Undead action RPG ‘Dead Island’ deserves another life

Published 11:24 am Thursday, July 12, 2012

“NCAA Football 13” came out this week, and if you like football, odds are you’re going to pick it up. One of several EA sports titles that just won’t die, NCAA Football’s success got me thinking about another title that deserves the undead treatment: “Dead Island.”

“Dead Island” was the game that was supposed to have it all: zombies, an island resort, survival horror tactics, an RPG-like gaming mechanic. People got really excited after an emotional trailer for the heretofore unheard-of game showing a child turning into a zombie and trying to kill others. While some saw the trailer as crossing the moral line, plenty of people were stoked that a game would deal with such issues.

Needless to say, expectations for “Dead Island” were high. Yet while the game garnered positive reviews, it didn’t stand out from the pack of zombie-related games. There were various reasons, from the sometimes-wonky first-person controls — the driving mechanics didn’t exactly make things easy — to the bubblegum look and texture of the game environment.

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Missions were easy enough, and there were plenty of zombies to crush, which was the point of the game after all. Hand-to-hand combat felt somewhat effective, and aside from some PC glitches the game ran fairly smooth.

Yet the game lacked the realism promised in that first trailer. That first glimpse into the “Dead Island” world built up the game’s potential far too ike some other sports games].

While husbands, wives, and true loves were threatened, the overall drama wasn’t engaging enough, which may explain why the game felt a little incomplete.

That’s not to say it wasn’t fun, as developers Techland made sure the game was heavy on action and creative ways to destroy zombies, gangsters and terrorists. The game was successful enough to warrant a sequel, as “Dead Island: Riptide” was announced at E3 last month. In addition, Lionsgate acquired the film rights to the game based on the first trailer.

I didn’t like “Dead Island” when it first came out, but the game grew on me. I’m hoping the second game improves on a great concept, but keeps the trailer a little more true-to-virtual life.