Posts Tagged ‘RPG’

If you asked me a couple of months ago about the game Dragon’s Crown I would respond to you with this phrase. “What’s Dragon’s Crown?” Before E3 I had no clue about this game, but during the show I became more aware about this action/role playing adventure. However, most media members were paying more attention to a certain Sorceress’ large rack. Breasts aside, as the professional journalist that I am, I was able to look past the succulent tits and focus in on what’s important. What I can tell you is that beneath all the scrutiny Dragon’s Crown is actually a very entertaining fantasy adventure filled with tons of action as well as satisfaction.

Developed by Vanillaware, most known for games including Odin’s Sphere and Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Dragon’s Crown is a hack-n-slash brawler featuring six adventurers on a quest for the Dragon’s Crown which is said to give them control of a dragon. Considering the fact that I’m a veteran of titles like Golden Axe, Dungeons & Dragons, and numerous Gauntlet games I found myself quite comfortable with the brawling style that’s presented in Dragon’s Crown. The combat moves are very simplistic to perform which never left me frustrated at any point during the game including the epic boss battles. Truth be said, once I started playing Dragon’s Crown I became addicted.

On this adventure six classes were available for me to select from. Right off the bat I chose the Fighter which looks like a badass knight. I was able to customize my character in terms of name, colors, and creative messages (I did a few Gauntlet ones for the nostalgia). The Fighter is more of a “tank” character allowing me to get a feel of the game. Then I started playing as the other characters testing out their unique strengths and weaknesses. Characters including the Dwarf and Amazon are also good starters with their melee and limited magic attacks. As for the other characters the Elf is great at ranged attacks with her bow. The Warrior and Sorceress are both weak in terms of melee attacking, but are awesome with their wide range of powerful magic attacks as well as summoning the dead to fight for them.

Questing in Dragon’s Crown can be achieved in solo gameplay which allows me to work on character progression as well as allowing the selfish part of me to keep all the loot I earn. I can also gain companions that I resurrect from the dead to join me on quests along with a rogue thief to open treasure chests. Of course this game is also even better with a few friends to join in on the adventure. Dragon’s Crown excels with both couch and online co-op for up to four players. There is a catch. The ability to play online is an unlockable option so I needed to gain some experience first before joining others. At first I thought this sucked because I wanted to join the online arena right away, but I guess having some battle experience was much better than questing with a bunch of noobies who’ll die more than actually help.

Now if there’s one thing that I really love about Dragon’s Crown it would have to be the artwork. Game creator and lead artist George Kamitani has created some absolutely stunning hand drawn visuals that are nothing short of breathtaking. When I would clear a room full of enemies I would just take a moment and stare at the beautiful backgrounds in 1080p. Character design is also well done, but also features the game’s biggest scrutiny around mostly female characters like the big breasted Sorceress. Kamitani has stated that he “wanted his game to stand out.” Well congratulations George because you definitely succeeded in that. I know there are people who may not like some of the female poses that look a little oversexed, but honestly it’s just art. The way I see it is that art is meant to be looked at as well as appreciated or even scrutinized. In the case of Kamitani’s depictions of the female body featured here in Dragon’s Crown (from the Sorceress’ huge breasts to other females in rather compromising positions) keep in mind that this is a fantasy game so this shouldn’t be treated as such a big deal. Then again I’m a guy, and I’m sure most females would probably disagree with my opinion.

With all the fun that was had in Dragon’s Crown from all the questing, killing, and looting I did unfortunately have one gripe. When multiple characters were on the screen (either teammates or enemies) things can get quite chaotic as I would lose focus on where I was in the battle. At times battles can get very involving (especially in multiplayer) where there is so much action taking place on the screen. I love seeing all the magic attacks and the huge bosses at the end of each level, but there was a moment or two where I was lost in the shuffle and I didn’t notice where my character was which led to a few cheap deaths as well as a misuse of health potions. Given the fact that I have unlimited lives this concern was only a minor inference, because I was just too busy having fun while collecting some epic loot.

