More Bloody Zombies
Dead Island Riptide is a game you'll either love or simply hate. If you enjoyed the original for it's addictive combat system, four player co-op, and it's weapon crafting, Riptide may float your boat. However, if you want something totally new and refreshing, Riptide isn't it. As stated by the creative producer, Riptide is not a direct sequel. Those who played the original may see why. For starters, it looks and feels almost identical to the original from 2011. It does add a few new ideas, like boat traveling, new zombie types, and a defence mission structure. These are welcoming additions, but it's not enough to make Riptide a ground-breaking entry to the series. It may turn tiresome for those who played the original. Newcomers are more likely to enjoy what Riptide has to offer.
Riptide picks up shortly were the first ended, but there is a cinematic cut scene explaining the past events. It starts off with all four survivors forced to land their helicopter on a military vessel. After believing they are finally safe from zombie outbreak, another was just around the corner. They are quickly arrested and hold captive on the ship. Infected are on board, and another zombie outbreak spreads. A large storm ends with you and your fellow survivor shipwrecked. This is how you end up on the new island, Palanai. It's not the most original of stories, but who cares when it sets up more zombie slaying fun.
Just like it's predecessor, you begin by choosing your playable character. Very smartly, you can import your current character from the original, bring along their skills and level with it. This can be a great advantage, offering you special attacks and skills from the get go. However, the game balances your current level with the zombies strength, keeping the difficulty at a challenging pace. Riptide also increases it's level cap to 70, so there's always something to work towards for those who played the original. Along with the four main survivors, a new playable character is introduced. His name is John, an Ex-Navy Seal who is also immune to the virus. With each member having their own set of skills, John's technique is in hand combat. For players who enjoy getting up close and personal with their fists, John is the perfect choice.
Most of the original elements are back, which is mostly a good thing. The combat system is just as fun and addictive as ever. Scouting the new island, searching for loot, and modifying weapons is a joy. Even though I played the first game to death, I still enjoyed finding mods, then upgrading weapons. Whether it's turning a wooden bat into a spiky one, or simply adding electricity to a sword. Creating and searching for weapons still remains a rewarding and satisfying experience. Guns do play a bigger role than before, but they still feel wonky on the controls. It's the melee combat what makes playing Dead Island such a blast. Hacking limbs off zombies, levelling up and picking a skill feels gratifying It's so fun that it's many flaws can be forgiven.
The issues shouldn't go unmentioned, though. Almost everything wrong with the original crawls over to Riptide. It's riddled with bugs, like objects disappearing. I came across one bug that even stopped me completing a mission, but a restart soon fixed it. It also lacks polish in the visuals department. Cut scenes still remain ugly and full of frame rate issues. It's a shame too, because the game can be pretty at times. Traveling across the beach and tropical environments are nice to look at. Whilst other times, texture pop-in can occur, and character models still remain unimpressive. I also noticed a lot of the same dialog used from the original. It's a bit cheap, and makes Riptide feel more like an add-on rather than a new game.
Exploring the new island is fun, but it's much different to Banoi. There's plenty more lakes, deadly swamps and flooded areas, hence the word, Riptide. This is where the new boat transportation comes in. Hopping onto a nearby boat and driving across deadly swamps is a nice addition. With a well timed boost, you can smack into zombies that swim throughout the swamps. However, moving at a slower pace can allow infected to climb on board. If they do so, a quick time event is needed to knock them off. It makes traveling more intense, rather than driving a car on land.
Palanai is filled with tons of missions, side objectives and collectibles. There's around 20+ hours if your willing to do everything. The problem is, everything becomes repetitive after a while. This will hurt more to those who played the original. The mission structure is almost the same. You will go find someone, they need your help, you help them, then they give you information. Most of these are fetch quests, and they become tiresome rather quickly. Not every mission is the same, though. The biggest highlight are the new hub defence missions. These have you placing fences and turrets around set areas. Once your ready, you must simply survive waves of countless horde. I found it fun for a while, but playing in co-op is much more fun.
Dead Island Riptide is more of the same. It may be repetitive and bring along the same flaws, but combat and levelling up is still addictively fun. I had as much fun as I did with the original. If you don't mind a samey experience and lack of polish, Riptide will be worth playing.
Review by Gareth Smith