Dead Island Preview
Zombie games will never die. And while many say they’ve long since grown tiresome, repetitive, and just plain old-fashioned, the concept of the walking undead is timeless. Last year’s Dead Nation was great and believe it or not, it seems Techland and Deep Silver are teaming up to deliver one of the bloodiest, most visceral zombie-slaying experiences ever. The guys who brought you nail’d (a damn good and very under-appreciated off-road racer) are pulling out all the stops with Dead Island. But the reason there’s a three and a half year gap in the screenshot accumulation – just check above – is because the game was initially announced way back in 2007. It just took a while for Techland to find a publisher but now they’ve got one, and this promising slasher should launch this year for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. Prepare to be both appalled and titillated.
The Royal Palms resort on an island in Papua New Guinea is pretty darn remote. It’s a beautiful location; perhaps perfect for a honeymoon or a solitary getaway. But that remoteness could be your undoing because when the undead begin to rise, you are at an immediate disadvantage: no help is coming, and the island isn’t exactly stockpiled with firearms. You’ll start out foraging for weapons or blunt objects; anything that will help you survive, and for the most part, you’ll be hacking your way free. Daggers, axes, bats, machetes, lead pipes, and other items will come in awfully handy, but such tools will also cause the blood to copiously coat the environment. It’s gonna be gut-wrenching. Every strike will have a significant impact, as the rotting flesh will be torn away, the blood will run, and muscle and bone will be revealed. Dubbed a “first-person zombie slasher/action-RPG,” Techland is both nasty and ambitious.
Only you and a handful of tourists remain uninfected when the disease breaks out, and everyone has to sort of band together to escape the island. But there’s more to the story…in fact, there is a story, and you’ll have to uncover the reasons and source behind the outbreak before your adventure is over. The game is also going to offer co-op play for those who wish to play with a friend, and up to four players can drop in and out of a game. But really, playing this one alone at night with all the lights extinguished should be your aim. Personally, I’m a fan of that role-playing element: unlike other zombie-hunting games, you aren’t an expert slayer at the start; you’ve got learn, and your skills will increase over time. As you get better at destroying the rampaging hordes, you’ll obtain new abilities, some of which even come with new animations.
We’ll also see a lot of variety in the zombies, which will come in all shapes and sizes. This means you might have to employ different tactics for taking them down, although it remains true that all these horrific monsters will be extremely aggressive. They too may have special abilities, so it seems you’ll be at a disadvantage throughout. By the way, prepare to feel a little uncomfortable when you watch the trailer here, because while it’s extremely impressive from a cinematic standpoint – is that indicative of how the game will look?! – it’s also…well, unsettling. This could very well be one of the most gruesome, surprisingly in-depth zombie-based games ever; I just hope all the featured elements blend together to give us a seamless experience. If you hadn’t heard of Dead Island prior to this preview, you have now, and you’ll start hearing more soon…
2/17/2011 Ben Dutka