Saturday, April 22, 2023

"Dead Island 2," Feels Trapped in the Past With Little To Offer Us in the Present

I didn't play a ton of, 'Dead Island 2," but from what I did something clearly became apparent. I would say that, "Dead Island 2," feels like a throwback to the video games of 5-10 years ago. That can be a compliment, but in this case, it is not a compliment. The first, "Dead Island," came out in 2011 with a stand-alone kinda-expansion kinda-sequel in 2013. This was announced back in 2014 and was supposed to come out in 2015 before countless delays and rebuilding from scratch. If this game we've now been given had been released in 2015, it would be relatively impressive. It ain't 2015 though.

I think in 2015 having as a major selling point that the zombies look gross as you beat them up would've made sense. Chunks of flesh fly off to reveal muscles and brains, eyeballs pop out, bones crunch, and it is otherwise impressively disgusting on a PS5. If only so much thought had gone into making any of the characters interesting, or the dialogue, plot, and so forth less bland. There is some fun in tossing a gas canister into a downed powerline and watching as a bunch of zombies blow up just as scavenging for gear can be a good time (I love exploring for little goodies in games). I want to care about the human characters though or have the environment I'm in be somewhat interesting. I can't help but think of the, "Dying Light," games that the creators of the first, "Dead Island," went on to make and how much better those are. 

The first, "Dying Light," was fun and the second was just superb. In, "Dying Light 2," the city you explore is eerily beautiful and fascinating. The first-person parkour is a hoot, and I actually was into the story and its characters even if some reviews disparaged it. "Dead Island 2," takes place in a Los Angeles which is overrun with zombies. This sequel lacks any noticeable improvements over the first game from over a decade ago beyond some snazzy graphics, the zombie gore, and a tedious skill system that involves choosing cards representative of abilities that have a very minor impact on the game.

If all you want from a zombie video-game is disturbingly detailed violence, you'll adore, "Dead Island 2." However, I found the idea of smacking zombies around for hours pretty tedious if the story/dialogue/etc. couldn't make me care about why I was stomping on countless undead and offered little gameplay beyond, "Here, now you get a weapon that makes the zombies electrified!" Playing, "Dead Island 2," in 2023 is like running into someone you used to really like hanging out with who hasn't changed since you last saw them a decade ago. The fact they haven't matured or gained any further depth is quite disappointing. The, "Dead Island," games of 2011 and 2013 were a hoot, but I want the, "Dead Island 2," we get in 2023 to offer some kind of depth beyond, "Look at that zombie's jaw go flying when you hit it with a pool cue!" I don't think I played enough, "Dead Island 2," to offer a truly detailed and intricate review, but from what I did play, I'll say I'm glad I just rented the game for the week instead of buying it. From what I played, I'd rate this 1.5 out of 5 stars and advise you to play something else.

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