Dead Island 2 might be the goriest game we've ever played
12 years after the original, the sequel finally arrives this week.
Dead Island 2 has been a looooooooong time coming. A sequel to the 2011 original, with first gameplay footage revealed way back in 2014, fans of the good-but-by-absolutely-no-means-great open world zombie horror have been left wondering if their interest in this franchise might also need to be brought back from the dead. So... was it worth the wait? Sort of.
There is nothing really here that you wouldn't have seen done in other - and, importantly, better - games over the last few years, with the first-person, melee-heavy combat massively upgraded in most ways, even if the entire concept of weapon degradation is nothing but a party-pooper when you're mid-rampage.
Same goes for the story within the game, thanks to a not-particularly-inspired script, and a setting that does feel both dense and expansive, even if the title of the game literally doesn't make sense any longer, as we've swapped locations from the fictional paradise island of Banoi to the famously-not-an-island city of Los Angeles.
It also leans into comedy much more, which might feel at odds with the post-apocalyptic, intensely violent setting that surrounds that comedic vibe, as the gore-splattered interiors of a creepy Beverly Hills mansion might make you want to go into a full The Last Of Us sneak mode, instead of the balls-to-the-wall, always-moving action that the game expects you to take.
And by golly, will you notice the gore. The world itself is power-hosed with the innards and remains of the population who didn't survive the initial zombie onslaught, and once you start dismembering the undead yourself, Dead Island 2's unique "flesh" system allows you to cause all kinds of grievous bodily harm to your targets. It just depends if you're clonking them with a sledgehammer, slicing them with an electrified machete, or ripping them apart with Wolverine-esque metal claws; whatever your weapon of choice, the developers have perfected the way the zombie bodies react to those attacks.
The game kicks off with a plane crash sequence, from which you choose one of six zombie-virus resistant characters to play through the 30-ish hour campaign, each with their own strengths, weaknesses and special abilities. As you progress, you'll unlock more skill abilities, which you can then swap out or upgrade to suit your particular play style. It is quite generic, but a very well finessed version nonetheless.
There is also online co-op, allowing you to plough into the missions with two other players (although this won't be available at launch for some PS4 and Xbox One players), which certainly helps to up the entertainment factor somewhat. In fact, that is where this game's biggest recommendation lies. Never breaking new ground or even threatening with the possibility of innovation, if you are looking for decent if sometimes a little janky entertainment, you could do a lot worse.
Dead Island 2 will be available on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One and PC from Friday, 21 April.
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