Monday, October 10, 2011

GAME: Dead Island

For months this summer, Techland's Dead Island offered a multitude of promises: potent game engine, depth of plot, vibrant heroes, progressive character development, and zombies zombies zombies! Unfortunately, aside from a boring mass of drab, unfrightening undead, the promises were amazingly hollow.

The game engine was visually interesting, but there were so many devastating bugs that it is was obviously rushed to market far too quickly with too little testing. For example, getting multiple players together in the same game was tricky on the best of days. One of the crew routinely had to completely exit the game and restart in order to host sometimes. Throwables like grenades and Molotovs were unpredictably useless. I was killed more often by other players' throwables than I was killed by any enemies for the first week. And sometimes thrown blades would be rendered unrecoverable if a corpse fell incorrectly and blocked the item from your view. Once weapons became excessively expensive, the idea of losing them under a mound of rotting flesh was enough to make me stop throwing all together.

Dead Island's plot appears to have been developed by 12yr olds hopped up on Four Loko. The inconsistencies bordered on comically impossible.  (When did we find Semtex?  Why don't we just shoot these guys and take the keys? We'll cover the truck load of supplies by hiding in the sewers?)  Even my ADHD-impaired attention span was rapidly lost at times. (Why are we on this boat? We're protecting this girl because...?) And the few elements that were actually believable were so trite that we predicted them well before most of them were unveiled. Horrible, horrible, horrible writing. Easily some of the worst I've endured since Zero Wing. What offends me worse than the pitiful content of the game was that somewhere, somehow people were paid to come up with it!

Then there were the characters. Impossibly worse than the plot. Each of them horribly stereotypical, badly acted, and drowning in dialog that was written by hung-over 12yr olds without access to their morning dose of Adderall. Again, the fact that somebody was paid to develop this seething cauldron of rancid monkey turds named Dead Island made me wince so much that my bone marrow was bruised. The characters were so bad that we collectively cheered when one of them was killed in a cutscene!

And finally, the main draw of the game: ZOMBIES! Sadly, Techland couldn't offer any form of innovation or the faintest speck or originality with their enemies. It was such a derivative rip-off of Left 4 Dead that we didn't bother using Techland's names and stuck with the names from L4D: boomers, spitters, and tanks. Dull, dull, dull.

Dead Island contributed absolutely nothing to the undead game genre. The lone redeeming quality was being able to suffer with my friends. We were able to mock it together and find humor in our shared sorrow. We'd inadvertently kill each other or barter wire for diamonds and champagne.

There's nothing even remotely worth recommending about this game. Were it not for the fact that I could play online, I would have deleted Dead Island after the first "Act" and demanded a refund plus compensation for my pain and suffering. I could never recommend ANYONE attempt to play it by themselves. And I certainly won't be playing it again. There's not enough booze in Biloxi to get me that drunk!
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