in online drop in-drop out Co-Op, can choose to play as one of four characters who each has a different set of skills and specialties.
Xian Mei: After her father, a police officer in Hong Kong, was killed in the line of duty, she dedicated her life to following in his footsteps, eventually becoming a member of China’s first all-female Special Forces squad. Instead of being deployed with the military, she was assigned to the Royal Palms resort on Banoi to spy on wealthy westerners. She is a bladed weapons specialist.
Sam B: A one-hit wonder rap star who has fallen on hard times. After he’s unable to follow up on the success of his one and only hit, he’s forced to take on a gig at the resort just to make it by. He’s an expert in blunt weapons.
Logan Carter: A star player in the NFL whose career was cut short after a drug and alcohol fueled car wreck. After the accident he had no choice than to try and bank on what little recognition his name had left and sell sports memorabilia. More recently he lent his name to a nationwide blood drive, which got him an all-expenses paid trip to Banoi as a thank you. Being a former football star, it just makes sense his specialty is thrown weapons.
Purna: A former Australian police officer whose career ended after she took the law into her own hands against a politically connected child molester. She now works as a high-end bodyguard. She’s a specialist in firearms.
One of the more pressing questions when it comes to anything zombie related is “What kind are they?” Well, Dead Island seems to have all its bases covered on that front. It features classic Romero style shufflers as well as the more modern fast moving variety. In addition to those there are also more powerful special types of zombies. The Ram, for example, is a large hulking brute that’s armored in the front and can only be harmed by attacking a weak spot on its back.
Anything you can get your hands on can become a weapon in Dead Island. From baseball bats to sledgehammers to katanas, you can scour the environment for tools of destruction. While the game does have a heavy focus on melee combat, there are also guns available. All the old favorites make an appearance, shotguns, assault rifles, desert eagles, the gang’s all here. These weapons are much rarer than the rest because, well, most people don’t bring a shotgun to the beach.
In addition to finding weapons in the environment, and having them drop as loot off defeated enemies, there’s also a crafting system. You can make fairly standard weapons, like combining a box of nails with a baseball bat to get a spiked baseball bat for example. However, it’s also possible to create weapons that are a little more out there. When you combine several different items with a machete you can create an electric machete, which not only hacks and slashes, but also electrocutes enemies to make them unable to move.
On top of all that you can also throw a majority of the weapons in the game. Small weapons, like throwing knives and machetes, can easily be used in this capacity. But if need be, you can also chuck something a little heavier. Let’s say you want to take a zombie down from a distance, but all you have on you is a sledgehammer. Well, no problem. Just toss it at him to knock him down, and then move in, pick it back up and brutally finish him off.
Speaking of brutality, Dead Island has it in spades. And it’s not just window dressing, either. Say you’ve come face to face with a fast mover and you want to slow his progress towards you a little bit; just focusing on taking the legs out and leave him crawling toward you as a much slower pace. And if you really want to have some fun, proceed to take the arms off as well to leave nothing but a bitey torso.
When you start Dead Island your character is a total novice when it comes to killing zombies, but every kill you make nets you experience which you can use to level up your character to take on tougher enemies and explore areas that you previously couldn’t. Once you’ve leveled up you can also go back to areas you had trouble with to exact some revenge on enemies that gave you problems in the past.
Dead Island looks like it could be the real deal. It features a lengthy campaign that can be played either single player or online Co-Op, a huge island to explore, countless zombies to slay, and copious amounts of loot (and who doesn’t love loot?). If this all comes together we could have something special on our hands here. And let’s be honest, who among us hasn’t fantasized about a vacation to a tropical island where all there is to do is take on an army of the undead?
Dead Island shuffles (or sprints, whichever your preference) into stores on September 6th 2011.
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