Monday, October 7, 2013

First Impressions: Dead Island (PC)

I picked up Dead Island during Humble's Deep Silver Bundle which included a bunch of games that I've since forgotten about, and Dead Island with Dead Island: Riptide.  I started Dead Island one afternoon last month after playing L4D2 and wanting to play something else that I already had that contained those wacky zombies.  I remembered about Dead Island and remembered that amazing trailer from two years ago.  You know the one, not the E3 trailer, but the announcement trailer.  How could a game (an FPS at that) possibly live up to that trailer?  It can't.   There's too much good stuff that belongs in a TV miniseries or in a feature length movie that will not translate well into an FPS zombie video game.

The actual game on the other hand, I've really enjoyed, but there was a brief moment when I thought I would not make it past the hotel.  I played for just under an hour, which included time to tinker with the keyboard layout (inverting the mouse, changing the keys to more towards a L4D2 scheme) and making the 'jump', 'kick', 'crouch' keys more intuitive than the default settings.  Oh yes, the game is an FPS and no, I have not suffered from FPS yet.  I was also concerned with the sluggishness of the mouse in the menu screens.  Yes, I know about altering the mouse sensitivity, but in-game the mouse is perfect.  I was also worried because I couldn't sympathize with any of the characters, which I mounted up to the fact that I've never been to an island resort so I had no memorial-emotional attachment to the setting or the people who would inhabit said setting.  Does that make me a bad person?  I don't think so.

Well, 23 hours later, you could say that I've gotten over any and all initial hang ups I thought I would have with the game.  Having now entered Act II (of V), I have some brand new hang ups.  Let's bullet list this!
  • Nearly everyone (zombies and non alike) is either in swimwear or ripped.  It is hard for me to sympathize or empathize with this particular group of people.
    • However, in Act II when you move into the city of Moresby, people are dressed how you would expect them to dress in a 
  • Dying is too "MMO" for my tastes.
    • When you die, you loose a percentage of your money and respawn 7 seconds later at a nearby checkpoint/location.  Dying isn't so much something to fear as it is an inconvenience.
Okay, that's really my only hang up, now that I'm in Act II, which takes you from the beach front resort area to the inner/downtown city area of Moresby.  It's there that groups of zombies are introduced, compared to the very few and far between groups in the resort area.  In Act I, I died twice.  In Act II, I've died a lot more.  Even on "easy" fetch quests, I died four times climbing down a ladder that seemed to constantly have fast moving infected constantly respawn after every time I respawned, which I guess is only fair, but still frustrating.

There are a couple of other small things that I don't really like, such as randomly equipping bottles of alcohol when picking them up; it is difficult to "button" switch away from a firearm after throwing a combustible (propane tank); 

As for things that I really like about the game are thus:
  • Combat is based heavily on melee weapons.
    • Weapons become dull and damaged over a short amount of time, each with their own durability rating, but can still be repaired.
      • Granted repairing a weapon costs money, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but that's suspension of disbelief during a zombie apocalypse.
  • There are different classes of zombies, somewhat based on their degradation.  People who have been infected but haven't turned yet are fast moving (a la 28 Days Later).
    • There are a couple other "classes" such as ones who seem to be releasing a lot of smoke/fumes who are very flammable, large bro-types who do more damage and take more damage to kill and some hulking ones in straightjackets who are basically like L4D2 Chargers.
  • I feel the game doesn't take itself too seriously considering that snack bars and energy drinks are the most common form of health replenishers.
  • The cast of characters (both zombie and non) are very diversified.  I can't see Techland getting into hot water over having to kill any kind of ethnic group or gender.  Everyone gets the chance to die and be killed in this game.
  • I like the nods to other zombie-lore, such as:
being a reference to:

And, and, and, the standard walker/roamer/zombies are slowish moving in classic Romero style.  I really like that.  This was most likely done because so much of the game (at least Act I & II) is based around melee combat so having fast moving zombies a la L4D would make the game if not impossible, then at least very frustrating.

So that's where I'm at right now.  27 hours (I've played 4 hours since starting writing this) in now and I've got to get back to Banoi (which is one of the most real sounding fictional islands off the coast of Papua New Guinea that I've ever heard) and save the day, except not.

Falling Towards Nightly Terror

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