Dead Island (PC) – Review


You may well remember a certain trailer that received widespread acclaim and made many people aware of the Dead Island title.  Well it’s now been released (rather shakily at that!) and is receiving all manner of attention; the dev-build that was released for PC users naturally upset the early buyers, and then the “Feminist Whore” issue was brought to light. Yes it’s been an interesting start… But they say there’s no such thing as bad press.

The truth is I do enjoy Dead Island. That said, for what you’re about to go on to read you could easily think I don’t.  And I do have to say utterly frankly that there are a number of things about the game that irk me more than a little.

Well.. Let's get graverobbin'!

First though let’s cover what I believe is decent about it. The zombies. Actual zombies! Slow, shuffling, stupid, grabbing, biting living dead.  The majority of them are old school, but you do get the occasional “Infected” charging at you screaming.  I think they’ve hit a good balanced frequency between them, and there’s a definite sense of satisfaction when you put your boot up to stop one sprinting towards you before clubbing them in the face with a wrench.

Or before getting your face bitten off!

For my own playthrough I’d chosen Logan, labelled as the Throwing Expert.  He comes with a neat ability called Boomerang, which will occasionally have your weapons return to you after you’ve hurled them at your foe.  This generally meant that, while equipping perhaps one or two blunt weapons I would have various pointy things to throw and (usually) stick into whatever is coming at me. And, unless Boomerang worked particularly well, I’d have to pull out all of my pointy things that were lodged into the fully lifeless corpse.

Ultimately the combat needed to be good for Dead Island, as that’s one of the strongest factors going for it.

Whilst talking of weapons, you can find various components to use for weapons blueprints, such as a Deo-Bomb. Just find two cans of deodorant and some duct tape and you’re set to go! This did mean I spent a good portion of time at the start of the game, as many others probably will, just unzipping all the suitcases scattered in the hotel and picking up lots of wallets and scrap.  But it did also give me reason to smile at the silliness when the first time I searched a computer I found a magnet inside.

And if creation isn't your thing you can always kick if Freeman style.

The story isn’t bad, and the quests are pretty enjoyable.  The way you can simply stumble upon them is nice too. For example I was driving in my (completely battered) truck to find some supplies, I suddenly hear someone yelling asking me to help, and so out I got and hopped off merrily to the dirt path after her.  I did of course remain ready to fling my knives at anything sudden. I mean it is the end of the world after all.  She might want to steal my knives!

Most of my own personal complaints about the game are perhaps smaller than those you may read elsewhere, but in my own experience of it there’s two things that minorly bug me and one that seriously annoys me.

The two minor points are: 1) You can’t look behind yourself whilst driving a truck. This might not be all bad if you could use the mirrors, but they’re just blackened over.  As I say it’s a minor point, but does lead to some Austin Powers style reversing.

Fire pretty.

2) You can’t select weapons by numbers on your keyboard.  Console players might not especially be bothered, but there’s a reason people buy games for PCs. It affords you a greater level of control and precision.  After all, auto-aim is probably only in this game for the console players. I’d turn it off if I could, but it doesn’t bug me much. Back to the weapons – If you’re a thrower like me, you’d want to use up all your blades before getting out the blunts. What Dead Island appears to do is default to your best weapon. So each time I threw a sickle or a cleaver it would pull out a wrench, which I’d want to save til last!

Considering the current methods of switching weapons (on a PC) is clicking the middle mouse button, or holding it down for a radial menu while zombies are still coming for you, it’s extremely tedious. And it would be easily solved by simply adding a 1-9 set of hotkeys for weapons.

It does break the flow quite heavily, but if you’re not throwing stuff maybe it doesn’t matter to you!

The big issue… There’s a growing annoyance I find with games. Many of them are developed for consoles and ported back to the PC. The biggest culprit this month is the ingame voice function.  Now, I think VOIP is great. It makes multiplayer so much better.  But when a game implements a system that doesn’t allow you to adjust volume levels, set things to push-to-talk or even disable completey, it gets tedious.  It’s not the worst thing in the world, of course, but it smacks of console functionality.  It has pushed me towards mostly playing on my own, but with any luck options will be added in future versions.

Buy milk... Walk dog... Kill Dave...

I’ve not had quite as much time as I’d like with it, which shall be rectified this week, but I hope this has served as a decent recollection of my experience to help you if you were on the fence for the title, even if it’s not a comprehensive look at all facets of the game.  In summation though, Dead Island is still definitely a worthwhile game for some homocidal fun, but speaking entirely as a PC player, and speaking honestly, I really wish PC gamers would get a little more love.  Come on, you know you love my PC Fanboy rants.


Game code provided by Green Man Gaming.