‘Dead Island’ has a strong pulse


Over the years I have looked at video games more as art than games, critiquing flaws and praising subtleties.

“Dead Island” is the shallowest video game experience I have played in some time…and I am enjoying the hell out of it.

The setup is so simple, even a zombie can understand it.

After a drunken bender on a tropical island, your character awakes in a hut surrounded by zombies. You have no knowledge of what happened or how you got there. Imagine it as the “Hangover: Undead Edition.”

Of course the point of the game would be to find out how all these innocent people became zombies and bring justice, right?

Nope. The only thing that matters is survival and escape.

Players can select from four different walking stereotypes, each with distinctive skills.

Xian Mei is an Asian woman who’s good with kitchen knives.

Sam B. is a washed up rapper that can wield a baseball bat like Barry Bonds.

Logan is a fallen athlete, but still has a good throwing arm that comes in handy for lobbing zombie heads off.

Finally there is Purna, who is basically Angelina Jolie from “Salt” with a fetish for guns.

If you find yourself having a hard time wondering which character to choose, just think about what kind of game you want to play. For instance, knives can slice and dice through zombies, but blunt weapons are more durable.

The gameplay is unique, combining the vastness of “Fallout 3” with the mechanics of “Dead Rising.”

Like the aforementioned games, DI has action RPG elements most would expect like weapon health, stamina bars, critical hits and XP.

The environment itself is anything but typical. At first glance, the graphics don’t look too special, but sunny reflections and open beaches make slaughtering the undead a bit more pleasant.

Even though the story is almost nonexistent, DI gets one thing right that most modern games don’t: fun.

While gleefully slaying zombies, it dawned on me that for years, I have not actually had fun with games. Sure “Dead Space 2” is tense and “L.A. Noire” is dramatic, but they just weren’t fun to play.

With DI, I was able to sit back and have a good time doing nothing. It felt like I was on a video game vacation.

But the vacation comes at a price.

In order to enjoy DI, you have to look past a lot of flaws.

It glitches often, the music is dull, the voice acting is a joke, controls are stiff and the online co-op crashes more often than the vehicles in the game.

What it comes down to is love.

When you love something, you accept it for what it is. And I wholeheartedly adore DI so much that I’ll stand by it through thick and thin, brains or no brains.

Grade: B

Artwork by Miki Jennings

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