Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dead Island: Smells Like Zombies

I just landed on Dead Island last night, a little late for the whole development code version fiasco/party. I was really anxious about my arrival however, thinking that perhaps I have made a mistake spending some time there when I was greeted by what must be the worst introduction sequence soundtrack known to man... "Who do your voodoo bit$h?" Really? Just... Really? Developer Techland probably thought that the self-reflexive zombie rap lyrics was clever. It's not. Worse still, when I got to the main menu, there was a piercing static scream coming from my right side surround speaker. It was so loud and sudden, I thought that I was really attacked by a zombie in my Game Room!

Who do my @$$!

I had to restart the game to get rid of the piercing sound and by then, I was sure that I was going to regret ever playing the game. If the zombie girl trailer was any indication, this game should be more emotional than tongue-in-cheek. But then, things took a change for the better. The first area that limited you to play only in single player mode was quite intense. I screamed, yes, I screamed for my life a couple of times during my escape towards the other survivors at the offset of the sudden zombie apocalypse on the island of Banoi where the game took place. All of a sudden, that silliness generated from the stupid introduction sequence was gone and despair started to settle in. The conceptual promise of experiencing the irony of carnage in such a beautiful place is definitely fulfilled here especially with a gruesome discovery of a bloodbath that you will encounter during the game's first quest. Since I get easily scared these days, I screamed and screamed some more whenever a zombie suddenly appear into view - so the game is capable of being intense, morbid, and scary.

Sometimes pretty, sometimes pretty ugly? That's Dead Island!

Then, there is the combat. Oh the sweet zombie combat. I have not found any guns as of yet so I have been killing the zombies with boat paddles and my favorites, a sharp cleaver and a knife.  The character that I have selected, Xian, gains sharp weapon proficiencies and stabbing zombies in a violent, downward motion right onto the top of their heads never gets old. The melee gameplay is quite brutal and satisfying, especially with the visual alterations on the zombies as they are getting sliced and diced. Killing zombies and completing quests gain you experience points and you are given skill points when you level up. The game introduces three separate skill trees for each of the game's four characters and even though I have only spent 2 points on them thus far, I can see that this process is going to get very addicting. I have heard that the zombies' level scales up with your character level and unfortunately, I have never been a fan of that kind of setup even when I was playing The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. But we shall see whether it will impact this game positively or negatively.

Cut? No, that's more like an amputation!

The game seems to be fun to play so far but it is not without its share of problems. The most apparent is that the visuals are not optimized for the Personal Computer. Even though you gain the benefit of running this game at native 1080p or perhaps even higher on the PC, some of the low resolution texture works look horrible and because of the inferior technology running the overall engine, the game is not going to come close to pushing your video card's capabilities whatsoever. Which is a shame, because they could have given the game a lot more visual pizazz - a high resolution texture pack like the chunky one that Bioware provided for the PC version of Dragon Age II would definitely help. The field of vision is also disappointingly short and this takes away from the experience when looking at your surrounding from an elevated location. So visually at the moment, we are just looking at a prettier version of the console releases instead of a competent PC title. The game also crashed on me twice even though that didn't happen to a friend of mine who was also running it at last night. I think all of that violent downward stabbings did something weird to the game? The most disappointing thing however is that the online component didn't work for me and my friend last night. It seemed like the server was recently taken down for some reason because people were able to play the game online immediately after launch. I will try the online co-op mode again later today. Hopefully, everything will be back in order by then. Like I was telling my friend, I don't think I could make it in this game without having other players running around with me because it's a bit scary for me... And much scarier inside dark buildings - oh no! If you are looking into purchasing Dead Island, you may want to wait a little until a big patch arrives but as long as the multiplayer mode is up and running, this game is certainly fun and it definitely holds a lot of promise within its slightly rotten exterior.


Update Note = 10:20pm - The online multiplayer is still down. A lot of players are setting up their own virtual private network to get their multiplayer fix but I am willing to wait for it for a couple more days. Certainly it shouldn't take that long to get this feature up and running again? Also, I was able to eliminate the game's random static/screech sound bug by playing the game in 5.1 instead of my original 7.1 setup.
09/08/2011 = 2:19pm - The online multiplayer is now available. The game received another patch as well.


Kelli said...

when i heard that "who do you voodoo b***h" I couldn't contain my laughter. I was thinking are they serious they could of did something better than that, lol.

Loner Gamer said...

It was unbearably horrid. Good thing the game ended being good or it would have been a nasty double whammy.