I will be the first to admit that the first trailer released for Dead Island made my jaw drop. It was poignant and truly heart wrenching. However, I was on the fence about the game itself.
I was worried it would be too much like Dead Rising. I apologize to all the Dead Rising fans out there but I found that game grinding and boring. Plus I detest timed missions. When I play a game I like to explore everything not get jammed into a linear experience contained within a 15 minute time limit. Plus, I thought the story was weak.
So back to Dead Island, I confess I love the game. It reminds me of Fallout meets Left 4 Dead with a little Borderlands sprinkled in. It is a zombie hack-n-slash RPG or that is the best way to describe it. The fighting mechanics remind me of Fallout 3 and the whole zombie experience, Left 4 Dead. The Borderlands aspect comes in with the co-op and the weapons. You have missions to complete like Fallout and Borderlands.
You can play as one of four characters, each with their own back story and strengths. You are on a resort island and the island has become infected with...something. You are immune to turning into a zombie but you can die. If you do die, you lose some money and respawn near the area you died. You get to find mods and create new weapons. I am fond of anything that shocks.
Now the overall gameplay is pretty sweet though I find I use my kick almost endlessly to keep zombies form touching me. Plus it doesn't use stamina like weapons do. If you have zero stamina, you cannot swing a weapon leaving you open to attack. You can pick up med kits but to use them you must use an equip slot, reducing the number of weapons you can have ready to use. Energy drinks, snacks and fruit are lying around but you use them as soon as you pick them up. No collecting.
Now for my beefs, there are some coding issues within the game. I have had missions chosen and couldn't get the NPC to talk to me that I was supposed to be talking to. I was required to exit and reload my game to get it to work. It happened a second time yesterday but I haven't had a chance to reload it to see if it's working now. I had to go to work.
The other issue is throwing weapons. If you throw a weapon at a zombie, when it dies you can go pick it up...in theory. However, if that zombie happens to die and land in a bush, you are out of luck. Your weapon is gone forever. It doesn't seem possible you can't get a weapon out of a bush but there you have it. Of course there are graphical issues and weird little glitches (I got stuck on a railing and couldn't move) but those can hardly be unexpected.
Co-op is smooth when people join and exit but again, it could be better. The people joining the game cannot see the mission map so the host has to lead everyone. The only way to close your game is from the main menu. You cannot just change your setting while in game even though there is an options menu with it listed. It would be nice if you could open and close your game as you needed to without exiting completely. Fable 2 managed to do this so it's not an impossible request.
Also, the cut scenes and dialogue isn't coded for each character and only 1 player. All cut scenes feature all four characters and the character I am playing as (Xian) is female but dialogue often refers to me as male. Then there are respawn issues. I have been killed and then respawned right in the middle of a mob of zombies or right next to a Thug/Suicide/Ram zombies and have been killed again instantaneously. This gets very frustrating since you lose money each time you die and you need money to repair you melee weapons, upgrade weapons and create weapons.
You will also have human enemies as well as zombies to contend with. Humans have guns. Guns kill. You've been warned. Guns are actually easy to find, ammo is not. You can only carry a limited amount of ammo with you, say 50 rounds for a pistol. Be careful with your ammo.
All that aside, this is a game worth picking up and playing. Though you really should get a friend to play with you, at least once you hit level 23. I am getting my rear end kicked by zombies. I don't think there is a game out there where I am have died so often. I think I actually screamed out in frustration at one point yesterday because of an escort mission. I'd get killed, I'd respawn and then then person I was escorting would get killed so I'd have to reload from the last checkpoint.
This game can be long or short depending on how you play it. If you want to do all the side missions, you will be playing for awhile. Some parts of the main story require you to complete side missions so be prepared for that.