What was once considered “under the radar”, Dragon’s Crown has jolted into the spotlight and it’s praises are well deserved. This fantasy action/role playing game is a lot of fun to play and features nearly endless replay value with multiple difficulties unlocking when completing the game. I also liked the bonus art book (sadly no hardcover) that I received for pre-ordering the game early because the art looks absolutely fantastic. For those who deem the game’s artistic depiction as “gross” or “immature” need to stop being so politically correct, and just desensitize yourself while enjoying the game for what it is.

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Developer: Atlus, Vanillaware
Platform: PlayStation 3
Players: 1-4
Price: $49.99

It’s time once again to return to Pandora. Ok, I was there just a couple of weeks ago still looting those damn Claptraps for those collectible achievements and Crawmerax yet still lives, but I digress. It’s time for some new adventures in the Borderlands. Handsome Jack is looking for some badass vault hunters like myself to do what I like to do best. Kill, loot, and then repeat. There goes my social life again. Then again my day job sort of did that a couple of months ago, but once again I’ve dipped off subject. Viva La Pandora! Viva La Borderlands 2!

2K Games and Gearbox Software once again bring me back to the wide world of looting and a shitload of guns to play with in this first person shooter and role playing hybrid. I’ve spent hundreds of hours playing the first game which became a bigger addiction to me. Let me put it this way. There’s not one drug out there with the addictive quality that can compare to the looting adventures of Borderlands. Period! Now I’ve got the highly anticipated sequel where there are still plenty of bandits and other mutant animals to kill, but this time the baddies are tougher and a heck of a lot meaner. Good thing I have even better guns and tons of ammo, but don’t expect Marcus to give out any refunds.

Storywise, Borderlands 2 improves by leaps and bounds over the original game, but let’s be serious. I didn’t pick up this game for epic storytelling. I bought it to shoot, kill, and loot as much as humanly possible. Plus there’s all the addictive fun and comedic satire where Borderlands 2 clearly doesn’t disappoint. Handsome Jack, Head of the Hyperion Corporation, has been looking for some new vault hunters to open up a new alien vault on Pandora. Hopefully this time there’s some sweet loot inside. Sadly, Jack’s attempt to lure would be vault hunters is nothing more than a trap. Luckily, my character of choice survives near death and then my adventure began.

The first thing that impressed me was the improvement of the cell-shaded graphics. They look even better than the first game. I also have to commend Gearbox for finally using a color palette for the surrounding environment. Yes, they finally stopped using different shades of brown and found other colors like green and blue. The use of color brought more life to the wasteland of Pandora making exploration a little more exciting. Characters look a little brighter and more energetic. Even all the guns have some cool looking skins making them better to own. Impressive!

I started out with Axton. Like Roland in the first game, Axton is a soldier class specializing in combat rifles along with deploying a turret as his special attack. Considering the fact that I didn’t use the soldier class as much in the first game (I used Brick the most) I was more interested to go this route and it hasn’t disappointed me at all. The turret was great in a firefight and helped make tougher enemy battles slightly easier. It’s safe to assume that anyone who joins me online will see me with him.

As for the other characters, the heavily hyped Salvatore the Gunzerker is also pretty cool with the dual wield special. He kicks some major ass when the guns are drawn leaving tons of blood and shrapnel in his wake. Now all I want is to dual wield a pair of elemental rocket launchers and he’ll make Brick arching of the past. Maya the Siren is basically an upgraded version of Lilith. Zero the Assassin (he’s a number) is not bad either with his stealth attacks and sniping abilities. Overall, the characters in Borderlands 2 are just as good as the original, but with a just a hint of more “attitude” mixed in.

