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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (495)

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Persona 5 Royal 4.5/5
A Hat in Time 3.5/5
Sunset Overdrive 4/5
The Vagrant 4/5
Honkai: Star Rail 3.5/5
MechWarrior 5: Mercenar... 4/5
Rage 2 3.5/5
Alan Wake 4/5
Riverbond 3.5/5
Dead Island 2 3.5/5
Saints Row IV 3.5/5
The Last of Us Part II 4.5/5
Torchlight III 3/5
Wolfenstein II: The New... 4/5
Ghost of Tsushima 4.5/5
Battletoads (2020) 2/5
Danganronpa: Trigger Ha... 4/5
Override: Mech City Bra... 3/5
Maneater 3/5
Door Kickers: Action Sq... 4/5
Spider-Man (2018) 4.5/5
Red Dead Redemption 2 4.5/5
Boot Hill Heroes 3.5/5
Control 4/5
Victor Vran 3/5

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Dead Island 2   PlayStation 5 

Zombie Killing for Fun and Profit (Mostly for Fun)    3.5/5 stars

Normally when games enter the "development hell" period, the final outcome is a huge disappointment. Dead Island was released in 2011 and, after it's (still) emotionally-charged and amazing trailer - was more or less a generic zombie-killing game that sold solidly but had an otherwise lukewarm reception. Dead Island 2 was planned for a 2015 - and also go a pretty good trailer but all the game languished, changed studios multiple times and was almost written off as DOA - until here we are in 2023 and Deep Silver finally delivers the goods. What's more important is that, while not breaking the mold, Dead Island 2 has turned out to be a decent game after all.

Looks and Stuff: If there was one thing that caused me to pull the trigger instead of waiting to play, it is that the game delivers some truly visceral visuals. Zombie deaths take advantage of the current generation and come across as highly detailed - as do the environments - leading to some bone-crunching, face-punching, limb removing and super gory action. From dangling eyeballs and jaws to spilling innards and burnt flesh - the game doesn't hold back from showing the violence of the zombie apocalypse. Since the game takes place in L.A. it is also a chance to showcase (this game's) version of everything from the high-class Beverly Hills to Muscle Beach to the Santa Monica Pier - and it does a pretty good job of making things appear like the real locations. Likewise, the sound is amazing form zombie groans to gun fire and more - while the music is pretty forgettable, the sound design itself is outstanding.

The game wasn't without glitches - your typical rag-doll shenanigans reared up at times and the game crashed at least twice (but the generous auto save meant no major progress was lost). There were no game-breaking bugs I encountered nor any broken quests or achievements.

Story: Taking place 14 years after the events in Dead Island (and the Riptide DLC), the zombie outbreak has moved from the fictional island of Banoi to L.A. (and possibly beyond, thought the game never hints at what is happening outside the infected zone). The game begins with a group of people attempting to escape on one of the last planes out of the city - some are supposed to be on the plane and others have managed to sneak or bribe their way aboard - but all that is for naught as an infected passenger cause chaos and the plane is shot down by the military. Your chosen survivor climbs through the wreckage and managed to save actress Emma Jaunt, her agent and another passenger. Jaunt's swanky house becomes the first base of operations - and the small group is soon joined by Sam B (one of the original Dead Island survivors), an old flame of Emma's. Like Sam B, the main character finds out they are also immune, and soon find themselves in contact with Dr. Reuben Reed - who wants to meet up but this means traversing the zombie-infested city. Along the way, the players learns that tech-mogul Lola Konradt has not only survived herself, but has gained amazing powers - and she wants to unlock that same power within you. Of course, it turns out Reed has ulterior motives and that the new outbreak seems tied to cult that believes it is the next step in human evolution. Konradt and a small group (that includes you) are dubbed "Numen" - a new category that is beyond simply homo sapien - and the cliffhanger ending promises more to come (hopefully it won't take another decade this time).

Gameplay: A first-person action game, you get to kill all the zombies you want - slow ones, fast ones, beefy ones, screamy ones, sharp ones, fire ones, fat ones, fat fire ones, screamy electric ones and even a few boss ones. Like the previous game, you start off with the most basic of weapons but you get to craft some much better weapons as you go. You also get guns - pistol, shotgun, rifle - your friends are all here. And you can add bleed, fire, acid or electric as you so choose. Sharp, blunt or bullets - each weapon makes an impact (literally) as you crush, main, decapitate and take off limbs left and right. You also have curveballs - throwable weapons (everything from molotovs to shurikens to grenades) that can help out in a pinch or take down groups. You can also simply jump kick or slide to hurt zombies - weak at first, but as the game goes on you can turn these into some much more powerful attacks. You eventually unlock a rage mode as well and this short burst allows you to decimate any crowd or take down the more annoying "special" zombies much easier.

The game has no shortage of quests and side-missions. Certain zombies drop keys that open up special chests that give you unique weapons or a lot of cash. People need saved around the city - from a too-cheery influencer to an old-school actor to a group of insane daredevils - you'll meet a lot of characters along the way. You can also buy fuses to unlock certain doors - behind which are usually better weapons and plenty of supplies and blueprints. The blueprints open up a way to craft deadlier weapons - you also get these from the story missions as well. Early on, money and supplies are in short supply but by the end of the game, you won't have much need for either. In fact, one of the best guns in the entire game is opened up very early (provided to you take the side mission) and you can spend money to raise it to your level (along with any other weapons you like). The game also has a collection of legendary weapons you can find - but almost all are close to end game - fun to use but I wish a few of them were available earlier.

Finally, the game also gives you survivor cards - these are added bonuses that just make things more fun. Certain characters get certain cards that reflect their type - whether they are tanks or agile dodgers - there are cards that will suit every playing style. That is good as the game throws in a bunch of annoying types of zombies - Crushers, Slobberers, Screamers, Butchers and the super-annoying Mutator - often more than one at a time - so any advantage you can get, take it. The most effective ones for me was anything that gave you health for things like taking off a limb or killing a zombie or even for blocking (yes, the game has a blocking mechanic - go figure). That and added status effects were always a boon.

The downside to Dead Island 2 is that no matter how fun it is to take down zombies - no matter how awesome it looks - there is only so much you can do and the killing does get repetitive - especially towards the end. Even for a zombie gore-hound connoisseur like me by the end it felt like a chore.

Replay value: The mostly open-world has plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, people to help and weapons to collect - and it let's you play on past the end. The game also gives you plenty of characters to pick and choose - with a shared inventory even - so the zombie killing is nigh never ending if you so choose.

Final Verdict: If you want a game where you can kill zombies with extreme prejudice with a variety of characters and don't mind a weak story and a bit of repetition - here you go.

Presentation: 4/5
Story: 3/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Replay: 4/5
Overall (not an average): 3.5/5



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