For what it’s worth, I thoroughly enjoyed Dead Island when it launched back in 2011, the beautiful sun-drenched island and beaches of Hanoi, overrun with a horrific plague, offered a great platform for some truly bone-crunching gratuitous violence, if that is your kind of thing…of course. While the many side missions bordered on the repetitive side, the main story and open scale world that led me to luscious green Jungles and a burnout City offered more than enough entertainment to leave me wanting more action. Of course, the option to beat down, incinerate or decapitate a horde of bloodthirsty zombies is always better with friends, and with up to four players, Dead Island and its sequel Riptide could be played co-operatively. Dead Island: Definitive Collection gathers up both titles along with the 2D Retro Revenge and sends them hurtling towards the current generation consoles but is a return to Hanoi a good thing?
Dead Island: Definitive Collection: Xbox One [Reviewed], PC, PlayStation 4
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release Date: 31 May 2016
Price: £24.99 Sold Separately: £12.79 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
Over the past five years, Techland has managed to perfect the art of developing intense, fast-paced blood ridden experiences that would leave you hiding in fear behind your couch, Dead Island and the ensuing Riptide sold millions of units worldwide, proving to be a great success. Those early titles would pave the way forward and prove to be the perfect springboard into 2015’s Dying Light. The unforgiving and lightning quick streets of Harran are evidence that the studio has evolved, learned from past mistakes, fine tuned and turned out a fantastic horror game with a winning formula, harrowing survival in it’s purest form. A crop of remastered games are currently making their way over to the Xbox One and PlayStation from the previous generation consoles, so it really comes as no surprise or shock to see Dead Island: Definitive Collection rise from the dead, bringing with it more carnage and bloodshed then you can swing your broken paddle stick at.
The worst vacation in history!
So to quickly recap, you awake in your Hotel room on the beautiful island of Hanoi off the gloriously blue pacific ocean. What should have been a relaxing vacation in the sun quickly turns into utter chaos as a plague breaks out turning holiday makers and natives alike into flesh-hungry fiends who will haunt your every step. It just so happens that you’re immune to this deadly virus. That doesn’t, of course, mean players are immune to getting their arses handed to them on a silver plate. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Fact: Until you manage to tool yourself up with better, more aggressive and deadlier weapons the early going of both games can be harsh and tough on not only your mental state but furthermore, on your controller. Your mere presence can provoke a sudden onslaught of speed running zombies that quickly descend on your current location in the blink of an eye, tearing away at your very existence as well as chunks of your flesh.
At times, Dead Island can prove to be a tough game to traverse, a real war of attrition. Busted up and worn down weapons can be quickly repaired at makeshift workbenches, this will happen a lot as apparently wielding a baseball bat against an angry zombie’s cranium over and over till its head splits in two takes its toll after a while, but it costs money to perform said repairs, something I always found strange. Upgrades to each weapon bear similar costs. Finding money around the island isn’t too taxing, seeing as the entire population no longer require currency to purchase the finer things in life, instead, your brain will suffice, or any limb they can sink their teeth into for that matter.
Locating valuable weapons is key and can be found through locked boxes or completing side missions while navigating through Hanoi and its surrounding areas, not completing these tasks, no matter how repetitive they may appear can be detrimental to your very survival and will see you on your backside more often than on your two feet. Of course, the very idea of going from point A to point B to retrieve a meaningless item, just so a model can sip the best champagne while the world crumbles around her might seem like a ludicrous notion at first, however, when said model is willing to pay you with a finely sharpened fresh machete that can deal more damage than your battered and bruised wooden plank then it’s a given that you’re going to help out. Assist is a very potent word in Dead Island because it’s what you spend most of your time doing. There are a lot of people, each with their own set of problems and apparently a washed up ex-pro footballer is just the guy to relieve these morons of their not so worldly problems, no time to think about a possible escape from this hell then, but that’s all part and parcel of the fun and overall, the experience.
When not repairing broken weapons or constructing bombs or weapon attachments at a workbench there are several skill trees to work through with skill points rewarding players for killing zombies and completing various quests through a leveling system. The three separate skill tree’s help players to become a better all round survivor, assisting them in the art of combat while also building up each characters special ability ‘Rage’, which can get you out of real bind at times when bogged down or facing a monster that could end your life with one unerring swing of its fist, the simple tap of a button will light up all enemies in red and allow you to dispatch of them quickly. Both games follow a similar style and pattern, so what works in Dead Island follows through into Riptide, tried and tested.
Working through both Dead Island and Dead Island Riptide alone feels like a mountain climb without the glorious view of the landscape once you finally reach the summit. All too often you find yourself swimming against a tide of hideous zombies who want nothing more than to rip your flesh from your bones and feast on your remains. While navigating jungles or streets you are more than likely to attract them just by being in their vicinity, like a prowling shark stalking its prey, most zombies can creep up on you from behind without you ever knowing they were there to begin with and startling at times. Opening yourself up to the idea of allowing another player or friend into your game unleashes endless possibilities and can lighten the load. With up to four players, what was once an unnerving slug fest through a barrage of flesh munchers is now, not only a more enjoyable experience, but you actually feel like your making headway into the story, the quicksand removed from beneath your feet.
Dead Island: Definitive Collection is a great package that boasts a wealth of content with both full titles giving you upwards of 30+ hours of blood-curdling action as well as throwing in the games previously released DLC for absolutely nothing, not to mention the introduction of 2D Side Scrolling beat ’em up, Dead Island Retro Revenge. Retro Revenge is an exciting prospect that combines classic titles like Streets of Rage with a Dead Island twist.
Playing similar to the classic arcade titles of the eighties, Retro Revenge, however, removes the option to walk on your own, instead players move automatically throughout each level with movement restricted to changing between lanes and the action buttons, which, in turn, allow players to fight off various sized zombies in a whole manner of ways. Power-ups can be collected and abilities such as explosions used to work your way through the mean streets. The introduction of a classic 2D side scroller to the collection is a novel idea, sadly it wears a little thin after a short while and won’t eat up too much of your time, with the bulk of the collections action found in the games main titles.
Of course, this is a remastered collection, so what of its improvements? From a visual standpoint, Dead Island and Dead Island Riptide stand up well on the current generation platform and while the framerate only manages a stable 30FPS, the game’s atmosphere has been vastly improved thanks to better lighting and higher quality textures and the game’s character models have also been improved. Ultimately, Dead Island: Definitive Collection doesn’t quite reach the heavy heights of the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 graphically but it certainly doesn’t look out of place compared to other remastered titles on the market today.
Dead Island and it’s sequel Riptide were popular titles after their release on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, it makes perfect sense that remastered versions of the games would come about if justice could be done to each and with Dead Island: Definitive Collection, developers, Techland have certainly succeeded. Technically, the collection does not look at all out of place on the Xbox One/PlayStation 4 and gives players the chance to return to Hanoi once more for some good old fashioned blood-splattered fun. The setting is perfect, the action – fast and frantic but the most important cog in the Dead Island engine is its ability to allow players to team up with friends and other players to take on the infection, that feature remains and that alone would be enough for me to part with my hard earned cash. Overall, the Dead Island collection provides some gruesome if not monotonous fun at a good price.