Wednesday, February 8, 2012

5 Things Dead Island didn't do (but should have)...

So Dead Island was the first real big zombie apocalypse RPG, and although it is kickass and I still love playing it because of that and the fact you can go around with a huge variety of weapons and decapitate zombies here are some things that would have made it a 5 star game instead of a 3.5. Now I'm not going to include things like having better writing, story or characters as these are a given and the majority of people who play it will know that it needs it. I'm merely focussing on the zombie apocalypse side of things.

1. Have less specific special infected -
When we were introduced to the concept of special infected in Left 4 Dead; a more powerful type of zombie that would appear in combat every so often, not your regular garden variety - they were more credible. They were the Hunter, the Boomer, the Smoker and so forth - but in game they represented any common person who could have been made into this specific type. The Hunter is a guy in a hoodie, The Smoker is a tall guy, The Boomer is a fat guy - all fairly
vague credentials.

But in Dead Island they go stupid with it - take the Ram for instance. The Ram is a huge body builder psychopath strapped up in an armoured straight jacket complete with a Hannibal Lector mask who charges at you and knocks you down. Now although this is an awesome character concept (perfect for a one off mini boss), when you have an unlimited supply of them prop up in the world you have to think about where they all were before the outbreak.

This logic means that somewhere on the island there were at least 100 armoured 7 ft body building psychopaths in a huge mental prison. Now although you do visit a prison later in the game it was still left ambiguous as to where all these crazy monsters came from. In short - have less specific bad guys if there is going to be a lot of them!

2. Have children zombies -
If the developers spent less time making awesome-but-fictional special infected and more time developing a more diverse array of zombies the game would have been a lot more immersive. Dead Island has one of the best (and saddest) trailers I've ever seen and all that comes down to a little girl. We feel terrible for the girl and her family as we see how they were killed because children represent innocence and vulnerability - if little children zombies came running at you in the game it would have given the game the big level of realism it needed.

Zombie fiction is scariest and most effective when it takes reality and things we can relate to and turns it on it's head - takes people we know and love who have been killed and are now trying to eat our brains!

3. Have NPC's die and become zombies - One of the favourite things to do in zombie fiction is to have someone you know and care for die and then moments later spring to life and try to kill you. Now although they briefly did this near the end of the game where you come back to a place that you had once visited and everyone is a braindead mess - this was at the end of the game and we didn't really get enough time to know these people. If they had made one of the main NPC's into a zombie or put more of an emphasis on this point it would have been much more effective.

4. Let you wear armour -
What is suitable attire for a zombie apocalype? Board shorts? I think not! I would have loved to have been able to raid a sports shop and equip myself with motorcross gear or hockey pads. Be able to wear motorcycle helmets and strap myself with make shift armour. This would totally add a whole new dimension to the game.

5. Have zombies with missing limbs:
- A basic one, but true. Every zombie you encounter for the first time has all his limbs and is perfectly intact - simply having some zombies with limbs missing or even having some with its legs missing, crawling along the ground, would add so much more diversity to the combat and immersion of the game

So that's it for now! Although Dead Island is an awesome game I'm sure that most of this is because there hasn't really been a first person zombie RPG before and everyone was waiting for one for a long time. If the writing, characters and story had been that much stronger and they had tried to include these points it would have been so much more enjoyable. Hopefully this is just the first in a new genre of zombie apocalypse games so that they can improve and make a game that isn't just fun because you ignore all the faults with it but is actually amazing!


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