Sunday 25 January 2015

Escape Dead Island

Back in February 2011 the first trailer to Dead Island was released, the first-person open-world zombie horror game by developer Techland.  The trailer was completely CGI and featured a zombie attack on a family that was shown entirely in reverse. Played alongside the beautiful music of Giles Lamb the internet had a shit fit about how good it was. Countless websites were wetting themselves by how “moving” it was. Psssht, my first thought when watching it was, “They must really not wanna show real gameplay!”. Whenever I see a CGI trailer alarm bells start to ring. So after picking up Dead Island back in mid-2012 (in CeX, of course) I wasn't completely surprised to find it wasn't “moving” like the original trailer. In fact it was shit, like, really shit. From it's awful graphics, terrible combat mechanics and PS1-era enemy A.I, Dead Island pulled the wool over the eyes of many critics before release. I can't blame them really, as I think until its release gamers were starved for zombie games. Now- thanks to The Walking Dead- they're a dime a dozen. So with Dead Island being such a failure I wasn't too thrilled to dive into a new spin-off from the series. Escape Dead Island is like Dead Island in many ways, just much worse in every way imaginable.

Developed by Fatshark and out now on Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC comes Escape Dead Island,  the worst game released in 2014. The first big mistake made by Fatshark is the protagonist they make you play as. Looking like he's off the set of Jersey Shore complete with a shitty tattoo, popped collar and ridiculous looking muscles, you play the role of Cliff Calo. He's a spoiled brat and a complete arsehole, you know, everything you want in a character you'll be stuck with for 7 hours or so! In a bid to start up his very own media outlet, Cliff and his two friends venture to the elusive island of Banoi, which is the location where the original Dead Island is set. After coming across a mass grave of corpses that begin to come back to life, Cliff and his friends must... wait for it... Escape Dead Island! Come on, I had to.

Escape Dead Island differs from Dead Island is three big ways- it's world, player perspective and crafting. First off, it's no longer open-world. Yes, instead of offering the player a massive Far Cry 4-like world to get lost in, Fatshark have gone down the route of large-ish connected areas. It's kind of like the I Can't Believe It's Not Butter of butter- it's trying to be butter, but it just isn't. Then there's the player perspective which compared to previous entries, is now firmly locked into third-person mode. There's no real reason given for this change, but whatever Fatshark were trying to achieve with it, it failed. Finally there's crafting, a mechanic in Dead Island that let you pretty much cobble together your own weapons from random bits and pieces. Fatshark have completely removed it from Escape Dead Island- it's gone. Why? Who the hell knows.

Gameplay essentially boils down to two elements- stealth and, well, not stealth. You'll spend most of your time running around beating and shooting zombies to death. From two melee attacks to utilise and an extremely shallow list of weapons to choose from, combat is tired, dull and just plain boring. However, playing the game with stealth in mind doesn't bode any better either, with it just coming across as clumsy and broken. For instance, in order to perform a stealth take-down you need to be directly behind your target, like, perfectly right behind his back. This leads to most of your take-downs just failing as you scramble to find that sweet spot. Between trying to kill zombies silently and shooting them in their faces with crappy weapons, there's not much else to do in Escape Dead Island other than picking up a few collectibles.

Much like the gameplay Escape Dead Island utterly fails visually. It looks like an up-scaled PSP game due to a terrible and lazy use of cel shading, ugly character models, laughable blood effects, murky textures and animations that just looked half finished. It's an ugly, ugly game. Ultimately the game can be finished through button bashing, occasionally looking at the screen and following the the many corridor-like levels to their ends. It's lazy game development 101, and just another reason why I despise the series as a whole.

Escape Dead Island gets eaten alive by zombies and gets a 1/5.


Denis Murphy

Escape Dead Island at CeX

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