By Video_Game_King 13 Comments
(Let's not dance around the subject: this is Borderlands with zombies.) I can sense half of you looking at me in confusion, and half of you preparing to yell at me (maybe; I'm not sure how Dead Island fans behave), but this is Borderlands with zombies. Same open world structure, same character customization, same weapon system, hell, even the same texture loading problems. I'm not saying that in a bad way (I'm a connoisseur of blurry textures), but just giving you an idea of what's to come.
Except in terms of the story. That's where things are incredibly different. While Borderlands was about looking for a magical space vagina in a George Bush-torn Connecticut, Dead Island starts with some fuck being an asshole at a party. Then you start the game proper, choose a character with a ridiculous amount of backstory (more on that later, though), wind up in a hotel, and start looting every stray bag in sight for money/cell phones/booze. (Apparently, the only things you need to have a fun time in Australia are $20 and a bottle of Hennessy.) Notice how I didn't mention zombies. That's because you don't need motivation to swipe everything that isn't nailed down, only to swipe the nails so you have more to swipe. But after your wanton looting spree, zombies happen, and this is where the game gets interesting. Yes, there's a virus that turns people into zombies, but that's not very important to what the game's going for. While it indulges in that a bit, yet it's not about killing the zombies (FUCK YEA, IT ISN'T!), but more about survival and making sure people can go on living. Hell, the zombies aren't even that important to the story. You could replace them with, say, bears, and it wouldn't change the game too much. Although...Anyway, it's a touching take on a post apocalyptic scenario like zombies.
And then you hit the laboratory, and the story completely goes to shit. What happens there? Well, the developers decide to explain how the zombieness works: first up, a cosmetic scientist is explaining all this to you. That should be warning enough, but it gets worse. Turns out that the virus mutates really goddamn fast. Now I didn't mention it before, but your characters (even if you play as one, the game treats it as though you're playing as four) have an unquestioned immunity to this zombie virus that I'm now forced to question. If it's mutating so quickly, how are they immune to it for so long? What's that? "It stops mutating in their bodies"? Except it's already mutated, and they're already fucked. But the story continues, as you head to a jungle, a prison, and zeros of other places! By the way, the prison is host to the most ignored moral choice ever, the most predictable plot twist in the world (the guy who was leading you the whole time was a bad guy!) and the lamest ending possible (the bad guy gets zombie-fied and becomes a mega-super-mutant for no good reason). Oh, and that same shitty rap song from a few links ago. It's like they purposefully tried to sabotage their game.
That would certainly explain the character selection thing. Aw, that's a little mean; it's well-intentioned, but not well thought out. Remember that Borderlands comparison from before? Well, like Borderlands, you get four characters to choose from, each specializing in one type of combat. Nothing wrong wit-wait, there is something wrong with that: I haven't played the game. How am I supposed to know which play style suits me best? And it's not like I can switch between characters at any point, so if I choose the wrong play style (gun users seem to be fucked for the first all of the game), I'm fucked. OK, this could work in multiplayer, where you're going to see how the other play styles play out. And to be fair, there is some meaty character progression attached to all this, adding a dimension of strategy to this game about shooting zombies in the face. It's just that the premise is shaky, even if the execution makes up for it.
Speaking of execution, killing things! It's really damn fun! What? Does that surprise you? It honestly shouldn't. It's a zombie games; zombie games tend to be good with combat. What should surprise you (assuming you haven't already ready a billion other reviews, of course) is the combat itself: not a lot of it is shooting. Yes, it's a first person shooter, and you do get to shoot, sometimes, but that comes up pretty damn late in the game. For the most part, you're gonna grab whatever's at hand and use that to kill a zombie. Sometimes, you'll find yourself chucking propane tanks at zombies like that one episode of King of the Hill everybody wanted. A lot of the time, though, you're just hoping that you'll either find any sort of weapon to deal with the zombie hoards, or hope that your current weapons won't degrade into rust by the time you hit another enemy. It really goes a long way toward creating that desperate feel a zombie game like this should really have.
A feel, of course, which quickly gets chucked out the goddamn window as soon as you actually start hitting something. Not that that's a bad thing; the combat's the coolest part of the game, provided you do one thing: turn on analog controls. I know that it's a bit funky at first, what with the momentum-based controls at first, but give it time. Soon, you're gonna come to love slicing zombies in half and feeling the weight of a hammer as it plows into their skulls. I know that makes me sound like a sadistic bastard, and that's probably because I am. How else do you explain me finding enjoyment in electrocuting zombies or drowning them in the various kiddy pools littering the land? Throw in some cool enemies (from a gameplay standpoint; artistically, the look kinda dumb) and a level scaling system that keeps the difficulty consistent over the course of the game, and I don't see what else there is to mention ab-
Missions. I forgot the missions. Can you blame me, though? They're not exactly the best parts of the game. A lot of them are fetch quests or some variant thereof, and the only reason you go along with them is because of the promise of zombie killings. Hell, that's a better reward than most of the rewards you get from the missions themselves. Specifically, weapons and money. I've nothing against weapons, even though I often had zero room for them, so that leaves us with money, which really isn't necessary. All those watches and cell phones you swipe from tourists act as a steady source of income, since you can scrounge up weapons very reliably, there's no need to buy new weapons or parts or ammo all that often. In fact, the only thing I spent any real money on (outside dying a ton) were repairs, which, again, aren't terribly necessary for all but the best of weapons in the game. I guess what I'm trying to tell you is that the only reason you have to play this game is the myriad methods of killing zombies. Not that that's a bad thing. Remember my blog from two weeks ago?
