For the last couple of weeks I've spent almost every free minute I've had on the Island of Banoi, fighting for my life against the zombie horde. Dead Island was finally released, after many, many months of waiting, and I've been absolutely devouring it, pun intended. This game is so very good, it's one of those that I'll immediately begin a second playthrough as soon as I finish my initial run, which I'm currently sitting at level 35 with a 92% completion percentage on.
Dead Island doesn't break the mold when it comes to story telling. There's absolutely nothing here that you haven't seen in every other form of zombie fiction. The story goes, you're one of a group of four people who for some reason are immune to the zombie virus that has taken over the island. You complete quests given by various survivors you come across while attempting to find a way off the island. Of course there's more to it than that, and as you explore the island, you'll learn about the origin of the virus, attempt to help discover a cure, and I can only assume eventually discover exactly why it is that you and your group are immune.
The gameplay is a mixed bag of other fantastic games. You've got the co-op aspects of Left 4 Dead as Dead Island supports four player online co-op, the custom weapon creation from Dead Rising 2, and rpg elements on par with anything you'll see in games like Fallout. The story and main quest might be quite as fleshed out as a Fallout game, but the weapon deterioration, leveling up, inventory system, etc. are all reminiscent of Bethesda's rpg behemoth. While it may sound like Dead Island borrows a bit too heavily from other existing games, but developer Techland managed to blend everything together seamlessly and keep the action flowing so things never feel boring or broken up into separate parts. Despite not being a "triple-A" title this game boasts some impressive production values, and despite a little pop-in and texture loading issues, it looks gorgeous and flows along seamlessly.
For those of you who aren't big gamers, I suppose the easiest way to describe Dead Island is to call it an "interactive George Romero movie", at least that's how it feels to me. You know that feeling when even though you've seen a million zombie flicks, you just know you're in for something good when you sit down to watch a new Romero for the first time? That's what playing Dead Island is like. For a new IP in today's market, it's made significant strides toward making a name for itself. I can only assume Dead Island 2 will begin development soon, if it hasn't already done so, and even though I won't be finished with the first one for a while yet, I'm already wondering what will be added to the sequel. As always, anybody looking for a co-op partner can feel free to send an Xbox Live friend request to "Lil Bones". I'm a zombie killing machine, trust me you'll be glad I'm on your team.