Dead Island has built up quite a reputation as a solid zombie smasher over the years, and while it’s not been without it’s negative points, there’s an avid following eager to experience more of the action.
Dead Island Definitive edition contains 3 titles from the franchise so far, the amazing starting point of Dead Island, it’s sequel come stand-alone expansion, Dead Island : Riptide which while a better game overall didn’t boast much new to the franchise, while the third offering of Dead Island : Retro Revenge which initially looked like a side-scrolling beat-em up seems somewhat different.
Firstly back to Dead Island, You’re on the island of Hanoi at a party with live music blaring out as you stagger intoxicated through the dance floor, this short intro section set’s the scene perfectly, as you start to notice weird things out the corner of your drunken eyes.
You stagger back to your room to wake up the next morning with a headache and little memory of the night before, but as you leave your room things aren’t quite what they seem, especially when you see bodies falling from the balcony above.
Soon enough the world kicks in to motion as your running from hordes of zombies with events leaving you again unconscious and waking this time in a small hut, about to get your head pummeled with a cricket bat, You stagger to your feet before heading outside with a broom in hand to fight off a group of zombies attacking Simano, the guy who helped rescue you.
You meet a variety of characters at this point, but your basic quest becomes protecting these characters while trying to escape the Bedlam of what was once a tranquil holiday destination, there’s plenty of back and forth running errands and picking up side-quests while you keep your eyes open for anything a little stronger than a broom handle with a wide selection of weapons available especially melee though you come across guns too.
This first section has stuck with me over the years, and upon firing up the Definitive edition, there was a nostalgic trip down memory lane as I again played out the early minutes, this time graphics are improved considerably, with the game world sharp and colourful and worthy of the next-gen title, moving through the game there’s not a lot that has changed, so it’s worth mentioning fans who completed the games prior might not be as enthusiastic about a return to Hanoi.
But the work done graphically making this quite a step up, Lighting, shaders, textures and he likes have all received massive overhauls, Deep Silver have done a fantastic job of modifying the look of the title and anyone who’s played the fantastic Metro Redux will have some idea of the quality to anticipate.
Dead Island Riptide the stand alone expansion of sorts, was never quite the peak of the series for me, I enjoyed it, and the few new zombies and excuse to pummel some more Zombies ment it was a good game, but there wasn’t quite enough new to the franchise to warrant top-class status, But as a complete package beside Dead Island (1) There’s well over 100 hours of gameplay on offer here, which while not technically perfect, is simply great fun, the Melee centric combat means you usually have to get up close and personal and the ongoing RPG system helps to make whichever character you choose stronger the more you play, depending who you choose carries it’s weapon ability so one will be better with sharp objects whereas another might be better suited to firearms, or blunt melee weapons.
Like the original titles, the Definitive Edition will be viewed on it’s merits, with the original titles seen by many as ‘buggy’ there’s an ominous shadow hanging over the Definitive Edition.
Thankfully most of those bugs have been ironed out, including all patches released prior and even a crazy PC mod, it’s not a floorless experience, but it is consistently good which is far better than some AAA titles I could mention and a leap beyond the original titles.
On to Retro Revenge, and this unique offering catches the eye for an even larger dose of nostalgia than the original titles, however I have to say I was somewhat disappointed.
When I first caught glimpse of Retro Revenge, I was expecting a Streets of Rage clone, but instead it’s more like an on-rails endless runner,
You move left to right and have three lanes, as Zombies appear you can smack the 4 face buttons to dispatch the enemies, and then move between the 3 lanes to mop up others for extra points or evade those exploding ones which will quickly end your game if your health is already low.
It’s a fun distraction and there’s depth offered by combo’s and a timing reticule which will give you a point boost and a combo multiplier as you land consecutive hits.
Early on there’s little need to do anything other than smash a button at the right time, but you’ll soon be trying to intentionally kick one zombie into the exploders to clear a path. There’s also quite a selection of zombies as you continue with some requiring multiple hits, perfect timing or certain combinations to dispatch quickly.
There’s some definite depth to Retro Revenge, but it all feels too familiar far too quickly, and It’s let down my my own wishes for a true side-scrolling beat-em up.
As an overall package though it’s not even the tip of the ice-berg the majority of people will be looking at Dead Island and Riptide and within these two titles you’ve got the next-gen remake quality that Deep Silver do so well, There’s plenty of gameplay and depth and if you’ve got 3 friends with the same game, you can still enjoy the co-op of each of the two main titles.
Most people will draw comparisons to Dying Light as a first person zombie title with a strong emphasis on Melee with a 4 player co-operative action, But just like Call of Duty and Battlefield most true gamers will make sure there’s space in their collection for both.
So that brings the question, should you be adding the Definitive Edition to your Xbox One library, and that depends entirely on what you’ve had prior.
Dying light is somewhat of a mismatch, it’s a much more vertical game crammed with Parkour, whereas Dead Island is very grounded and sticks to the combat with zombies rather than just running away.
If you’ve owned Dead Island and/or Riptide prior you might not be looking at the best value for money, Sure it looks considerably better than the last generation versions, but the base game is pretty much identical. So if you had and completed both titles and lack the ambition to do the same again then Retro Revenge certainly isn’t enough to justify the budget price.
However anyone who loved the originals, or those who failed to get round to completing them, and everyone who missed them all together should strongly consider the Definitive Edition.
I always felt that Deadl Island (and the Riptide expansion) where fantastic titles, both single player and even more so co-operatively, with a much sharper, smoother and better looking experience on offer It’s worth every penny.
Sadly Retro Revenge isn’t quite the selling point I’d hoped, but it’s still a novel extra which might kill a few hours.
But when you have well over 100 hours from the original Dead Island and the Riptide stand-alone, there’s little denying this is great value for money