E3 2011's Most Anticipated: Dead Island

CVG E3 2011 Awards: Vote for the games that most excite you!

The games on show at E3 2011 are some of the best in living memory. So you really owe it to yourself to vote in CVG's inaugural E3 2011 Awards... in the Most Anticipated Title category.


Shortly before the show, we'll work out which of these 60 special E3 game previews have enjoyed the most page views, Facebook 'Likes', ReTweets and poll votes (see below) and crown our first victor of the Los Angeles event there and then. Show your favourites the love!

Game: Dead Island
Publisher: Deep Silver
Likelihood of E3 2011 showing: Certain

Having at last seen it running, Dead Island is neither the most emotional, time-defying slice of genius since Donnie Darko - as that incredible trailer wants you to think - or just another rampaging zombie shooter.

Instead it's a melee-obsessed action RPG, a place where the tramp-mangling action of Condemned meets the roleplay sensibilities of Borderlands. With its crumbling weapons, levelled enemies and Fallout-style workbenches, Dead Island is a far more hardcore proposition than you might have imagined. Which is odd.

This game began its public life as an unregarded me-too zombie game from the makers of Call of Juarez - itself best known as the Western that's not as good as Red Dead Redemption - only to become the talk of the 'net with a stunning, melancholy trailer.

The inevitable backlash soon repositioned it as a simple Left 4 Dead rip-off unworthy of attention, before this early showing spun it somewhere else again.

We're quite excited now. Dead Island throws monsters into paradise - a juxtaposition that worked brilliantly in Crytek's 2004 PC debut, Far Cry. Plus, this island is free-roaming, spattered with vehicles - both cars and bikes - and, intriguingly, extremely light on guns. Banoi Island is, after all, a tourist destination. Just exploring it is a tense and unusually involving affair.

The game begins as you wake to a nightmare. Last night the Royal Palms Resort was a paradise, but this morning failed rapper Sam B - you - finds zombies in designer swimwear munching holidaymakers beneath the parasols and behind pool-side bars.

Sam, the beefy tank character in Dead Island's co-op foursome, soon finds himself connecting canoe paddles with deadhead brain-stems, snicker-snacking limbs with long knives and tossing adjustable spanners into faces. But it's not just blood showering the sun-loungers: there's experience points (XP) in the mix too.

At first you're neither strong nor good at fighting, so keep swinging and fatigue quickly renders you breathless and defenceless. Your stamina and prowess increases with XP earned, while working
on weapons at benches - Techland compares this to World of Warcraft's crafting rather than Dead Rising 2's cruder concoctions - renders them more and more deadly.

Machetes can be sharpened then electrified, for instance, or diving knives strapped to explosives to make sticky bombs. Similar to Fallout's equipment, items need regular repair, too, or they eventually fail. As weapons get more vicious, they become increasingly good at showing off the dismemberment. Dead Island is not lacking in gore.

It is a little lacking in humans though, as Sam is one of just four (playable) characters somehow immune to the outbreak. Real life friends can drop in and out online (there's no split screen co-op) and if you all want to play as the same guy or girl, you can.

Besides Sam B there's Xian Lee - the slim, attractive receptionist from the Royal Palms Resort hotel - Mohicaned surfer Logan and the mysterious, muscular female bodyguard Puma. You won't just be fighting regular undead, of course. There are super-zombies too, such as the vomit-spraying Drowner, the pus-filled and exploding Suicider, the straight-jacketed Ram - yes, he likes to charge at you - and the Butcher.

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