Dead Island 2 has been in development hell for nearly a decade, so it’s fair to say hopes for the game were mixed. It’s a rare title that makes it through hell unscathed – and yet, despite all odds, many of this game’s newly-launched reviews suggest it’s a worthy success. While some critics have lamented Dead Island 2‘s lack of depth, many share a positive outlook, with particular praise heaped on its zombie-killing mechanics, and its depiction of post-apocalyptic Los Angeles.
Sometimes, all a game needs to be is fun – and it seems Dead Island 2 understands that completely. Here’s what the critics had to say about the game.
GamesHub – 4/5
GamesHub‘s own managing editor Edmond Tran was overall positive about the Dead Island 2 experience, calling it a ‘a satisfying, perpetual cycle of gory combat, set in sunny surroundings that are just inviting enough to keep you going.’
Read: Dead Island 2 Review – Bad Day L.A.
‘Like a music video, [the game’s] extraneous colour and flavour doesn’t really need to make complete sense. Both are an attractive but ultimately cursory facade for the flesh and blood of the game – the constant, thumping blur of feverish hacking and bashing, of gore and viscera, that all swirls together in a cocktail of extreme queasiness. Dead Island 2 is fulfilling in that respect.’
Press Start Australia – 6.5/10
Writing for Press Start Australia, writer James Berich was slightly less positive about the game’s central ideas – but did praise its fleshy combat, and its idyllic Californian setting:
‘From the sweeping hillside neighbourhoods of Bel-Air to the sunny sands of Venice Beach, Dead Island 2 successfully captures a sense of paradise, like Banoi in Dead Island before it, just a different type of paradise … Despite its shortcomings, I still had fun with the game. It should grow old quickly on paper, but even playing by myself, I never tired of destroying countless hordes of zombies in exciting and varied ways.’
Video Games Chronicle (VGC) – 4/5
The blandness of the game’s campaign wasn’t enough to dampen the experience for Jordan Middler, writing for Video Games Chronicle. He described the game as ‘unabashed zombie schlock’ with a strong sense of identity:
‘Dead Island 2 is an extremely silly, comically violent, and consistently enjoyable experience. It’s almost impossible to stop smiling while playing, such are the slapstick laughs of limbs flying off in every direction. The smart skill system and a wide range of weapons mean that throughout the game’s brisk 15-hour main campaign offering, you’re never bored of liberating heads from the shoulders of the undead around Hollywood.’
GameSpot – 7/10
Writing for GameSpot, Mark Delaney praised the game’s combat primarily – although his assessment of its gunplay was less enthusiastic. Overall, Delaney enjoyed the experience, but believes the game has many overt shortcomings:
‘For a game in development for more than a decade, it’s a minor miracle for Dead Island 2 to come out at all. The fact that it’s arrived in such a state that players can have fun with it for the duration of its story and beyond – even as that story itself is an afterthought – is a testament to the team that got it to a once-unlikely finish line. Along with the lacklustre story, poor gunplay and some balancing issues hurt Dead Island 2, but its deep melee combat systems and rich setting make it a better game than the original, which is maybe the most important thing I can say about it after everything it’s been through.’
PC Gamer – 55/100
A less enthusiastic review for the game was penned by Lewis Parker, for PC Gamer. He described the experience as ‘a crash corpse in designed a game with no backbone’ and criticised the game’s lack of originality and surprises:
‘Apart from the admittedly impressive technical performance, it’s hard to find much reason to recommend Dead Island 2. Although the combat feels responsive and intuitive, it sadly does little to compensate for the game’s numerous shortfalls – especially when said gameplay barely evolves throughout the game’s twenty hour campaign.’
Dead Island 2 certainly seems like an adventure for those of particular tastes, but its overall lack of depth – which was spotlighted in nearly every published review – is likely to turn story enthusiasts away. As an acquired taste, it may require hands-on experience to truly understand.
Dead Island 2 launches for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows PC on 21 April 2023.
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