Friday, October 28, 2011

Not bad, just not great.

I just finished the video Game Dead Island. It wasn't bad but it certainly didn't live up to all the hype. Some of the highlights were (of course) offing zombies in a variety of ways. From axes and machetes to driving over them with an armored car (he he). The environments looked very nice. Large and open. Lots of details. You could wander around for days I suppose.

 But the drawbacks kept me from really enjoying the game. The inventory system was pretty rough. And selecting weapons was an exercise if frustration. In almost every other game I can use the scroll wheel to select another weapon, or use the number keys. Not so here. Of course, there are a LOT of different weapons. And they can be modified with stuff you find around the island. Except that I found waaaaay too much of some stuff and not enough of what i needed to make many mods.  Also, weapons  decay pretty fast with use and you have to constantly repair them. Even something as simple as an axe becomes useless after taking out a dozen undead. Really?

Lots of the elements in the game were also in use in FarCry 2 which I played a while back. But where FarCry 2 was awesome and very immersive, Dead Island constantly took you out of the game. To select upgrades, to look at the map, to check quests. And for a brand new game the faces weren't very expressive. Maybe half of the characters looked any good. The voice acting wasn't bad though.

The game is unique because you can drop in and out of cooperative play. With more people, you have more firepower, and more zombies. But upon completing quests there's usually a bit of story line material. Sadly, anyone in the group can push a button and skip this. That's annoying. You don't need to hear this exposition, but again, it helps the feel of the game. As with many games, there were several escourt missions where you have to get another character from point A to point B alive. This is where some of the roughest edges showed up. At one point, facing a large group of zombies I threw a Molotov cocktail to make my life easier. My escourtee then runs right into the group and sets themselves on fire. Wow. Also, while early side quests could be taken or ignored, when you get near the finale you are on a pretty narrow rail with few choices.

I think with another few months of testing and polishing this game could have been better. It has a fun concept. It's solid. Just not quite soup yet.

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