Escape Dead Island / 17th of December 2014
As a huge fan of anything zombie related, throw in an island setting and some melee weapons and I’m more than happy to put up with some bad points, either in the story, gameplay or even the odd glitch. After loving Dead Island a bit too much and being one of the lucky few who didn’t have any issues, would I be quite as lucky with a play through of the latest game in Deep Silver’s Franchise?
Before I even started, I had to dust off my ageing Xbox 360 as the game isn’t available for the Xbox One, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I just don’t enjoy the sound of my older Halo 3 Console sounding like a cyborg table saw from the film Screamers (1995), in hindsight I should never of got rid of my Xbox 360 Slim.
I should also add at this point that I’m playing through a 4K Samsung TV with the Xbox 360’s video output being unprocessed on my Yamaha AV Receiver to let the TV take care of the upscaling. There was some screen tearing at the start and just to check it wasn’t as 4K upscaling thing I checked on my trusty 1080p LED also a Samsung and it was still there, I never noticed much in the way of this issue in many other parts of the game.
As soon as the disc spun up I was quite impressed with the quality of the sound on the games soundtrack, which was quite bass heavy, rich and not overly compressed for just being standard Dolby Digital. The menu is pretty sparse and I was rather disappointed to not have ability to adjust any of the controller settings. I’m so much of a casual gamer that, whilst dressed in Stone Island and calling everybody melts, I do actually forget game controls all too easily and need to check them periodically.
As soon as the intro started I knew this was going to be a slightly different experience from my last two delves into the Dead Island franchise, the characters and the setting are cell shaded, and on seeing that my character was a ninja I felt rather worried. He had a pseudo Brazilian/South American accent and I couldn’t imagine where the game was possibly going to go from my controlling a ninja who looked like Earthworm Jim in the Phantom’s suit. Thankfully the ninja didn’t last long, and as it faded from him in the lab to me on a boat, my character instantly reminded me of Billy Zane in Dead Calm, but clearly my drugs were nowhere near as good. I was accompanied by two friends and was ultimately trying to take photos of zombies and crack a news story to impress my rich dad who was clearly unimpressed with my exam grades after finishing at some elite college.
We begin by being shipwrecked on the mystical island of zombies, and I had to wonder about a small beach looking for my two friends and after I found my female friend studying a shipping container bearing the logo of a pharmaceutical company that was associated with zombie experiments, I knew I was in the right place.
At this point, I also realised that as the photographer of the trio of Final Destination delinquents presented to me, I would be expected to take photographs constantly. As I am not an achievement junkie I immediately took the decision to not take any further photographs, as I hate these kind of continual ongoing objectives. By this point I felt thoroughly deflated, and rather dreaded playing any further. Then to cut the story short, something big appeared to be jumping about around the interior of the island, so I started to get a bit more interested, and, after getting my first weapon, found that I was only five minutes away from the action. The melee weapons were okay, however the firearms weren’t that great, there was also very little in the way of weapons throughout the game, which was a bit disappointing as I was hoping there would have been lots of weapons that I could of improved throughout the game. Give me something ridiculous like a chainsaw covered in marital aids that I could use to beat off a boss.
There weren’t very many different enemy types throughout the game but some filled me with the kind of dread I have when Lickers start chasing me in Resident Evil 2, and one type with Wolverine style knife arm appendages was a very frustrating foe indeed. They were far too difficult to dispatch easily, I even checked with fiends to see if it was just my distinct lack of gaming skill that caused me such difficulty, it wasn’t. And when put in a boss style setting where my exit was blocked they just annihilated me. The first fight took me about thirty attempts to get it done, they just leap and swipe at you killing you in two hits, whilst you stagger backwards whilst attempting to keep the git in view. On top of that I was screaming at my TV which then kept on launching YouTube via the voice controls. It’s a miracle that I never destroyed my gamepad. On finishing off the fiend I had to take a break and step out of the game like an overheating ned at a two day mephedrone fuelled dance party in Bathgate.
I met this PPI selling accountant again in a lab later on in the game, only this time he was at the end of a gruelling five minutes of brutality with no save point in between. The end result was that I just kept repeating the same area again and again until I ended his call permanently and moved on to the next zombie smeared nightmare chamber.
Then there were some acid vomit slinging creeps who were easily outwitted by using dodge to jump out of the way of their Spanish omelette before I could hack them to pieces with the samurai sword I found later on, same with a final harder foe who looked like a straight edge emo in shorts who was more annoying than queuing in Greggs. Stealth was the only way to actually not have a stroke whilst trying to take these goons out, but for all the stress they caused me I continued to play the game.
Throughout the game I found a lot of glitches, I got stuck in a tree twice and I also panicked every time I loaded an area as the screen would go into a kind of white faded Aha-type of thing which on several times went completely white and I had to quit the game after thirty seconds of non-responsiveness. The final straw was when I had to fight my evil twin in a hallucination inside a mansion which, after ten seconds into the fight, froze the audio. I then had a single frame pass every ten seconds till I quit the game to try again, and after several tries I gave up and quit the game for good. This really upset me as I was still, for some strange reason, enjoying the game far too much and whilst having a healthy stack of new games to plough through on my Xbox One I just kept going back to it.
I’m not sure if it’s just me who experienced these strange issues or if it’s something others have had to endure. I’m sure a serious update could resolve some of these issues, but to be fair if these issues were resolved I would buy this to play on a rainy day. I, for most part, enjoyed the game and I played most of it to completion. The huge jumps in difficulty at points proved very challenging and areas, like the harbour were really enjoyable. If you didn’t plan your routes through areas you got thoroughly punished and had to start it over and whilst I hate this kind of stuff usually I really enjoyed it.
The game has some nice little FMV cut-scenes, like watching a motion comic and I rather enjoyed them. However the characters voices really start to break me down in a way that I felt like I was being tortured by the CIA at a black site somewhere in Eastern Europe. Occasionally I would admire the plants, backdrops and the general artwork, and from its iffy opening I found that I actually really enjoyed this game. It’s simple ‘go here to collect this, fight this, die a lot, and repeat’, but then, sometimes, I like my games like my food, I just want a pot noodle.