Dead Island: Riptide

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5.5 Overall Score

Fun Combat | New Siege Missions Are Enjoyable

Tons of Repetition | Major Map Glitch | World Is Not Interesting

Written by on April 22, 2013 in [, , , ]

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The original Dead Island took many by surprise. Described as “Borderlands but with zombies,” the game featured a heavy emphasis on melee combat that was surprisingly deep and satisfying. As a result, the game was a huge success for Deep Silver and Techland. A year and a half later, Dead Island: Riptide has been released and, quite frankly, it’s just not as good as it should be.

Dead Island: Riptide takes place immediately after the campaign of the original Dead Island. The immune survivors you played as have escaped from the island of Banoi but are immediately captured by a shadowy, military group who wants to experiment on them. Things go wrong quick and your ship crashes onto the island of Palanai. Things go from bad to worse as the island becomes overrun by the undead.

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It’s important to note that Dead Island: Riptide is not a proper sequel but rather a stand-alone expansion, which you can play without owning Dead Island. The original four survivors return, each with their skill trees relatively unchanged. You can even transfer your old character in, complete with whatever skills you outfitted them with from the original. There’s one new character added to the mix who specializes in hand-to-hand weaponry, which does change combat up a bit.

The core feel of the game remains relatively unchanged. Much of your missions are fetch quests, forcing you to go from one area of the island to another to grab a specific item or hit a switch. The combat is still fairly satisfying, so most of these missions are kept from feeling overly repetitive.

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Some of them, however, feel forced and artificially lengthened. One in particular has you using flares to light your way through pitch black corridors. The only problem is that flares die out incredibly quickly. Even once you’ve turned the lights on in this area, you’ll then be forced into another area with no lights. A bit of streamlining on these missions would have helped them feel fresher.

That’s not to say that they didn’t add new mission types to Dead Island: Riptide, though. Siege missions have you and a team of survivors building fortifications around a base as zombies try to break in. If they do, you’ll have to deal with them before they wipe you and your team out. These missions can take quite a while to complete, but doing so only rarely rewards you with any meaningful loot. Additionally, there are various NPC’s scattered throughout the world who will need you to rescue them from zombie attacks. These missions, however, only take a few seconds and offer very little to the player.

The combat system is relatively unchanged as the game still has a strong emphasis on utilizing melee weapons in combat. It’s still extremely fun to use these melee weapons in analog mode, which allows you to free-form your swings to aim at specific body parts of enemies. This allows you to break enemy’s arms to stop their attacks from doing as much damage.

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However, you’ll often find yourself getting knocked over fairly easily. There are a number of quick-time events as well that often get in the way of fighting through enemies. Both of these can actually happen all at once, so while you are in a quick time event, with absolutely no good way to escape, you can get hit with a knock back attack, leading to you dying.

Four player co-op returns, and for the most part it’s fairly fun to play. Additionally, the game has added new aquatic vehicles which allow you to ram through enemies in water. Controlling these creates a sort of chaos that is actually a lot of fun, much in the same way that Dead Island was when attacking enemies using trucks.

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Loot returns in a fairly big way. Every few levels you’ll find yourself getting a few very powerful weapons and replacing your old set. As with the previous game, a large portion of playing Dead Island: Riptide is about modifying weapons. Creating a flaming shovel that can slice off a zombie’s head is still really dumb fun.

One thing that really does stand apart from the original Dead Island is the new island of Palanai. Honestly, Palanai is not nearly as interesting as Banoi. The beach resort environment of Banoi was bright, beautiful and memorable. The environment was such that there were wide areas to explore. Palanai, on the other hand, feels far more claustrophobic and smaller, similar to the second half of the original Dead Island.

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While the first game featured glitches, none were quite as prominent as the biggest one in Dead Island: Riptide. There is no mini-map. Sure, there’s a circle in the bottom right corner for a mini-map. There are icons in that circle. However, the map portion is simply not there. Tracking quests becomes next to impossible, forcing you to constantly go into the menus to actually look at the full sized map and try to figure out exactly where you need to travel. It might seem like a small frustration, but in a game that is centered around the concept of quests, it’s unacceptable that this glitch is in this game.

Dead Island: Riptide does cost less than many retail games ($40 on PC and $50 on consoles). However, even that price seems extremely high, especially when you consider that you can often times find the PC Game of the Year edition of Dead Island for $5. Maybe if Deep Silver had cut the price by $10 more, it would be easier to swallow.

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The original Dead Island might have been flawed, but it was still a lot of fun to play. The core combat of Riptide is still fun, but the world simply is not. Even at a lesser price point, it still feels like it’s too much. Yes, Riptide does try some new things but it’s mostly the same game in a less interesting environment, with a glitch that makes the game a chore to play through. If you really want more Dead Island, you should probably wait until Dead Island 2.

A copy of Dead Island: Riptide was provided to The Married Gamers for review.

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Author: Addam Kearney View all posts by

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