‘Dead Island’ a lifeless romp into zombie territory

Imagine this scenario: you’re waiting for a toy to come out, and it’s a toy that will impact your social status on the playground street scene. It finally comes out, and you drag your parents to take you to the local toy store to pick it up. You get it home in your grubby hands, you tear apart the packaging, and there it is – with some assembly required. You find out the manufacturing company has a recall, and you ship it off. A week later it comes back, shiny and awe inspiring, except that some of the badly molded parts are still there and the spring loaded launchers don’t work. That is precisely what “Dead Island” amounts to.

This game is nigh unplayable. With all the hype, all the work and media coverage this game received, why is it a bug-infested, glitch-ridden first person adventure? There is no doubt that the game itself is ambitious, interesting and gorgeous to look at, but the glitches and bugs are game breaking and frustrating.

The player starts out as one of four survivors, a firearms expert, a blade expert, a blunt weapons expert or a throwing expert, and as you wake up you notice that stuff has gone awry. That is, if the game doesn’t crash at the character select screen – which it will. After the game has you wake up in your hotel room, and you figure out the controls and how to play the game, you quickly realize that you in the middle of a Zombacalypse. Zombies have overrun the paradise island of Banoi. No matter, you have a trusty oar and an immunity to disease.

The game takes a lot of strides with the zombie genre. It adds some heavy RPG elements and a real feeling of dread that you will die if you aren’t careful. The melee combat is pretty straight forward, but takes a bit of finesse and panache to use effectively, and most of the game is spent trying to get the cash to keep your weapons in working order and not broken and unusable. After you have jabbed 30 or so zombie skulls, broken weapons are inevitable.

One of the applauding elements is the realism of the game, or as much as you can get with zombies. They can’t open doors, and aren’t really a menace except in large groups, since they’re pretty easy to knock down and run away from. If you want the experience points, you should stick around and kill them off, but knocking down the weaker ones and bolting is your best bet to advance more quickly.

The game’s bugs are so bad however, that they’re deal breakers. It’s hard to get into a game when the sound cuts out after 45 minutes of play, forcing you to restart your console every time, or it freezing in the middle of a cut scene. The technical difficulties have been addressed once during its launch week, but the bugs are still there, and it’s frustrating.  The developers are working on the patches, and it should be fixed in the few weeks. When that happens, add two more points to this review.