- Imagine I Am Legend, but it becomes Code: Veronica X in the third act.
- I guess to make up for that, the developers decided to give you complete in total freedom in how a zombie's head comes off.
- Oh, and you get to run around an island and do stuff that isn't illegal...ish.
- For some reason, I want people to turn this into a game where Hank Hill throws propane tanks at bears. Make it happen, Internets.
You bastards! What h...wait, this is actually pretty good. Habit, I guess.
(And the deja vu continues!) I understand that some (all) of you are confused by this, so let me explain. Long ago, when I was too poor to afford a banner for this thing, I said many kind words about Rayman for the PS1. People didn't really respond, so of course the logical thing to do is the exact same thing as before. Hell, my opinion of it hasn't even changed one bit. I mean that literally; when I went to update the score on this, I realized that I gave it the exact same score as before. (8.1, by the way.) So I guess present me and past me are in agreement on at least one thing: this game rules. (Also, it seems present me and past me have the same writing abilities. Don't judge me.)
Oddly enough, part of it is because of something everybody else was doing at the time: feel like a 90s cartoon. Not in story, though, as that's pretty simple. Mr. Dark (because Evil McBadGuy was presumably taken) has captured all the Electoons in the world, and you have to free them. Throw in Rayman being a genuinely likeable dude (yea, he'll beat you up, but he's still gonna hang out with you after it), and you have the game's story. So where does it get that feel, exactly? Well, Rayman's antics, for one, but it's more due to the art style. Oh my god, the art style, you guys. It's like playing a fucking Disney movie. Everything's just so colorful and vibrant and cheerful that it's hard not to love the look. Granted, a lot of the larger sprites can look iffy, since they were likely scaled up from much smaller versions, but even then, I'm not bitching about it too much. After all, it's hard to complain when you're jumping on pencil-headed Buddhists with drums for eyes. (Though that may be because it's so hard to think in the face of such unlogic.)
It's also hard to complain when the platforming is this goddamn solid. Again, this is because of something that every game back then was doing: speed. Tons and tons of speed, which isn't exactly surprising when you know about the pencil Buddhas. A lot of the levels have you simply running forward really fast and occasionally press the jump button. I know that sounds simple, but it's actually really satisfying when you nail down that specific rhythm. But let's pretend that this doesn't appeal to you, possibly because you're a terrible person. Fear not, you monster, for there's more to this game than mere speed. You also get some Gradius bits, some Sonic CD shrinky bits, even stuff I can't connect to other games. I know that sounds pretty reductionist, but I really do love the levels in this game. For the most part, they manage to find a great idea and mine it for all it's worth. Absolutely no bullshit to find in these levels. Wow, what an awesome game! What faults could you possibly find with this game?
Oh shit. I don't like the looks of this fourth paragraph, you guys. That's never a good sign. What is it this time? The challenge? I don't remember anything to egregious on that front. Yea, you'll get your ass kicked, but it's not overly challenging or anything. Wait, I remember now: the secrets. All the hidden lives and Electoons and all that mess. Now I know that it sounds incredibly petty to complain about how hard it is to find secrets, but a lot of these just violate common sense. Want that extra life? Get to the end of the level and then turn the fuck around. How about that Electoon cage? Jump down that hole which will likely kill you. No, you're not gonna find a secret area; you're just gonna hear a beep shortly before Rayman shuffles off his mortal coil. Normally, this would be a nice addition to the game, but there's one thing getting in the way of that: necessity. You need to find every last Electoon to beat the game. If you want to see the ending, you're gonna have to bounce from level to level, hoping that you find that one cage you didn't manage to find last time...or you could click here. Disappointing, isn't it? You don't even get to fight Mr. Dark or an-WAIT! It finally makes sense! They make you 100% it so you just give up and don't see the crap ending! What's the opposite of "Man, fuck this game"? Because that's how I want to end this blog.....Girl, give this game a prostate exam.
- I know this is going to sound complicated, but Rayman was the Rayman: Origins of its day.
- No, that about covers it, really.
- I'd still go with the PS1 version, though.