Publisher: Deep Silver
What they say: Dead Island Riptide is an open world Action Role-Playing game (RPG) in which players are tasked with surviving a viral based zombie outbreak isolated in a topical setting. The game is a follow-up to 2011’s original Dead Island game, and contains additional Survival-Horror gameplay mechanics and a first-person player perspective. Additional features include: New and returning characters, new vehicle types, levels and weather conditions, online multiplayer support including co-op, group defense tactics, and escalating melee and projectile weapon proficiencies. Special Edition Includes Alternate Character Skin, Pack of Weapon MODs, Digital Strategy Map.
What I say: When I first played Dead Island the bugs and glitches kinda wore me down and it took me a while to come back to it and after numerous patches I actually found the game pretty enjoyable. That being said, I was really looking forward to Dead Island Riptide.
The first thing you really should know about Riptide is that is isn’t really considered a sequel as much as a spin-off. The game does have the feel of an expansion pack, a long game length expansion pack. You are able to import your character from the first Dead Island which does ramp up the difficulty quite a bit as enemies scale to your level. All four characters (Sam B., Xian Mi, Logan and Purna) from the first game return as well as a new guy named John Morgan (Named after the lead actor from Cannibal Holocaust. Nice!). The four originals all play the same right down to their unchanged skill trees. John is a hand to hand combat expert which changes up things quite a bit. It, like before, should be pretty easy to find a character to complement your playing style.
Combat is mostly melee based as ammo for the various firearms can be quite hard to come by. There a ton of weapons and a lot of cool new mods to amp up the coolness and destructive nature of your weaponry. The difficulty in the first game was pretty high and I sincerely believe that it is even higher this time. The infected are always around and it seems like there are more around every corner. All the enemy types from the first game return as well as some new ones like the Screamer, which can disorient you, and the various scientist infected that cause new headaches. The level of danger and downright fear is actually higher this time around. The zombies are more plentiful, more varied, and have a bad habit of coming up behind you. Another new feature is the ability to fortify your encampments. You can put up fences and upgrade them to be electrified. These missions really pump up the adreline as waves after wave of the undead descent upon you and your decisions on what to fence up and what NPCs to help and upgrade can really make a difference of whether you make it though the encounter. These are easily the most thrilling part of the game, and highly enjoyable.
Vehicles are still present in the game and drive just as they did in the original game. New this time however is the use of boats. These can cut down travel time quite a bit but they don’t protect you from zombies especially another new type, the drowners. They will grab your boat as it goes by and hang on, eventually boarding you and going for the kill.
Online co-op is pretty damn well done as well. As my regular readers know, I love in the wilds of Kentucky. This means I have to settle for satellite internet. If a game does not have immaculate online code it’s pretty much unplayable for me. Gladly, this is not a problem. I played several hours with fellow staffer Scot Woods and never experienced any kind of drops or lag. I was very impressed with this aspect of the game. The game is great fun with friends and I especially enjoyed the base defense missions this way.
Now at this point it seems like Dead Island Riptide is a pretty great game, right? Not so fast kiddies, there are a couple of problems. First, the story is awful. I mean really awful. Even though it picks up right where Dead Island left off, two of the most important side characters are removed and never seen again (Until Dead Island 2 I guess). And the story structure is exactly the same as the first game. Very little is done to advance the world building and it makes this game feel like filler. Fun filler, but filler none the less.
Second, this late in this generation of consoles we should not have such choppy graphics as we have in Dead Island Riptide. All the cutscenes chop and skip and gameplay is frequently choppy as well when you are surrounded by zombies, which is like 90% of the time. The sheer joy of making an electric samurai sword outweighs the graphical issues for me, but I know not everyone will feel this way. Hopefully there will be a patch soon to address this one real flaw.
If you loved the first Dead Island then welcome home, this game is really more of the same but the new additions to gameplay make it still feel fresh enough to give it a go. However, if you didn’t like Dead Island, this game will certainly not change your mind.