The biggest improvement comes with a new skill tree system to add new abilities and increase stats. Skill points are earned by leveling up my characters through kills and completing missions. Customization is better than ever with more ways to differentiate my character from the others online. There’s even an option to reset your stats and place your hard earned skill points into other settings along with changing your looks as well. New to Borderlands is Badass Ranks. This applies to completing various challenges in the game. Complete a challenge get a token which I get to use to upgrade stats including health, shields, damage, accuracy, etc. The best part  is the fact that these ranks carry through to all my characters. Now that’s something I like.

While I can choose to venture and brave the vast lands of Pandora on my own, I realize that exploring, killing, and looting are more fun with a group of friends, Co-op is back and better than ever. Up to three friends can join me for some good fun all in the name of rare loot. Unlike the original, you don’t have to worry about that one person who gets all the good shit leaving you with all the scrap junk. No more being the low man on the totem pole. Now I can get some rare loot without one of my friends running away from the group and raping all the loot chests. Gearbox made a change making all loot shared. Some may like this and most won’t but maybe it’s time to make things fair for everyone. Overall, I absolutely enjoyed the multiplayer experience as my friends and I explored, killed, and shared plenty of laughs along the way. Co-op is the way top go for overall longevity because single player is only fun for so long.

What makes Borderlands 2 so great? An entertaining experience, fun characters, tons of jokes and other pokes at pop culture, and a whole lotta guns. What’s not to love. The best part is the fact that the game never takes itself too seriously, because if it did it would probably suck. I shit you not. There’s a lot ot see and plenty to do both on foot and unleashing your inner “Mad Max” in kick ass vehicles. Hundreds of more hours await me in Pandora with both the main game and future DLC as the search for awesome loot continues, so do me a favor. Stop reading, buy Borderlands 2, and join me online for some good times. Now where’s those rare weapons.

Developer: 2K Games, Gearbox Software
Platform: Xbox 360
Players: 1-4 (Online Co-op Multiplayer)
Price: $59.99

The release of Darksiders back in 2010 was one of my favorite games at that time. An apocalyptic adventure that combined franchises including The Legend of Zelda, God of War, and Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. All of this while starring as one of the legendary Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. War was an absolute badass in the first game as he took on the forces of Heaven and Hell on a quest to clear his name for the Apocalypse that wiped out the race of mankind. Now I get to enjoy more of the story, but this time I get to play as the Grim Reaper himself.

Darksiders 2, from THQ and Vigil Games, takes place alongside the events of the first game. This time I get to step into the role of Death who by the way looks like a combination of Casey Jones and Skeletor. The brother of War is on a mission to prove War’s innocence along with trying to restore the race of men. However, it looks like the forces of evil have other plans up their sleeves as they try to keep the remaining Horsemen out of the picture. Corruption runs deep within the roots of the Nether Realm, and Death believes that the Tree of Life has all the answers along with what could be the key to resurrecting humanity. Getting there however will be a challenge, but this Horseman is clearly up to the task.

The storyline in Darksiders 2 is enough to hook me in and not let go. It’s deep, engrossing, and made me want to see what happened next. When I had to stop playing due to work and sleep the game would start me back up where I left off last and give me a “Previously on Battlestar Galactica” moment to fill me in on the key events that took place before my last save. I like that. Of course there’s other features that made this sequel better than the original game yet stayed the course on it’s core mechanics which made the first Darksiders game successful.

The first thing about Darksiders 2 that amazed me is the sheer size of the world I traveled in. The Nether Realm is so much larger than the Apocalyptic Earth from the previous game. The realm is littered with towns, villages, and of course the treacherous dungeons all which stood between me and the Tree of Life. From the first moment I took off on my horse Despair I felt just like Link riding Epona in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. There’s so much to explore in the game which kept me busy for hours just riding around looking for secrets, killing random enemies, and collecting gold along with other loot.

Speaking of gold and loot, Darksiders 2 also improved on the action/adventure formula by adding some RPG elements. Side quests to detract from the main campaign, level ups, upgrading weapons, skill trees, gold instead of souls to collect for currency, constant loot from killed enemies that you can immediately equip, interacting with NPC characters including returning characters like Vulgrim and Samael. This game has it all and it’s awesome. As I was playing and picking up experience I became so impressed with the incredible amount of depth the game possesses. This is a huge step over what was presented in the original Darksiders which is a game that I still play even if the Portal gun moments near the end of the game drove me batshit crazy at times.

