DEAD ISLAND: Definitive Collection
Deep Silver – Techland – Koch Media – PS4/Xbox One/PC – 1 Player (1-4 online)
Definitive editions, HD remasters and ultimate collections all seem to be the trend over the last couple of years since the PS4 and Xbox One launched. Some of these have seemed unnecessary, whereas some may be a great improvement (The Last of Us, for example). So it came as some surprise when the divisive Dead Island games were announced as getting the same treatment. Some may argue that these reissues/remasters are cash ins, but Dead Island DC, is released at a budget price, and you can buy them separately if opting for digital versions. So how is the island of Banoi in the current generation? For those who haven’t experienced Dead Island before, the gameplay is typical first person/rpg fare you come to expect from these type of games. You’re given a quest, carry out said quest and return to the relevant person, giving you EXP to level up etc. The real entertainment from these missions are that they all involve exploring areas, infested with zombies which need their heads caving in. They may all seem like fetch quests but when you get to explore exotic tropical islands with beautifully blue seas, it makes a welcome change from the usual drab environments of your typical apocalyptic video game. Dead Island Definitive Edition is a very entertaining game, which even on the Xbox 360 was great fun, scary and lovely looking. It wasn’t without its performance issues, which for the most part has been sorted out for the Definitive Collection. The environments, despite being in a sun-drenched holiday destination, are still quite unnerving. The zombies are very quick, very loud and can come out of nowhere ready to eat your face off. If you can hear them but can’t see them, chances are they’re behind you, and by the time you realise, they’re usually clawing away at you.
The weapons in the game are pretty much anything you can find, from oars, to planks and axes to machetes. Throughout each game you’ll come across seemingly infinite variations of the weapons on offer, as well the very Dead Rising-esque work benches, which allow you to customise your weapons. These however, are dependent on whether or not you find blueprints for said customisation. Despite there being plenty of weapons scattered around, anything that isn’t a firearm deteriorates, so will either need replacing or repairing. Repairs can be made at the aforementioned work benches and if you grow fond of certain weapons you can always upgrade them so they’re more robust. It’s hard not to have an affinity with a katana that sends your opponent’s head in to orbit. Some of the characters weapon skills vary depending on which one you choose, with some taking on the zombies with melee weapons, and others being more skilled with guns or even just their mitts. There’s a diverse range of characters to choose from and no two are the same so there’s a decent range of play styles from the off.
Riptide picks up exactly where you left off from the end of Dead Island. You’ve survived but your ride home crashes on a neighbouring island which is also infested with undead. But rather than boasting well maintained roads and fancy hotels etc, you’re in native territory, with nothing but dirt tracks, wooden buildings and river networks which you are required to navigate by boat. Really it’s more of the same, but a little more rural. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, as the same mechanics are in place and the locations look just as lovely. There’s a few variations on weaponry and some of the missions can be quite interesting. Despite being set on a tropical island in the day time, it’s still scary, and the tone does feel somewhat darker from the first game. Just like the first game, hearing the roars in the distance of the zombies, or the sneaky buggers attacking you from behind without realising, are enough to get the heart pounding.
One of the biggest issues with the Dead Island games first time round, was the bugs and glitches. Given that this is the Definitive Collection, it would be expected that these have all been ironed out. There have been several encountered on the play through whilst reviewing the games, and while they’re nothing to really complain about (severed limbs having a life of their own for example), you would expect the issues to have been ironed out. There were a couple of instances in Riptide however, where during the wave of enemy type of fights, zombies got stuck in the scenery so were unreachable, meaning a checkpoint reload was required, or getting stuck after helping an NPC. They do not move for love nor money and if you’re sandwich between them and a wall, you can only rely on manically jumping around to break free, or hope you get attacked and the character goes after them.
Out of the two games, Dead Island is the more enjoyable than Riptide. It seems like more went in to the first game as, visually at least, everything looks as though it has had more effort put into even the slightest detail, so the zombies are more gruesome and the environments feel more authentic. Gameplay is pretty much the same however and you can transfer your character data over to Riptide so you can pick up where you left off. With it being the Definitive Collection, we’re also treated to the DLC campaigns and characters that came along as well, fleshing things out even more. There’s an extra bonus thrown in with the collection too, in the form of an old skool arcade game called Retro Revenge. It plays more like a mobile game than anything as your character automatically runs, you just control the part of the screen the character runs on, as well as the commands to hit the oncoming undead. In order to hit the zombies however, you need to line up your cursor with enemies in order to do any damage. This is all well and good for a few goes, but it runs out of steam very quickly. Why it couldn’t play like a proper side scrolling beat em up, who knows, as that’s what it looks like, and would likely have been ten times as better. But as a freebie in an already decent package, it’s not to be sniffed at.
If you’ve already made the trip to the festering tropical island paradise of Banoi, what more can you expect from the Dead Island reissue? Other than a bonus endless runner, it doesn’t bring much to the table. It’s running at 1080p meaning the luscious greens and yellows of the sun drenched environments look fantastic, making it look better than its previous gen versions, but other than that, it’s just the same games. So if you’ve already played Dead Island and it’s sequel, Riptide, unless you fancy playing through them again, apart from the budget price, there’s not a lot here for you. That being said, as a budget collection of games, you can do a lot worse than the Dead Island Definitive Collection. While it may not look as good as some of the other ‘HD’ remasters that have appeared in numbers since the current generation of consoles were launched, it’s still good fun, and for 2 games for less than the price of one, it’s a bargain too, and should get anticipation up for the upcoming sequel.