Go for the Head!
Dead Island is the newest game from developer Techland (The people behind the Call of Juarez series) and publisher Deep Silver (Nail'd, Risen, My Animal Centre just to name a few). To best describe Dead Island, I'd have to say it's most like Fallout 3 and Borderlands (Which I'm sure you've heard countless times already). That is a good thing, since Fallout 3 and Borderlands are some of the best games I've played this generation. Add zombies into the mix, and this could be heavenly. Sadly, it isn't perfect.
When you boot up the game, before you even get to the main menu, there's a cutscene which introduces you to each of the characters. There are 4 characters in the game, and they all have their own back story and combat specialty. One character is a former football star that injured his knee in a car crash and another is a "one hit wonder" rapper. The special skills the characters have have to do with what weapons they use. Xian Mei, for example, is good with sharp edged weapons, and Purna is good with firearms.
Each character also has their own skill tree, which includes Rage, Combat, and Survival trees. You can level up to 50, and you receive 1 skill point to spend for each level you gain. The Rage tree is for upgrading your Rage mode, which is basically a special attack that each character has. Combat is for your combat skills, of course, which includes how much damage you do with blunt weapons, critical hit chance, etc. The Survival skill tree is for your stamina, health, etc. There are many things to upgrade in each tree. This means you can't max out your character completely.
Once you finally choose which character you want to play as, you awaken in your hotel room Seeing as no one is around, you can search around and steal all of the precious money found in luggage. You then find a few dead bodies, and then you're attacked by a zombie, which knocks you out. Luckily, you are saved by a life guard, who's life you will then save once you awake hours later.
This is when you first encounter the combat system. There are two different combat systems in the game. The default system, you just click the right trigger to attack, but the game's combat really shines if you change it to the Analog combat system. This is where you put your crosshairs over a body part on a zombie, hold the LT, then move the right analog stick to swing (Left to right to swing left to right, up and down to swing overhead, etc.).
The reason why the Analog system is so much better, is because you can break, or cut off, zombies limbs. Dead Island features a fantastic (And gruesome) layered damage system. For example, if you cut a zombies arm, the arm will split open where you hit, and you can see everything inside. Dead Island is very gruesome, definitely one of the goriest games I've ever seen, and that is a plus for me.
The island of Banoi is very LARGE.There are actually 4 large open maps in the game, not including inside areas, and each area has many quests. You can find quests all around the island of Banoi. Most of these so called quests, you will find at the games safe houses, but there are also some side quests you will find just by walking around in the jungle, or city.
Dead Island features 8 or so different kinds of enemies. There are the slow Walker zombie (Classic Romero zombie), the fast Infected zombie (28 Days Later), and then there are special infected (Like Left 4 Dead) which include the Suicider, which explodes when it gets close, or the Ram, which rushes at you and knocks you down, taking sometimes a third of your health or more in one hit. There are human enemies, but combat against them ends up being one of the worst parts of the game. It all just boils down to hiding behind cover, and then popping out to land a headshot.
Dead Island features a simple, and great, drop-in-drop-out co-op feature. At any time, you can be playing, and at the bottom right of your screen, a box will pop up telling you that another player is at the same place as you, and all you have to do is hit left on the d-pad to join him/her. You can turn all of this off, and make your game single player only, if you want. One downside to the multiplayer, is that when you play with someone else, the game becomes confused with what you actually did in you're own playthrough, and will sometimes complete parts of quests by itself, making them impossible to finish.
The graphics in Dead Island are pretty good, knowing just how large the game is. Environments are beautiful at times, and lighting is pretty good. Character models for zombies do the job, but the human characters, they look downright ugly. Movement with character's mouth movements don't sync up with their talking, and everyone looks older than they should. The game also does hitch up sometimes, like when reloading guns for whatever reason. Texture pop-in is very bad, and it can take up to 20 seconds to load.
The sound in the game overall, is good. The zombie grunts are especially creepy and well done, adding to the tension. The music goes good with the mood of the game. The only thing that isn't that good is the voice acting. There are a few good voices in there, but those are overthrown by the horribly accented voices that accompany 70% of the characters.
I spent 25 hours on my playthrough, got to level 36, and still want to play more. Looting in Dead Island is a lot of fun, and the game has a weapon rarity system (Like Borderlands (White, Blue, Green, Orange, etc)). There is also a mod system for weapons, which allows you to make simple things like nailed bats, or complex axes that are on FIRE!
Dead Island sounds like my perfect game. Zombies, RPG elements, large open world, etc. It's too bad that it's launched with so many flaws, that can ruin your experience. I for one, really liked Dead Island. The game isn't for everyone, but is definitely worth a try if you are into zombies or RPGs.