Preview: Dead Island, your new favorite vacation spot

August 14, 2011

I doubt many thought that Square Enix would get involved in the business of zombie-killing. In Dead Island, they and Deep Silver make us get up close and personal with them, in a much more open world than we’re used to. From our time with the game, we can definitively state that the apocalypse has rarely been more enjoyable.

In Dead Island, you are, obviously, on a tropical island that has been mysteriously afflicted with a zombie outbreak. You and a handful of others have been spared somehow, and you must work together to escape infection. Since this is a tourist resort, there’s no easy way to stock up on weapons or ammo to do your killing. You’ll be forced to improvise or die. You’ll find a variety of melee and knife like weapons to use, ranging from axes and machetes to pipes and brooms. Fists will work in a pinch too, though they are definitely not recommended.

Like Left 4 Dead, Dead Island offers four-player drop-in drop-out co-op, though the game itself would never be mistaken for Left 4 Dead. The open world, the RPG-like upgrading elements and the weapon shops all lead to a completely different zombie apocalypse than we’ve experienced before.

There are four different characters you can choose from, each with different skills and abilities. As you kill zombies, you’ll earn experience points you can use to upgrade your character. Weapons are also customizable, not to the extent of Dead Rising 2, but enough that you’ll have plenty of variety of weapons for taking on the horde. Aside from the standard zombies, there are a few special ones. Suicide zombies explode on contact, for example, and infectious zombies spew poison on you if you get too close.

If you’re looking for a good co-op game, or you’re just tired of killing zombies in Left 4 Dead, Dead Island looks promising, and will be coming to 360, PS3 and PC in just under a month.