Deep Silver is about to release Dead Island: Definitive Collection, which bundles the original Dead Island with its semi-sequel Riptide and a bonus endless runner 2D game called Retro Revenge. Add in all of the DLC for those games, and you’ve got a pretty great package for $40, at least in terms of gameplay hours. If you’ve never taken a chance on a Dead Island game, there are some things you should know first.
The original Dead Island turned a lot of heads with a very clever, but brutal trailer that showed a family dealing with some real zombie problems on an island. Unfortunately, the game itself had nothing to do with the tone or story presented in this groundbreaking trailer — instead focusing on the adventure of a white rapper with a hangover — which immediately distanced a lot of those fans gained by the fantastic promotion.
How was the actual game, judged on its own merits? Inconsistent as all hell.
As a first person shooter with RPG elements, games like Fallout 3 and Borderlands did this genre much better. As zombie games go, Left 4 Dead still leads the pack. As a blend of a few genres, it is not innovative or — more importantly — functional. The original was plagued with bugs that actually made it impossible to complete for some gamers (including yours truly).
But what it did well, and from start to finish, was that it was fun.
Not a brilliant fun, and action-packed with fetch quests that were entirely forgettable, but still a delightful bloody zombie-murder romp through an island paradise. The characters were never clever or original, but at a certain point you accepted the kitsch of a Romero-esque adventure and, if you’re the kind of person who can celebrate a bit of dumb, it was a worthwhile B- that was held back by technical and visual limitations. Which is why there’s some excitement to be had in revisiting Dead Island with an HD remake that hopefully has the bugs figured out — especially on-line co-op.
Riptide is an acceptable stand-alone expansion that tests a few new ideas that will probably find their way into Dead Island 2 whenever that exits development hell and gets a release. At least they learned a few things about setting tone in a trailer:
So is Dead Island: Definitive Collection worth $40 to play on current generation consoles? Probably, so long as your expectations are set appropriately. There’s easily more than 100 hours of gameplay included, and aside from an idiotic second act in Dead Island which traps you in sewers, a prettier and functional version of the game deserves a weekend of my life. Maybe I’ll actually be able to finish it this time.