Don’t trust my opinion about Techland’s Dead Island, released just weeks ago on Sept. 9. Instead take the advice of a 9-year-old gaming guru who proclaims this video game just ain’t for kids.
Actually, Master M we’ll call him for reference purposes and not to disclose the identity of a minor, said, “Grownups should be the only ones playing Dead Island unless they let their kids see gore and dismemberment.”
I had the privilege of powering up for some afternoon gaming with Master M, a two-handed joystick junky who can navigate co-op play on his Xbox Live faster than Speedy Gonzalez says, “Andale, andale! Arriba, arriba!” (Now there’s an analogy we children of the ’80s can identify with, right?)
But Speedy Gonzalez was a Looney Tunes cartoon. Dead Island, although loony in a grotesque way, and a cartoon, is a first-person horror action video adventure and one of the most violent video games I’ve ever reviewed.
Utilizing his “Live” capabilities, Master M played with one other friend and invited a third who messaged that she wanted to join the game but siblings had out voted her and they were settling into Netflix instead. Therefore, Master M and his friend “Big K” played. talking through the system as if they were in the same room together.
Rated M+ for 17 year olds and older, Dead Island is popular with younger people for its close combat and enemy intrigue — zombies. Undoubtedly zombies are the enemy of choice for the Millennial generation. Children seem to be obsessed with games that entreat targeting brainless drones. Dead Island’s zombies are string bikini beach babes and tattooed, six-pack-ab hunks, not the fangled-toothed, more-funny-than-frightening characters of Plants vs. Zombies, reviewed Aug. 25.
This free roaming or “open world” game, meaning players make choices about which direction to go, is set on a beautiful tropical island, the island of Banoi. Tragically, amid the sand, sea, swimming pools and tiki huts, there’s a zombie infestation. The beautiful bodied albeit grisly faced zombies moan and yell as they attack those vacationing on the island and turn them into zombies. Over the sound of the oceans, you hear cries for help. One scene depicts a man wailing over his parents and wife who he has just killed because they had been attacked and turned into zombies. It’s a horrifying and memorable scene.
Your character, one of four to choose from — Xian Mei, Logan, Sam B. and Purna (a maximum of four can play at any given time) is opportunely immune to the zombie epidemic. As a result you strike out on missions and campaigns to kill zombies, save people and survive.Killing is of the melee sort and absolutely brutal. Using weapons like pipes, boat paddles and other blunt objects retrieved from dead, bleeding bodies, you press the right trigger to bludgeon zombies to death, oftentimes dismembering them. Blood squirts, heads roll and arms and legs fly … off. As you collect weapons, you store them up and retrieve or trade weapons by holding down the right front bumper and accessing the wheel of weapons.
XP experience points are awarded for saving people and completing missions. Stamina is constantly monitored, waning as you run and move but increasing as you attack and kill zombies. And you gain rage, which leads to fury, a blue glowing spirit-like outline encompassing your character’s body that allows you to really whup up on zombies with minimal effort.
Speaking of rage and fury, vacationers on Dead Island are none too happy about the zombie epidemic and verbalize their discontent. “F—king, Jesus Christ” and “S—t” among other expletives, are regularly expressed.
Dead Island is designed for the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Live and downloadable on the PC. Take Master M’s advice. Dead Island is no paradise.