Now what do I like best about this game? Combat! With the ideal of if “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” this area is pretty much untouched from the original game. Hack and slash bloodletting with my scythes, axes, hammers, and more is awesome and fulfilling. Add in wrath attacks and the combos become sickening. Some may find this a little repetitive and boring, but I disagree. I find the God of War combo driven gameplay fun and exciting. Finishing moves are back again where with just the tap of a button will slice, dice, decapitate, and rip enemies into shreds. If not for the entertaining storyline, Darksiders 2 also substitutes as a great stress reliever when I have a tough day at work.

Darksiders 2 takes a huge leap over the original blockbuster hit and succeeds. It’s not a perfect game, but it really doesn’t need to be because it’s a lot of fun to play. The amazing storyline as well as the awesome combat and platforming elements make Darksiders 2 enjoyable and addicting enough to make me not want to put the controller down. Between both main characters I have to say that playing as Death is even more fun than playing as War. His appeal is astounding and with no Watcher to limit him makes Death a badass. With the main campaign, new game plus, the unlockable Crucible, and plenty of DLC on the way it’s safe to assume that Darksiders 2 will be around for a long time. Death lives, and it’s time for me to kick some more ass.

Developer: THQ, Vigil Games
Platform: Xbox 360
Players: 1
Price: $59.99

Ok, so I made it to the vault and destroyed the evil that inhabited it, but got nothing in return. The crazy Dr. Ned was killed again and again. Mad Moxxi’s underdome…conquered. I’ve raided General Knoxx’s secret armory yet came away empty with no Pearlescent weapons. Finally, Claptrap’s robot revolution was quickly extinguished. I’ve completed Borderlands2K Games and Gearbox‘s epic masterpiece brought back many memories of past games like Phantasy Star Online and Diablo. Honestly, I enjoyed this game more than the others. Alright, so let’s check the achievement count shall we…

74 out of 80 achievements (1585 Gamerscore)

Holy shit badass vault hunter! What did I miss?

Let’s see, I didn’t reach Level 61 yet (currently at Level 57). All missions for the General Knoxx’s DLC were not completed. Only one mission left which is kill Crawmerax The Invincible. He’s only killed me about a hundred times I think. Ok, that’s three achievements. What else do I have left? Oh yeah, collection achievements. Oil cans, bobbleheads, and pizza. At least I have plenty of pink panties and Clap-Fish making it a half party.

With only one character close to Level 61 (Brick), my mission was clear. Get all the damn achievements and please the achievement whore in me. I’m so close to perfection. I can taste it. This should be easy right? Well, not exactly.

So let me fill you in. I knew that Crawmerax was impossible so I’ll need to recruit a team for this feat. Attempts at soloing the giant crab have been rather unsuccessful since either he or his minions kill me in two hits and my weapons won’t make a dent in him. Even the glitch spot wasn’t working for me. Part of it may require me to get some better weapons, but the weapons on Playthrough 2 have sucked so far.

As for the collection shit…well these drops are taking forever. I tried the MINAC farming technique which didn’t do so well, and most Claptraps that I farm on Hyperion Dumps on Playthrough 2 are dropping shit I already have. I even try other areas and come up with a bunch of gears and motherboards along with the occasional oil can. WTF! All I want is some bubbleheads and pizza! Hook a fellow vault hunter up!

With Borderlands 2 quickly approaching on September 18, my goal is to finish with all achievements before then. Of course with my day job situation probably coming to fruition by as early as next week, This means that I don’t have much time to recruit a team for Crawmerax. Anyone interested in joining this vault hunter for some fun times in Pandora hit me up. My gamertag is HighOctane Buzz.

