Dead Island – Definitive Collection review (Xbox One)

Dead Island is back! Sadly, it’s not the full blown sequel Dead Island that we’ve seen at a few gameshows before its developer got dismissed, but it’s a re-release of the original games in a remastered edition, now available for Xbox One, PS4 and PCs. We looked at the Xbox One version.

Included in this compilation are the original Dead Island, and its ‘sort of sequel’ Dead Island Riptide – both of which have been remastered for the sake of this compilation. In addition, there’s also a brand new game called Dead Island Retro Revenge – which is a 16-bit arcade-like title that shows what the game might have been like had it been made back in 1990.

In terms of improvements, aside from a few bug fixes here and there that were available as patches for the original games, the main draw here is a visual one. With a lot more horsepower available, especially on the console versions, several enhancements to the engine have been made. Now using Techland’s latest game engine, you’ll see improvements that include better shading and lighting, but the inclusion of higher quality textures (along with higher resolutions) really made the biggest difference here when you look at both versions side by side.

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Of course, four years have passed since the original release of Dead Island, and the gaming world has evolved. Just over a year ago we saw the release of Dying Light, and since then we’ve seen an addon for that game in The Following as well. Technically, Dying Light is still a superior zombie game – despite the enhancements that Dead Island received. It’s not fair to compare the two in terms of gameplay though, since they take a vastly different approach to the genre. Where Dying Light is all about fear and horror, Dead Island is an in-your-face kind of zombie fest, where you maim down hordes of the undead in a tropical paradise. It’s an experience that’s meant to be fun rather than scary, and mostly in a campy B-movie kind of way.

This formula still holds up four years later, and Dead Island is a bit of a modern semi-classic in that regard. The ‘sequel’, Riptide, still feels like it was hastily put together – and would have fared better as an addon to the original game rather than a full game. If you’re looking for something different to play then Dead Island Retro Revenge is definitely worth checking out, as an homage to both the original Dead Island and to the side scrolling slasher/brawlers from the golden days of the arcade. The developer’s page mentions that Retro Revenge has “plenty of depth”, but you can quickly forget about that since – like a lot of classic arcade games before it – Retro Revenge is all about a little short lived mindless fun. Consider it a nice bit of fan service.

We’ve seen our fair share of remasters and compilations on the current generation of consoles, and the question is always whether or not to pick them up. A lot of that depends on if you already own the previous games, because if you do then Retro Revenge and a graphics upgrade probably aren’t worth the price of admission. If you don’t, then this Dead Island collection is definitely worth grabbing since it’s being released at a friendly price point and the game’s formula (a mix of Far Cry, Crysis, Dying Light and Dead Rising) is still fun to play. This is in no small part due to the fact that the developer has taken a B-movie approach to the whole thing, and not taking a game too seriously is always a pleasant aspect in terms of how well a game ages.

Score: 7.1/10

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