What's more relentless than zombies? Video games about zombies. They've been good (Resident Evil) and bad (Rock of the Dead). There are serious games like Left 4 Dead and comical games like Plants vs. Zombies. And they never stop coming.
At some point, though, exhaustion has to set in. But much to our surprise, Dead Island brings some fresh ideas to the genre: The game is more intriguing than the typical slash-and-run gorefest.
The drama takes place on a fictional island, Banoi. Your character wakes up after a night of carousing to discover most of the people there are afflicted with something much worse than a hangover. After fleeing your hotel and meeting some fellow survivors, you have two goals: rescue other noninfected humans, find a way off Banoi.
The missions generally boil down to finding and retrieving someone or something, but the settings and monsters you meet are varied. You have to scrounge up whatever weapons you can; initially, all you have are broomsticks or kitchen knives. Early on, Dead Island lets you modify your gear, so you can add nails to a baseball bat or build an electric charge into a machete. Guns do become available eventually, but ammunition is scarce, so you have to use them sparingly.
RATING M for Mature
PLOT Tropical vacation turns frightening with . . . zombies!
DETAILS Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, $60; PC, $50
BOTTOM LINE Dead Island is no day at the beach.