UPDATE: As of this writing, I did get one of the collection achievements. The Lubricator which had me collecting 25 oil cans. Well that’s a start. Now if the other drops can show up more often. Get over here Claptraps!

GAME STATUS: Quest Completed
ACHIEVEMENTS EARNED: 45 out of 61 (875 Gamerscore)

For my original review of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Click HERE.

The realm is safe once again. Tirnoch has been destroyed (quite easily I might add), Dead Kel is no longer a threat, and the Kollossae are free. The people can rest easy once again. Well not too easy considering the fact that there are plenty of baddies still in the woods, and there’s that part where I’m not in the good graces of the Warsworn. So I killed all the heads of the guild. You would think they would’ve forgiven me by now. Besides, the townspeople all forgiven me after constant looting, pickpocketing, and the occasional mass murder. Just another day in Amalur.

Resurrected from the depths of the dead sure worked out for me in this game. Throughout my adventure I felt like a death dealer as I destroyed everything in my path sort of like Kratos from God of War or even Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden. No enemy was safe from my hack and slash combo attacks along with some badass magic to boot. This was my favorite part of playing the game. No matter how tough an enemy was (couldn’t find one four levels higher than me to get that achievement) they still met the end of my blade or the blunt of my hammer making for some satisfying moments.

While I really enjoyed kicking ass on the screen, I did have a few problems. One has to do with all the bland dialog. Maybe I’m not too big on the whole fantasy angle, but the storyline at times really had me bored which led to me falling asleep for short periods only to wake up hoping that the dialog ended and the combat begun. Amalur is a loooong game, and when sleepiness started setting in between all the constant grinding that led to a big negative in the overall picture. Good thing I could press the “X” button to skip through the boredom faster.

I also had a problem with the game’s literally easy difficulty. I never met an RPG that was so light on the difficulty, and no I wasn’t playing on “easy” if your thinking that. Sure disposing a group of six to seven enemies at one time led to frustrating moments of being hit in all directions before using my “Reckoning” ability making everything super simple along with lots of XP. Even the bosses like the super-screen sized slug Balor met his end pretty quickly with no challenge whatsoever. That was really disappointing when all you have to do is hack the long nails when he sticks them into the ground. Even the final boss Tirnoch was no challenge. Sad.

AMALUR’S FINAL FATE

While my character had no fate, this game certainly did. After spending what felt like a few hundred hours traveling, discovering, committing crimes in front of a small audience, and easily dispatching foes in the heat of battle I felt that my time was done. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is fun, but I can’t see myself going through another quest. I might end up sleeping all day. My copy of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning will now lie on the used game shelf for someone else to play. The ending was left open for further expansion, but due to the layoffs of 38 Studios and Big Huge Games (now a part of Epic Baltimore) we may never get to see a sequel.

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Big Huge Games, 38 Studios
Players: 1
Price: $59.99

Pros:
Fantastic presentation
Excellent combat system
So much to do and explore

Cons:
Storyline is a little bland
Voice acting is pretty bad at times
Not really an open world

Now before I get deep into this review let me just state that I’m not a big role-playing junkie. I don’t gather around a bunch of nerds who have no life and play Magic: The Gathering or even Dungeons and Dragons. However, I’ve been known to partake in some good addictive experiences like Final Fantasy, Phantasy Star, The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. Skyrim has been my big RPG as of late, and I’m still trying to finish Fallout: New Vegas. Now it looks like I have another addiction to add to the growing collection, and it’s name is Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.

So here’s the story…abridged of course so that I keep it as spoiler free as possible. You’re dead! No really…you died. The game starts with your death as your carried off by a pair of gnomes discussing exactly who and what you are. This is where you begin character customization with race, basic looks, and your name. Then your body is dumped into the Well of Souls where all of a sudden you are miraculously brought back to life, fight your way out for the well filled with corpses, and begin your quest. What exactly is your quest? Well that is all up to you because you’ll begin to find out that you have no fate. Your fate is all up to you. Know thyself. It’s what you choose to do that determines your ultimate destiny. I really like that about a game.

