Earlier this year, the gaming community was graced with what very well might have been the greatest game trailer of all time.
Dead Island, the game this trailer advertised, rocketed into the mainstream eye solely because of this trailer. The raw emotion and jarring imagery put up against the haunting background score was simply amazing. Dead Island released yesterday and do you know how much of that raw emotion is in the game? Zero… Oh wait I forgot they put the corpses of the family from the trailer in the first ten minutes of the game.
Still the game has been getting positive reviews and is generally regarded as fun. Now I get this is a video game and how it plays is most important at the end of the day, but in this case I don’t care about any of that. And do you know why I don’t care? Because if I want a “fun” zombie game, I’ll play Left 4 Dead, and if I want a free roaming first person adventure game, I’ll wait for Skyrim. The ONLY interesting thing about this game was the trailer which come to find out wasn’t even made by the company behind Dead Island.
The game itself stunningly takes away everything that is scary about zombies. Not only is your character immune to the infection, but if you do die the screen merely spawns you a minutes behind leaving no real tension during game play. Story wise it’s nothing special and it gets repetitive ridiculously quick. Even the later levels when you do end up having shootouts with other non infected humans fail to do much other than show just how average the game is. I’m not saying the game isn’t fun, but you can tell that like most games these days, all thought went into the game play as oppose to the game as a whole.
The problem with focusing solely on the game play is that there is pretty much nothing new you can do with game play these days and because of that as any recent game of note shows, the story is the major factor. Assassin’s Creed would be nothing but a Prince Of Persia rip off with a touch of Splinter Cell if it weren’t for the original character perspective and an original sci-fi story. Modern Warfare became the great FPS it is not because of the multiplayer, but because of the massive balls of the developers at Activision who dropped a nuke on you in the first game and then had you take part in one of the most disturbing terrorist act ever thought up in the sequel. A great story gives way to innovation, unfortunately, for every Assassin’s Creed sequel that impresses there’s a Fable sequel that disappoints despite Peter Molyneux’s flamboyant cackling to the contrary.
A game that only strives to be a game is fine as long as it advertises itself that way. The thing with Dead Island is that if it hadn’t had that trailer it would be what it is, a fun but average zombie game would have nowhere near the wasted hype that it currently does. This game could have been truly great with a just a little bit of effort and for those of you thinking otherwise here are four concepts thought up over the course of an hour that would have been infinitely better than the one they chose:
- Have every player choice be a member of the same family desperately trying to stick together to escape the island.
- Every character is not immune and can die ending the game after all four die giving actual repercussions.
- You’re a part of a strike team sent to destroy all inhabitants on the island unaware that there are survivors.
- Have the game take place over the course of the infection because showing the progress overtime in characters makes the task of killing them once they’ve turned later a heartbreaking task.
There you have it. These are four original concepts (one for each bland character option) that would have made this game legitimately worth mentioning even if they had kept the SAME EXACT GAME PLAY.
Maybe I’m being too harsh, but then again… Fuck this game.