Dead Island 2, developed by Dambuster Studios and published by Deep Silver, is the long awaited sequel to the 2011 favourite Dead Island. Falling right in line with its predecessor and taking off as a fast paced, irreverent, action adventure. Dead Island 2 is currently available on Windows PC, PlayStation, and Xbox, and for the purpose of my review I was playing the PlayStation 5 version.
The original Dead Island focused on four survivors who were trying to escape from a fictional island. Dead Island 2, moves the action to iconic city L.A… or… Hell-A. The narrative flows between massive luxurious Beverly Hills mansions, to sunny beaches and Hollywood movie sets. Los Angeles is in quarantine and it's gotten to the point where even the military have backed off. The only hope is found in you, and a small handful of other survivors who by some miracle are resistant to the zombie mutation. The future of Hell-A and all of humanity lies in the hands of these survivors. As you open the game for the first time you’ll have the option for which survivor you're going to play as. Each has unique stats and special abilities and you can choose whichever fits your playstyle.
I love a good open world game, however, sometimes they can be a little bit overwhelming and I can very easily lose sight of what my objective and purpose actually is. Dead Island 2 isn’t linear, but it isn’t open world either. The game is made up of 10 very well made “levels” but they kind of become their own little world to explore which breaks the game up into more manageable portions. Each level felt really unique and brought a different twist to the environment. Some are bigger and others are smaller, but each provides a perfectly sufficient amount of content, where you don’t feel like you’ve flown through it too quickly. Also, at the same time, they aren’t so long where it feels like you're trudging through a tedious mess. Throughout the game, every time I reached a new area I was always excited to start digging into every nook and cranny to find that new unique weapon to enhance my gameplay experience, and uncover every secret Dead Island 2 had to offer me.
In any good zombie game, the combat is of huge importance. It's got to be fun, it needs to be diverse, but not overly complicated, and it can’t become too repetitive. Dead Island 2 almost nails the combat on the head in every aspect listed above. It introduces something called the F.L.E.S.H. system which really elevated and transformed the gameplay. The acronym stands for “Fully Locational Evisceration System for Humanoids” - what does this mean? DISMEMBERING ZOMBIES. UNLIMITED FUN. If you slice open a zombie's arm… it’ll not only fall off, but you’ll see the severed limb break apart from the slicing of steel. Different types of weapons will provide different results with this F.L.E.S.H. system which is one thing I really appreciated. If a dagger had the same visual effects as a katana then the satisfaction of finding those new and improved weapons wouldn’t be so sweet.
One thing I really loved was that I could physically see the damage that I was causing to the zombies. This gave me another idea of how close to death they were because I could physically see them degrading and falling apart before my very eyes. With all this said, the combat does eventually become a little bit repetitive, but that's not necessarily a problem unique to Dead Island 2, and I feel the same can be said for almost all games of a similar genre. Another saving grace for combat is that the difficulty certainly ramps up at a good pace, and you’ll need to apply some form of tactics, and plan to fight your way through an area. You can’t just run through it button bashing.
As a teenager, the first instalment of Dead Island became one of my favourite games for a long time, initially the base game had me gripped, then the release of Dead Island: Riptide, which was a massive DLC expansion, brought me back to the game in 2013. Dead Island 2 was due to be released shortly after that in 2015, however, it was delayed considerably until now. I can’t speak for everyone, but in my opinion with regards to the delay, it was very much a case of “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. For me, there is a lot of nostalgia attached to Dead Island, and I was both excited and anxious to see what the next instalment had to offer. Games have come a long way in the time between, which means that there is a lot more that the creators could have offered in the second instalment.
Many might see this next statement as a negative side, but I don’t. Dead Island 2 is very much just more of the same. This could be problematic if they had churned out 5 or 6 games in the last 10 years and not changed a huge amount in terms of the formula. But this is the second game and they very much stuck to releasing more of the same, and I think that was the right choice. As previously mentioned, Dead Island is very nostalgic for me at this point and I didn’t necessarily want the sequel to reinvent the wheel. So when I say “Dead Island 2 is more of the same” I feel it's a compliment and very far from disappointing in my eyes.
The only aspect I haven’t tested yet is the co-op feature, but if it's anywhere near as enjoyable as co-op on Dead Island, then we’re onto a winner. If you love zombies, blood baths, comedy and a wacky story line, don't sleep on it. Dead Island 2 has brought the original 2011 game into 2023, albeit with a new story, but also with that same wild gameplay and action.
Lj’s Rating 4.5 out of 5.
For more information on Dead Island 2 please use the following links...
Many thanks to PLAION for supplying the review code.