Zombies. If there’s one way to entice me to try/watch/give up some of my time, it’s for zombies. So, when PlayStation announced the ‘Dead Island’ “Total Game Integration” thing, I was in.
I’ve never been a big fan of PlayStation Home. Perhaps it’s the virtual introvert in me, but I’ve always been a bit shy or creeped out by it. I’m fairly extroverted in real life, and pals of mine often find this personality trait intriguing. Heck, I was nervous about the trash-talking 14-year-olds in ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Halo’ when I first logged in to play those online too. Thankfully, the ability to only talk to specific party members solved that issue for me. Regardless, PlayStation Home doesn’t fill any of my gaming needs whatsoever. Maybe if it had more of a hook, I’d give it more chances. So what do you do when you’re in a virtual room full of strangers and a zombie walks up to you? You get hooked and bash its brains in, of course!
For those of you who have not been brave (or bothered) enough to venture into PlayStation Home, here’s a quick summary: You start off by creating an avatar, complete with hair, noses, shoes and an earring. Then you can leave your apartment and head on down to the Central Plaza. There you will find other avatars meandering around with text bubbles over their heads and a chat transcript towards the bottom left of your screen. You can go up and talk to other avatars or interact with whatever theme might be going on in the plaza. (In this case, it has been redone with a tropical island theme to coincide with the ‘Dead Island’ vacationland locale.) Off of the Central Plaza are places like a bowling alley and shopping mall. There, that’s PlayStation Home in a nutshell.
“Total Game Integration” is basically just a revamp of Central Plaza to go along with whatever new game is being promoted. Not too long ago, the plaza was invaded by the Helghast to promote ‘Killzone 3’. The main attractions in this particular Total Game Integration are the mini-games. The biggest is a “Survive the Waves of Zombies” type of game. The undead shamble up to you, and you club them with whatever you’ve found lying around the plaza. If you do well, there’s an actual in-game goodie for the retail version of ‘Dead Island’ that you can earn by completing all of the challenges. The mini-games (many of them are described here in the official PlayStation blog) themselves are ok, but not compelling enough that I want to go back and try them again and again, much less complete ten challenges (some of them actually challenging) in order to unlock the code for the goodie.
I’m all for new and interesting ways to advertise or build buzz for an upcoming game. Techland and PlayStation have done an interesting job with this most recent Total Game Integration. But – and this is a big “but” – I feel that having experienced this “integration” that I’m left even more nervous about the game than before.
Let me explain: The first time I (and probably most of the gaming world) heard about ‘Dead Island’ was when that pretty darn kick-ass, non-gameplay trailer was released. Sweet. I do love me some zombies. Then came a lot of buzz and reports that it was going to be unlike any other zombie game ever made. Sweet. I do love me some innovative zombie games. Then came the news that it was an open world, and it appeared that you would be using mostly melee weapons. SCREEEECH… Say what? Come again? You want me to swing and punch my way through a giant open zombie world for how many hours? I think I’ll pass.
Next came a few more reports and perhaps even a gameplay video or two, possibly in response to the negative melee weapon reaction. They all screamed: “Wait! We’ve got shotguns and machine guns and pistols too!” Hmmmm, ok, now I’m just optimistically cautious. Perhaps I’ll wait for a rental or a review from that pal of mine who buys EVERY game. Now in this “Total Game Integration,” the weapons in the Central Plaza are all (but one) melee based. And they break after three kills. When I finally got a shotgun, it only had three shells.
This is making me very nervous about this game. Of course, I’m a huge ‘Left 4 Dead’ fan, and now that I know the joys of running through a zombie-infested sewer with an M-80, I can’t go back to cricket bats and lengths of pipe.
So did this “Total Game Integration” help to raise awareness of this upcoming release? Yes. Did it make me want to buy the game? No. I’m going to need a glowing review across the board or a damn fine demo to make me do more than rent it.
Please, please, pretty please, with a severed head on top, Techland, make a great ‘Red Dead Redemption’ meets ‘L4D’ meets the best parts of ‘Resident Evil’.
This I can confirm, Wayne is an extremely outgoing dude. Those freaking creepy foul mouthed fourteen year olds must be absolutely terrifying to cause Wayne to be gun shy.