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Dead Island: Definitive Edition Review

Dead Island: Definitive Edition Review

Click here to see our original reviews of Dead Island and Dead Island: Riptide.

Who asked for this? Why has Dead Island reared its rotting head once more? Yeah, I know it was reasonably well received at the time, but that was 2011. That was *five* years ago. So many other (read: better and more deserving) games have come along since then that I would much rather have all spruced up for my PS4.

Those were my initial thoughts.

I played Dead Island a lot back when it originally came out. Being the mix of Dead Rising and Left 4 Dead that my mates and I wanted at the time, we spent many hours smashing and slicing up zombies on the island of Banoi. None of us ever thought it was great, though - after we’d had our fun, we never thought we’d come back. I skipped Riptide after all.

zombie dide2

These two games have now been ported over to Techland’s latest engine, the same they used for Dying Light last year. With that comes many visual upgrades, but don’t come to this expecting any gameplay tweaks to bring it more in line with their most recent release - this is the same game again, but with a lick of paint.

The thing that struck me immediately on stepping out onto the beach was how much this looks like Dying Light now; they’ve introduced that same hazy, humid look that Light had, but have unfortunately lost much of the colour that defined Dead Island. Other improvements are the expected standard: 1080p display, higher quality textures (and I feel like some retexturing in some places), anti-aliasing, improved character models, HBAO (Horizon-based Ambient Occlusion, to add depth to the world), and motion blur.

This all combines to make Dead Island look like it belongs on the current gen consoles. It’s also remarkable how much better some decent visual improvements make a game like this feel - the zombies are far more satisfying to destroy when they don’t look quite like they’re made of plasticine.

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The glaring omission from that list should be an improved frame rate - despite the jump to the current gen consoles, Dead Island: Definitive Edition still caps at 30 fps. It can be said that it’s a far more consistent 30 than it was on the previous version as I’ve not noticed any major drops in my time reviewing.

As for the game itself, Dead Island is a zombie slashing RPG. Fairly large hubs serve as the overworld, with quest-givers and items scattered around to encourage exploration. You get XP for chopping off and crushing heads, and this leads into a trio of skill trees which improve things like your damage output, your survivability, that sort of thing. You can craft weapons from parts found around the map, and spend cash to upgrade them (what? How does that even work, Techland?).

At the start of the game, you choose from one of a small range of characters, and each has their own speciality: for example, rapper Sam B favours melee weapons and has a skill tree that reflects that, and Purna can get better results out of firearms. They also have different values for health and stamina, but not to a point that it makes too much of a difference.
Ideally, you want to play Dead Island with friends, as otherwise it can grow to be a bit of a dull grind. Hitting a zombie over the head with a paddle is funny the first hundred times, but once you’re eight hours deep, you’ll need all the help you can get to squeeze some enjoyment out. You can play with up to three friends, importing your own characters with their weapons and stats.

sinamoi dide

Being released at a discount price, there’s no arguing that you get a lot of game for your money, with two full games and a bonus arcade-style title in the bundle as well. Ultimately, it comes down to whether or not you feel like you missed out on the original releases and if you want to give it another shot - and I’d say it’s worth it.

The two downsides to this collection are the method of distribution and the bonus arcade game. When buying a physical copy of Dead Island: Definitive Edition, only the first game is on the disc - the other is obtained through a download code. This seems a little ridiculous when compared to three remastered Uncharted games being released on a single disc last year.

Dead Island: Retro Revenge also has to be downloaded, and I’m not sure you’ll want to play it for more than 10 minutes. Half endless runner, half button-masher, Retro Revenge has a character running in lanes across a screen, punching zombies as he comes across them. Carefully timing your button press to when the small reticule ahead of him passes over a cross on the enemy will score more points, and disposing of enemies in certain ways can also do so. It’s a shame that the game just isn’t fun. If it was more in line with that arcade Scott Pilgrim game, this could have been good.

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While I was initially sceptical about this re-release, a few hours in I realised that I was actually enjoying it again, and totally understood why they brought it back. Dead Island: Definitive Edition is the version they wanted to release back in 2011, but couldn’t. With the improved performance, where the combat before felt sluggish, it now feels far more responsive. The world, too, with the visual enhancements, seems far more inviting and far less boring.

Definitely one of the strongest remasters available on the current gen consoles, with enough improvements to more than compete with most new games. In a surprise turn, it also manages to better its original release - it’s been a long time since the title “Definitive Edition” was this well earnt.

7.00/10 7

Dead Island Definitive Edition (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

Definitely one of the strongest remasters available on the current gen consoles, with enough improvements to more than compete with most new games. In a surprise turn, it also manages to better its original release - it’s been a long time since the title “Definitive Edition” was this well earnt.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Tom Bickmore

Tom Bickmore

Staff Writer

Biggest mug at GameGrin

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