Dead Island 2 review: Nobody is an island

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Given how long it took Dead Island 2 to release and how tortuous the road has been to get to its release, I hardly want to criticize it. He feels like watching someone hobble over the finish line of a marathon on two freshly broken legs and mocking their form. But this is still a $70 MSRP game, so it’s not easy no matter how difficult the journey has been. I just felt the need to acknowledge it upfront.

What has Dead Island 2 become after so long? Simply put, it’s a passable, enjoyable gorefest with enough cartoonish, peppery violence to overcome the uncreative gameplay. Dead Island 2 turned out to be functional (which is certainly more than can be said for some of the neighboring game releases) and its light-hearted sense of humor is the icing on the cake. It’s not a great game, but it’s a good game, and I think that was all everyone was hoping for.

Dead Island 2 takes place in Los Angeles, in the midst of a zombie plague that has turned most of the city into the gibbering undead. One of the last evacuation planes crashes with six people (the player characters or Slayers) on board. The player chooses one of them and must carve a bloody path through Los Angeles using whatever guns, knives, and sharp sticks they can find. They go online and help other survivors and (unintentionally) learn the truth of the outbreak along the way.

City of Angels and Demons: What will you like?

Dead Island 2’s story is certainly a story. The Slayer meets a group of other survivors, a motley crew of celebrities, hangers-on, and survivors. It falls on his shoulders to find a way for his group to escape Los Angeles or at least survive the horde of zombies. Lots of mischief ensues. And that’s basically it: the story isn’t complicated, nor does it have to be. It is a vessel for taking the player character from one beautiful, zombie-infested location to another.


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Los Angeles looks beautiful in this game, the roaming undead doing little to dull its sunny glow. It is also, one might venture to observe, not an island. To try to make the name “Dead Island 2” make sense, the developers make the central theme of the narrative one of isolation, as Los Angeles is quarantined by the military and no one can leave or contact anyone from the staff. abroad. It also focuses on the wealthy and privileged elite of Los Angeles and shows how their wealth has given them advantages in this hell, but not enough to allow them to walk away.

I’m making it sound much subtler and deeper than it really is. Nothing is deep in Dead Island 2, not even the humor. But the jokes land more often than not, and that’s enough to keep the story going. My favorite part of the main game is when the Slayer visits a movie studio and must kill zombies through various stages, using the soundstage pyrotechnics to his advantage.

The gameplay, likewise, isn’t deep or intricate at all. The Slayer faces several types of zombies, each of which is vulnerable to certain types of damage. They have a number of weapons and mods at their disposal that will deal that damage, including hitting enemies, burning them, or melting them with acid. Melee gameplay is satisfying and crisp, as each weapon hit deals visible damage on enemies.

The Slayer can also increase their zombie-slaying potential with ability cards that grant them new perks and abilities. It’s not game changing – most of the time I forgot about these cards until I unlocked a new one – but it adds something extra to a standard melee game.

Hell-A Confidential: What’s Not to Like

As I said above, the story of Dead Island 2 is certainly a story. It doesn’t have any emotional component or even a fear factor to speak of. And while that’s great because it prevents melodrama from intruding on the fun, it does mean that the story basically has one overarching theme that hits the ground running: rich people, especially celebrities, are a bit silly and frivolous.

But for a plot that satirises modern privilege and wealth, and how little they are worth in the face of crisis, Dead Island 2 doesn’t quite know what it wants to say about those who have it. Several of the celebrities you meet seem competent and willing to work with Slayer and only misfortune kept them from leaving Los Angeles, rather than arrogance. Despite the game’s “eat the rich” conceit, many of the real people the Slayer encounters are no more repulsive than your average redneck in the zombie apocalypse.

There is also a problem with weapons. Weapon crafting and upgrades are part of the Dead Island identity. I’m not a big fan of weapon degradation, but it suits the world: if you can handle a serrated machete that sets everything it touches on fire, the only thing that will strike fear into your heart is the thought of it breaking. . So all is well. However, what I do object is the weapon leveling system.

As you level up in Dead Island 2, the gear you find in the world levels up with you. So once you reach level 12, for example, most weapons you find lying around will also be level 12. The same is not true for weapons in your inventory, however. You have to spend in-game currency to boost them to your current level. So you’ll quickly be left with a pocket full of modded but underpowered gear that you can’t afford to level up. Reduces the incentive to invest in your weapons in the long term.

And while I enjoy the melee combat, the weapon-based gameplay was far less compelling. First, the weapons feel less crisp and substantive than melee weapons. Second, they’re a lot less fun: It’s not nearly as viscerally satisfying to poke little holes into the lurching undead from a distance. Speaking of melee weapons, my only complaint with them is that the larger weapons, like mallets, lacked a sense of weight.

Wish You Were Here: Should You Play Dead Island 2?

I wish I could say that Dead Island 2 was a big winner after such a long development cycle. But it’s not Game of the Year material. It’s not even what I’d call a great zombie game – there are plenty that enhance the story or even the gameplay. But Dead Island 2 is solid. He’s competent, and he’s funny. If you want some easy zombie-slaying antics in a beautiful setting, Dead Island 2 will scratch your itch. But I don’t expect anyone to still be talking about it next year.

Deep Silver provided us with a review code prior to launch. Dead Island 2 is currently available for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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