Dead Island Riptide Review

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Dead Island Riptide Review
A terrifying-ly bad game.

Author: Jeff McAllister

Dead Island was a middling game that was released in the not-so distant 2011 and followed a story of four island resort vacationers who were immune to a spreading disease that seemed to raise the other island inhabitants from the dead and turn them into aggressive and voracious monsters. Although the setting and idea was interesting; the gameplay, characters, quick deaths, and just about everything else about the game was disappointing.

With Dead Island Riptide, the new title from Techland, a company that is known for dropping bigger deuces than an elephant, it is simply more Dead Island with a new playable character. There’s nothing improved gameplay-wise, characters still look like they were carved out of wood, and the new additions to the game; like the hub-based wave battles are pointless and monotonous.

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Riptide, which is more or less a sequel/expansion of the original Dead Island, takes place immediately after the events of the first game. The four original characters land their helicopter on a ship and are then met with a shady scientist and generic surly army guy that take the four of them aboard for testing and such. While in their rooms they meet another character who is immune to the disease that was spreading across the game’s first island of Banoi.

This character is named Alex or Joe or something, I don’t really remember. If you don’t choose to play as him, then he is as important to the game as all the other characters; i.e. not at all. Dead Island Riptide gives players the ability to import their characters from the original game, so why anyone who has played the original game would choose a new level one character over their own veteran character who they most likely spent many laborious and frustrating hours with, doesn’t make much sense. Also, if you are playing the expansion to Dead Island without having played the first game, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense either, but then again, the events of the first game don’t really have any relevance here.

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Just as the game starts in full, the ship you are on is come upon by a hurricane and you then need to find a way off it before it sinks. You wash up on the shore of Palanai, which is amazingly enough another island infested with zombies and happens to look remarkably like Banoi. As you get your bearings after washing up, you (and if you are playing co-op which can be done with up to 3 others) meet up with a few other characters that are immune to the disease and they tell you to go to the nearby settlement where they have set up a survivor’s camp. Here you meet other characters who have useless things to sell you and are introduced to Riptide’s new feature; the hub-based wave battles.

Each time during the game that you and your group of survivors move to a new encampment, you will need to do this little sequence where you need to protect your camp from zombies. You can set up fences to slow the attackers down, set up machine gun emplacements, but more often than not, you’ll just run around and hack and slash at the dead as they enter your camp. It’s not a fun activity, nor does there seem to be any real reason for it to be added, as each time it happens, it’s always for the same reason.

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Aside from the new hub battles, the game play is exactly the same as the original game, maybe even worse so. The game has the exact same weapons, the same crafting, the same animations, the same repetitious fetch quests, the same driving, the same incredibly frustrating quick deaths, and sometimes the zombies even still sound like they are deflating when they are killed.

This time around, not only are you able to drive jeeps around one of the two islands you visit, but given the fact that the recent hurricane has just about submerged the island under water, there are now boats you can drive around in as well. The vehicles are a necessary evil for the game as the many quests that you need to perform throughout the game will have you going from one end of the island to the other repeatedly.

The first section of the game will have you roaming the water covered jungle, but the areas that you can access are limited to paths, roads, and waterways. Trying to climb up hills or going through bushes will run you into invisible walls and will keep you on the critical path, limiting the amount of the island you can actually explore.

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The second half of the game lets you explore the town of Henderson, which much like the jungle, is partially submerged in water. Henderson may seem like a huge area to explore, but deceivingly enough, only half of the town’s map is available for exploring, suggesting that perhaps the rest will be opened up in later DLC releases. Once you realize that, the game feels dirty, even more so than it does with the constant frame rate issues.

Many times when killing enemies, especially those who were found in water, my system would slow to a crawl and one time it continually slowed my frame rate down until it actually stopped and the screen went jumbled and blue. It was more terrifying than any of the zombies in the game who have an amazing ability to appear out of thin air in front of you or magically appear behind you to grab you, could have ever caused.

Dead Island Riptide is a horrific game but in all the worst ways possible. If you liked the first game and enjoyed playing through it, then save your pennies and play through it again. Skip Riptide and wait for the next Dead Island game which will hopefully not be a Techland game and will be a little more diverse from the original.

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Title: Dead Island Riptide
Developer: Techland
Rating: M
Release Date: April 23rd, 2013
Platforms Available: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Platformed Reviewed: Xbox 360
Game provided for review