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Ten Survival Lessons Dead Island Can Teach Us

Dead Island Screenshot - 847049

When the zombie apocalypse finally strikes, most of us will have seen enough movies to be prepared. But what if the crisis happens while we're vacationing in paradise? Dead Island, a third-person melee game, due out September 6, zips players off to a remote location and gives them free room service and a hotel full of zombies. That got us thinking: what if zombies attacked us on white sandy beaches, like they do the characters on the fictional island of Banoi? Do the standard zombie survival skills apply, or should we alter our tactics?

Here are our ten tips for the stranded.

1) Zombies can't swim, but you better know how

Zombie experts have long argued the specifics of whether zombies can or cannot swim. At the very least, they can wade into watery depths because they don't need to breathe, but some people believe that because zombies lack advanced motor capabilities; they couldn't fight the tide of a large water mass like an ocean. Even if they could, they'd make a good snack for whatever underwater creatures passed by, and their limp flesh would wear away under the pressure of the water. No matter how strong they are, if zombies are no more than walking corpses, the bloating effect of decomposition would make them swell up like beach balls.

If you're on an island, guess what: you're on an island, surrounded by water on all sides. You can only run so far until you meet miles of ocean. So if you're a good swimmer and a daring survivalist, you can lead the hungry hordes into the blue and give them a permanent burial at sea. Be sure to pack proper swim gear for you, though, else you sink with them.

Of course, drowning zombies runs the risk of infecting fish and other life forms. Everything's got to eat, after all.

2) Fresh water is scarce

Ocean water is salty, so you're going to have to seek out stores of water—either in whatever supplies remain in the island's towns and cities, or in the various streams and waterfalls hidden in the dense overgrowth. Hopefully you're on a big island with lots of options.

You'll want to plan ahead, too, for times when you're too busy running or hiding to find a resting spot with a drinkable reserve—and that's assuming the water is clean and not contaminated with the blood of fallen zombies. Ingesting their blood is a sure way to become one of them. The hot temperatures of your tropical surroundings means you'll need to drink up to stay hydrated, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

3) When you run out of ammo, you haven't run out of weapons

In Dead Island, you'll have more than just guns to keep the undead at bay. The developers have loaded the game with near-infinite weapon possibilities. Just about anything will do and can be upgraded later on, granted it doesn't break while you're using it. Each situation calls for a different approach, so if you have to, use planks and poles to defend yourself until you find a deadlier substitute.

The same goes if you're stuck on a real island in the middle of a zombie invasion. Suddenly, swimming pools are arenas, hammocks are nets, and coconuts are grenades. Make the most of your environment.

4) Brush up on your castaway skills

You know that movie Castaway? Tom Hanks plays a Fed Ex worker whose plane crashes into the ocean, leaving him as the only survivor. He washes up on the shore of a deserted island, opens a lot of packages, and befriends a volleyball named Wilson. He endures a lot of pain and anguish before he makes it back to civilization.

Chances are you'll have it a little easier. The characters of Dead Island, for instance, are simply escaping the day-to-day routine of their lives. However, even elite resort destinations only offer limited supplies, and eventually, they will run out. When that happens, you'll have to survive on what nature gives you—just like Tom Hanks did.

In between fashioning makeshift shoes and pulling out your own impacted teeth, you'll want to figure out a way to communicate with the outside world. Maybe the zombie apocalypse is restricted to your piece of paradise. Do whatever you can. Locate a radio tower or send an email, if the internet is still functioning and available. If not, take a lesson from the classics: build a giant fire and spell out the word "help" on a beach. (You might want to revise that to "send help" out of courtesy, since not every flier-by will know how to fend off zombies.) As a plus, zombies hate fire, so you can signal to your heart's content.

5) Find a boat as a last resort

Not everyone is a fighter or a mariner, but if the zombie-slaying life isn't working for you, you're better off getting the hell off that island. Forget summers spent in luxury—your life is more important than the thought of zombie-free resort restoration.

You'll probably discover some means of water transportation around the island, so either find another survivor who knows how to operate a boat or learn to do it as you go along. Bring plenty of fuel and as many supplies as you can muster. With or without a map and compass, you'll be out at sea for a long time. Weigh the pros and cons before you leap from one danger to another.

6) Keep away from crowds

When you're fighting for your life, you'll either want to travel alone or in a small group. "Small" is the key word here—no more than three or four people total. The more survivors who accompany you, the more mouths you have to feed and lives you have to save. If you're a human with any moral sense, you'll grow attached to your companions and jeopardize your own well-being when they're in peril. So if you want to survive, think small.

Whatever you do, avoid crowds of zombies and other survivors. Don't risk attracting the attention of more zombies than you can handle at once. Keeping away from people will reinforce your safety, too, because where there are people, zombies are sure to follow.

7) Weather is your friend (and enemy)

The good thing about tropical weather is that it means sunny days and clear skies, making zombies easy to spot from far away. The bad part is that nightfall is inevitable no matter where you are, and little islands are prone to monstrous storms. In the dark, zombies have the advantage. They don't need good lighting to find you; the smell of wholesome brains is enough.

Fortunately, if the ground gets muddy with heavy rains, a zombie or two might falter in pursuit. If you're lucky.

8) Immunity isn't all it's cracked up to be

If you're immune to zombie infection like the playable heroes of Dead Island, you better be ready to work off your debt to society. Other survivors can help you, but if they get bit, that's just one more zombie for you to kill. If you want to reclaim your vacation home, you have to be willing to fight for it. The threat won't subside until every zombie is dead and the beaches are washed clean.

If you're fortunate enough to have the good genes in real life, consider it a godsend. Then take into account your responsibility to humanity and have at 'em.

9) Play to your strengths

Each of the four protagonists in Dead Island has his or her own specialties—a skill set that sets him apart from the others. Players can choose from the four classes: Leader, Assassin, Jack-of-All-Trades, and Tank. In an actual zombie outbreak, determining your strengths and weaknesses will assist you in warfare.

Also, keep in mind your stamina. Like the game's characters, you can't just go in swinging. You'll need a strategy so not to tire yourself out before the battle's won.

10) Newly killed zombies are just people with a hankering for flesh

The zombies of Dead Island will come barreling at you from the start, and there's a reason they're fast and not the slow, lumbering creatures many of us are used to: these zombies are still clad in bikinis and shorts.

When a zombie virus breaks out, the infected haven't been given time to decompose. Like the human characters of Dead Island, these zombies come in different breeds: such as aggressive and slow, flaming, and ones that are able to wield weapons. It'll be up to you to prepare for the worst.

We hope our advice comes in handy early next month, when Dead Island arrives for the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. Now, how many of you survived your summer vacations?

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Stephanie Carmichael Twitter: @wita
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