For your typical Western RPG, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning features a fantastic presentation of role-playing goodness. However, I will tell you that the storyline is quite bland. After he opening moments and my eventual rebirth I found it hard to concentrate on the story because I was really focusing on the gameplay (which I’ll talk about later). Rest assured that most casual RPG players aren’t really going to care. The story is mostly told in text format as you talk to various NPC characters, and your given a bevy of responses to choose from which can determine whether your character is a do-gooder, or in fact an evil badass. Remember, you have ultimate fate. You can choose your own damn destiny.

Speaking of the NPC characters, some of the voice acting actually sounds pretty good. The other characters however sound terrible which will have you quickly pressing the skip button. Although, I do have go admit that one character in the opening village that was supposedly ill actually had me contemplating what was wrong. During an NPC conversation, I couldn’t tell of she was dying or about to have an orgasm right in front if me. I definitely had a good laugh on that one.

Now just like any RPG, your first thought other than combat has to do with exploration. Getting to know the lay of the land opens up what the genre does best. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning features some amazing looking scenery along with the various castles and villages filled with tons of  vibrant colors bringing the world to life. I love to explore to find new places as well as a few secrets sprinkled around the world. The world in Amalur is huge which might take you a long time to get around. The world map also allows for quick travel to previous locations you visited. While the world map is huge, the bad news is that it’s not as open like any of the Elder Scrolls and Fallout games. Rest assured this is not a deal breaker whatsoever, because the scenery is well done even if there is not much land to tread through.

Ok, so I might have sounded a little negative with a couple of things, but these small nitpickings pale on comparison to how great this game really is. So what makes it great. It’s the gameplay. Anyone who loves third person action games like God of War, Darksiders, and Devil May Cry will fall in love with Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. The fast paced, hack and slash, combo driven, real-time combat featuring plenty of swords, daggers, magic staffs, bow and arrows and more makes killing enemies and earning valuable XP is a lot of fun. By the way the finishing moves are also a sight to see. Magic also plays a role as you use fire, ice, lightning and more to destroy enemies. By the way magic works great when you mix it in combos. The combat system is great and found myself addicted into wanting to kill everything in sight. Sometimes I got so addicted that I would forget to heal myself if my health got too low and I ended up dying. The combat is that good.

With all the killing and questing that your completing, the XP will come in bunches. As you level up the customization of your character rises to new heights. Now if your familiar with games like a Borderlands and Dead Island, you will find the level up menu system easy to navigate and work as you spend points to use for upgrades. These class specific upgrades include extra damage with specific weapons, defense, and magic abilities. The usual RPG stuff. As I’ve leveled up I could really tell the difference my attacks were making along with the damage I took. Not many games can display that as well as Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning can.

Throughout the course of my adventures with Kingdoms of Amalur I found myself immersed in it’s unique world of adventure and fantasy. It was so hard to put down the controller, because I kept telling myself that I wanted to finish one more quest, gain one more level, or just make if to the next town just to say that I was there. From small basic enemies, to boss-like juggernauts, to making potions and forging weapons, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning will hold you in it’s grip for long gameplay sessions making questing fun and entertaining (even if the storyline qualifies as “meh”) for all no matter how much of a fan of RPGs you are.

Let’s face it Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is clearly no Skyrim, but it’s solid gameplay and role-playing mechanics make it a worthy game that everyone should play. In my honest opinion, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is better than all three Fable games combined. After the first weekend I played the game I was hooked, and it’s hard to take me out of it’s fantasy world even if I want to go slay dragons and explore the open world of Skyrim. Role-Playing junkies should definitely give Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning a run because your clearly going to like it.

