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The parents' guide to what's in this game.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dead Island Definitive Collection is a first-person shooter and melee combat game that pits players against an island full of zombies. Fighting is frenetic, intense, and often gory. Characters literally use whatever they can get their hands on -- pipes, paddles, diving knives, and more -- to fend off undead aggressors that come so close they virtually fill the screen. Even long-range gun combat can result in lots of blood and severed body parts. The playable characters are a motley crew with shady pasts, but they seem to be genuinely interested in helping most of the other survivors they come across. It's a resort island, so players will see lots of women (and zombie women) in skimpy bikinis. Some characters curse profusely, and the heroes can drink alcohol and get drunk, causing the player's window into the world to blur.
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What's it about?
DEAD ISLAND DEFINITIVE COLLECTION puts a pair of older but popular zombie games -- Dead Island and its sequel Dead Island Riptide -- into a single bundle. Both games take place on isolated islands that have been overrun with zombies. Players choose from a quartet of heroes, all with dark or at least shadowy pasts, who are immune to the outbreak. Using anything they can find as a weapon -- including wooden boards, hammers, shovels, and countless other items (often combining them with other items to craft even more powerful weapons) -- their primary objective is simply to survive and escape. They also find and help other survivors along the way and work to accomplish plenty of side objectives. Both games have been visually enhanced for the Definitive Collection release and include bonuses such as a One-Punch mode that lets players pound zombies with superpowered fists and a bonus game called Dead Island Retro Revenge, a side-scrolling brawler designed to emulate the look and feel of games released a quarter century ago, though with significantly increased blood and gore effects.
Is it any good?
This collection is for two kinds of players: those who didn't play the original games but always meant to, and those who loved them so much they've been itching to play through them all over again. Everyone else -- including people who played but didn't absolutely adore these games in their previous-generation incarnations -- can safely pass it by.
To be sure, both have been polished up nicely for current-generation consoles, sporting noticeably improved character models and better surface textures that place them nearly on par with many contemporary games. But enhanced graphics alone don't make a game worth buying a second time. And while the one-punch mode is novel for a while, it won't be enough of a gimmick to keep most players entertained for the 50-plus hours it takes to finish both games. The only really fresh aspect of the experience is Dead Island Retro Revenge, a completely separate game that mixes old-school brawling with a more modern lane-based endless-runner design. It has dozens of levels of increasing difficulty and requires a surprising amount of strategy. Still, you'll need to have a soft spot for early '90s arcade games to appreciate and be wooed by what it's trying to accomplish. Deep Silver clearly put some work into Dead Island Definitive Collection, but it's better considered a love letter to the series' truest fans than a reason for average gamers to revisit this gory extravaganza.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Have you ever physically flinched from an attack while playing a violent game? What might that say about your level of immersion and the impact of the violence?
Talk about strong language in games. Sometimes writers use profanity to create more authentic dialogue, and other times it's used for shock value, but have you ever played a game where the language felt too harsh or frequent for the scenes in which it was spoken?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $39.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Deep Silver
- Release date: May 31, 2016
- Genre: First-Person Shooter
- Topics: Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs and Alcohol
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.