Chances are you’ll have seen the above trailer for zombie bashing sim Dead Island as it’s been passed around the internet for the last couple of weeks. Hell, you might even have seen the mashup of the Wii Dare trailer with the poignant music of Dead Island. But it doesn’t say a lot about the game itself, so FHM set off to learn more.
That, and meet some hot girls dressed as zombies. Did we mention them?
We’re led into the cracked, peeling walls of Shoreditch Town Hall by a PR lady with a torch. It’s completely dark and the mix of dead ends, missing walls and potholes make it feel fairly treacherous even before what came next. She pulls aside a bloodstained sheet with “NO LIVING ALLOWED” scrawled on it, and motions for us to follow her into the pitch black.
There’s a scream – a girl, in a bikini is hiding behind an overturned deckchair, gnawing on an arm. She’s done up like a zombie, and she’s rocking back and forth and clawing at us as we go past. We’re about to play along with the charade and ask if she’s okay (and well, okay, she looked cute under the makeup) but we’re hastened along by a shouting man (also a zombie) dressed in a vest and swimming trunks, thrashing about and generally making lots of noise.
We continue – there’s a maze of corridors, blood, screaming girls and darkness, and we eventually surface in a back room where some chairs have been set up and a big-screen TV is stuck at one end.
It certainly wasn't as nice as this room, even if our zombies were hotter
We stumble through and take a seat as Vincent Kummer, Head of Brand for Dead Island, shows us through the game after we’re treated to a viewing of that infamous trailer with live music played by a chap who is apparently hiding somewhere nearby with a piano.
Our character (a washed-up rapper named “Sam D”) wakes up after being rescued from the hotel that we can see in the trailer, and proceeds to mess up some zombies in and around the resort on the beach. He grabs an oar and lays into the first group, which is soon replaced with a pipe wrench, a hammer, a plank, a fireaxe, and explosive knives, of all things.
This isn't Sam D, but you get the idea
He’s fighting all the time, and it’s brutal stuff – gory, squelching hand-to-hand is the order of the day as guns and few and far between but lengths of stout material to smash in zombie heads are cheap and plentiful.
The game feels entirely natural considering what we’ve come to expect from zombie games, and the first-person genre, in the last few years.
There’s the open-world and RPG elements of Fallout 3 (the entire map is open from the start although it’s likely that they’ll use levelled monsters to keep us in our place), the class system of Borderlands (you can play as a tank, an assassin, a leader or a “jack of all trades”), the weapon construction from Dead Rising 2 and the constant, high-action battle against hundreds of zombies from Left 4 Dead.
This one appears to be wearing a plush sarcophagus
So what’s new? Not a lot, to be honest – you can see the moves that the developers have made at every turn. But what’s awesome? Basically everything.
Smashing a zombie’s head in and kicking them down a flight of stairs is an integral part of the gameplay. Crafting weapons (electric machetes, the aforementioned knife bombs, baseball bats with nails in) is important too, and Vincent said that there’d be a “couple of thousand” unique weapons in the final game.
There’s going to be “seamless” online co-op available, too – so over the course of the single-player campaign, your mates can drop in and help you out with your zombie bashing then leave whenever they want to.
It’s exciting stuff, and it looks like it’s going to be one of the great games made this year. It’s set for an August release in the states, and hopefully we won’t be too far behind.