Ladies and gentlemen, the winter games deluge has begun. What started with Deus Ex a fortnight ago is going to last all the way through until early December, with wall to wall gaming awesomeness appearing on store shelves as far as the eye can see. Inevitably, things are going to get ugly. As a mere mortal who still has to, ya know, buy his games, I’m restricted by what’s commonly referred to as a “budget”. This “budget” is no doubt going to end up in tatters and trodden into the dirt come mid-November, but for now I’m trying to stick to it as best I can. The result is that even for Tap’s resident Zombie enthusiast, a game such as Dead Island that would have been an insta-purchase at any other time of the year is now relegated to Steam sale fodder.
Nevertheless, today’s lifting of the official review embargo yielded some mixed reviews and differing responses. Although the less than stellar technical performance proved too steep a hurdle for many to overcome, others praised the RPG elements, the most “realistic” depiction of a Zombie apocalypse to date and the simple fact that they just had fun with the game. Either way, Dead Island has turned out to be absolutely nothing like that trailer, so the real winner here is the Department for Misleading Marketing. Check out the best of the aggregated scores and comments after the jump.
Game Informer: My time on Banoi Island was filled with more memorable moments than I could’ve imagined. I raced down a city street and was intercepted by a pack of flaming zombies that instantly gave chase. I decided to turn tail and run, allowing the scathing flames to gradually destroy my pursuers. I hurled sickles, scythes, and knives into a hulking undead beast, retrieved them from its rotting frame, and threw them again. I sprinted at a zombie, jump-kicked it to the ground, and smashed its brain in with my foot. I severed a brute’s flailing arms while my friends distracted him. These amazing moments were made possible by the freedom the game bestows upon creative players. [8.50/10]
GamesTM: However, despite some mechanical issues, its fair share of technical limitations and a few inconsistent design choices, it’s undeniable that Techland’s open-world, four-player zombie slayathon surpasses the highest hopes anyone had for it. [7/10]
Destructoid: This all sounds rather negative, but I must stress that Dead Island is a fun game — it’s just fun in the most frustrating way possible. [7/10]
Joystiq: While throwing weapons is cool yet too expensive, the melee combat that will be your stock-in-trade is just annoying. Encounters with single zombies are pleasant enough for a while, especially when you’re lopping off limbs and heads. But the far, far more common scenario is getting attacked by several zombies at once and dying — a lot. No matter what number you’re facing, the strategy is always the same: Hammer on the right trigger. Just keep swinging, for hours. There’s a “kick”, but it only works on one enemy at a time and frequently misses, so it’s not a reasonable way to buy yourself some space. The melee system is desperately in need of some depth or flow. A block button, for instance, would have gone a long way. [3/5]
Eurogamer: It’s in the opening sections where the immediate desire to mash zombies to bits grinds most awkwardly against the restrictions of the RPG framework. Playing as a cop-trained firearms expert, only to be told you can’t actually shoot a pistol because you’re not level 10, is about as immersion-breaking as you can get. It also gets tiresome, constantly foraging around for pipes, planks and kitchen knives with which to defend yourself as you jog from poolside bar to lifeguard tower to gas station. [6/10]
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