The Good: Eerie atmosphere, downright creepy zombies, lots of variety in everything, good length, weapons mods are a blast, co-op provides lots of fun, analog combat is engaging
The Bad: Difficulty is all over the place, lots of glitches, characters are uninteresting, controls are a bit finicky
There's seems to be no end in sight to zombie games, but the good ones are far and few between. With Left 4 Dead and Dead Rising being the staples, Dead Island puts itself on the map as the true zombie simulator. It holds true to that statement with realistic combat, atmosphere, and a terrifying story (albeit it doesn't get really interesting until towards the end). You can pick one of four characters who each specialize in a certain weapon (sharp objects, blunt, throwing objects, and guns). You follow the four heroes through the story of the resort island Banoi that has been struck with some sort of biological weapon or disease. No one really knows. You must help the survivors get off the island, but things don't go according to plan.
I would like to say that Dead Island feels like Fallout meets Left 4 Dead with a little bit of Dead Rising thrown in. The combat is superb if a tad unwieldy because it features an analog type combat system. The game is in first person so the last melee game in first person you probably played was Oblivion. You can move the weapon around via the right analog stick and pulling back and pushing forward brings out a full swing. It feels awesome because each weapon feels different and the game has a great dismemberment engine so when you aim for that part it will most likely come off. Even the shooting in the game is solid and that's a one-two punch that most games can't get right.
There are RPG elements thrown in so when you complete missions or kill zombies you're earning experience. You get one point per level to use in one of three categories: Fury, Combat, and Health. Fury is a mode that you can activate to do ultra damage to enemies and earn 10x the amount of experience when doing so. There are a lot of way to upgrade and you won't get them all in one play through. Thankfully the game levels up with you so you won't run into areas that require level grinding to get past. A lot of the quests are mixed from escort missions, fetch quests, and zombie killing quests. There are undead people to kill as well, but most of them have guns so watch out.
The atmosphere of the game is amazing and just really creepy. There are zombies everyone all shapes and sizes. The two most common are Walkers and Infected. Infected can not be avoided since they run at you faster than you can even run. There are Floaters, Thugs (these guys are almost impossible to take down when you first start), Suiciders (they explode), and the rare Butchers. Each zombie is freaking creepy and there is a huge variety of them since they change with each area you change from. The game is non-linear with huge open areas to explore at your leisure. Like Fallout you can collect stuff from pretty much anything and use it to make mods which there are dozens of. Some of these are awesome like attaching a saw blade to a bat, turning swords into shock weapons, making guns shoot fiery bullets etc. These are mostly found from completing missions so try to get all the side missions you can.
You can drive in the game which feels just fine and is a blast to run over zombies, this is required in some missions and is best to travel long distances across the island. Also the areas vary from the beach, jungle, the city of Moresby, and the prison. There a huge variety in everything from weapons, zombies, and environments so you never really get bored with the game. While that's the core of the game you just always want to wander off and find people in distress (hey you are immune to zombie bites!) and just try every weapon out there as well as upgrade them at the work benches. Of course weapons break and need to be repaired which costs money and you can sell stuff, trade, and even pick money up out in the zombie wilderness.
The game is also very hard most of the time since this game was designed for four player co-op. There is drop in-out co-op online which is a blast and there's plenty of people playing. A lot of the times missions are just so hard because you get too many zombies thrown at you for just one person. If you die you just wait 7 seconds and respawn, but you lose a lot of money as a penalty. The more money you have the more you will lose. This is a great idea, but healing is a problem since medkits are rare and food only heals you so much and you can't store it.
The only problems with the game is that people with high-end PCs are jipped unless they go edit the config file themselves to push the graphics further. There are a lot of glitches, and the combat is awesome, but controlling it is a bit off and finicky. I mentioned that the difficulty is all over the place so expect some frustrating sections where you will die over a dozen times. While the story is good the characters are boring and not likeable and just feel pretty generic overall so this took a big hit for me more than anything. Overall Dead Island is my favorite zombie game so far and fans shouldn't miss it.