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Whenever a new zombie game is announced, the gaming audience tends to split into to categories; one fiendishly excited about the prospect of beating the undead and the other who couldn’t give a damn, growing increasingly tired of the idea. Along comes Dead Island on Wednesday to vomit zombie chunks on that idea, causing Twitter and media outlets to almost explode with glee. Details were sparse on what Dead Island will finally become but developer Techland say it will have a dark story inspired by classic zombie movies and a campaign that allows up to four players to fight their way through hordes of mindless civilians. While that does sound like my average trip to the supermarket, the tropical island setting differentiates the experience. A survival aspect is introduced by limiting ammo and weaponry but Techland state that an intense melee combat system will be in place to help with the re-killing. Add to that RPG elements and you start to have a game that, for all intense purposes, could well be just another zombie game headed for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC later this year.
So why all the hype? Because of the trailer, quite possibly the best piece of cinematics to happen in a long time. And it’s for a video game. The few details above gave an idea as to what to expect in terms of gameplay and the trailer hopefully shows what we’ll be getting regarding the story and atmosphere. It’s incredibly emotional and a poignant take on the horror genre. A family not only fights for their lives and their loved ones but loses with dignity. But it is tough to get through and the three minutes of a haunting score over the struggle of the outnumbered definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of radioactive tea. The end will cut you like a knife and if it doesn’t, you’re probably a zombie yourself. I personally tend not to play many zombie games because the great ones tend to set me on edge when playing and the rest do little to entertain me after years of fatigue. Dead Island however has been set up to be different, offering something new and promising a whole lot by releasing such a great trailer. The screen isn’t filled with head shots or copious amounts of blood like others of this ilk, just a real sense of fear and the potential for greater things ahead. Can Techland live up to the challenge and to all the hype? I do hope so as it could push the genre into uncharted territories, giving new life to dead ideas.