Pros:
Co-op play is a lot of fun
Tons of replay value
Beautiful graphics

Cons:
Indoor environments look bland
Some players may hate lack of guns

Get ready for the time of your life on the island of Banoi. For all you vacation seekers out there Banoi offers plenty of entertainment here in paradise. Here you’ll find lush landscapes, the most beautiful men and women in the world, first class VIP parties, and plenty of blood-thirsty zombies waiting to tear apart your rotting corpse. Welcome to Dead Island. Enjoy your stay!

Dead Island, from Deep Silver and Techland, is clearly no Left 4 Dead or Dead Rising (both great games). It’s still a zombie slayer except the gameplay mechanics is more RPG than action/adventure. In a small way, Dead Island’s gameplay reminds me of games like Fallout 3 in terms of role-playing and Condemned: Criminal Origins with its melee combat system. These are some great concepts that seperate Dead Island from all the other zombie slayers that clog up the market and they work extremely well making for a fun experience filled with plenty of bloody fun and at times sheer terror.

The game begins with you awakening from what had to have been the greatest party in the history of parties. Getting past the terrible hangover from all the whiskey you had the night before, you wake up to realize that things have changed. Something has gone terrible wrong because the residents have become flesh eating zombies. Did you party too hard? Is it just a dream? Unfortunately, after your first experience with the undead, you come to a quick sobering reality that this is for real.

Dead Island places you in the role of four unique characters each with their own specialties. There’s Logan, the NFL star who’s considered a “Jack of all trades.” Sam B, a rap star who loves to use his fists. Xian Mei, a hotel employee that specializes in sharp weapons, Purna, a Sydney Police Officer who for a short time can use firearms. Each of their specialties are activated by a rage meter that are found on each character’s skill tree. Speaking of the skill tree, the more I look at it, the more it reminds me of the game Borderlands where as you level up you can choose new abilities for your character to work with. It seems as if Deep Silver and Techland has taken what has worked best in previous games and incorportated them here in Dead Island.

With the goal of getting off the island of the dead as your main concern, Dead Island breaks down into a series of quests for you to complete to gain XP. Most of the missions are of the go and fetch variety which is no surprise to most RPG veterans. Of course you can also explore the island at your leisure adding to the experience because there is a lot to see. The island itself has plenty of breathtaking views to see. The outdoor environments are amazing and well crafted which could sidetrack you when the undead are making a B-line towards you. The only thing you would wish is that the indoor parts were just as good as the outdoors, because in closed doors the scenery is rather bland.

So now let’s get to what everyone wants to know about…the combat mechanics. If your looking for a game filled with lots of guns allowing you rain lead on helpless zombies then your going to be disappointed. Now don’t get me wrong, there are guns in the game, but there extremely limited in use so don’t dream of any Rambo fantasies. Melee combat is ther name of the game and it’s well done. Weapons range from paddle oars, axes, just about anything you can pick up can be used as a weapon. You can even throw your weapons for some added damage as well as get a few oohs and aahs from the crowd. As an added bonus, there are items you can pick up that you can use to customize your melee weapons even further. For example, you can add components to electrify your weapons making zombie carnage more fun. while this all sounds cool, keep in mind that weapons can break down over time and break. Make sure you have a weapon in the hole or else your dead meat.

What makes Dead Island great is the ability to play the game with friends which is truly the game’s main selling point. Dead Island features drop in/drop out co-op gaming as players can join in at any time according to the default settings. Playing the game with online buds is awesome and brings back some of those fun Left 4 Dead moments as you slay zombies, complete misions, and gain valuable XP. Of course complete strangers can join your game as well. Some players may not like the idea of another player jumping into their game and find out that they’re not there to help them, but to help themselves. For those who may not want strangers in their game make sure you select solo play on the options menu. Just keep in mind that playing in co-op makes Dead Island even better than it already is.

For me zombie slaying never gets old. Now I get to do it on a beautiful island and place my bloody paddle oar right into a bikini-clad female’s face…priceless. Let me tell you that Dead Island can get addictive the more you get into the game. Add a few friends and you have the best zombie slaying game since Valve’s spectacular zombie slayer Left 4 Dead. Buy this game today.