Dead Island Riptide Video Game Review
Written by Daniel Benson
Released by Deep Silver
Developed by Techland
2013, Rated 18 (UK)
Game released on 26th April 2013
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Windows PC
Another day, another zombie game. After last month's wholly disappointing The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct experience, was I in the right frame of mind to head into another first-person world inhabited by the undead? Given that my preparation for the release of Dead Island Riptide had been to go out and buy the original game, I at least had some expectations based on that solidly enjoyable romp across a Caribbean island.
Riptide begins as a direct story sequel to Dead Island. After choosing from the same characters available in the first game, plus newbie John Morgan, you're straight into far too many cut-scenes to establish the story (to its credit, developer Techland makes it easy to skip these and all future scenes so you get on with the business of killing zombies). The survivors have been airlifted off Banoi Island to the assumed safety of a military ship moored off shore. As you might expect, before long the ship – serving as a training ground to get the player accustomed to the controls – is overrun with zombies and it's time to fight. After getting to grips with the familiar melee weapons, you meet up with the rest of the group you've been separated from and are handed the most glorious of weapons: an automatic machine gun.
However, no sooner have you punched the air expecting to be playing Black Ops with Zombies than the ship goes down and you're washed ashore on the neighbouring isle of Palanai sans weapons. Back to rusty knives and bits of wood with nails in them.
From here on in you're back in very familiar territory; make your way to the survivors' base and talk to people to get your missions. Each mission will be to seek out items or persons that will assist in the group's survival and further the story. The survivors are a lazy bunch too, you'll spend 90% of your time out on the island trying to prevent your own death with little more than a broken plank of wood while they stay in relative group safety at their stronghold and "guard the fences". It's shit like this, survivors...
New to this instalment are boats, which are handy for getting around in the Venice-like estuaries of Palanai and Drowners, a type of zombie that lives in the water and severely hampers any thoughts you might have of a tranquil boat ride. Another couple of new zombies are Wrestlers (they smash the ground with their enormous arms, knocking the player off his feet) and Grenadiers (Biohazard suit-wearing undead that rip off their toxic boils and throw them at you. Lovely). You can still access cars and trucks for fast travel around the island and the other zombie types from Dead Island are still present.
With the aforementioned firearms removed from your inventory early on, you'll be limited for the most part to melee weapons. This is where one of my irritations arises in both Riptide and the original. Your basic weapons can be repaired and upgraded at workbenches around the island, but to get best bang for your buck you need to build your own by combining different items. To do this, you need a blueprint. While I can understand this for some of the more obscure or complicated weapons, it really grates that you can't just experiment with items to see what you get. I have a baseball bat, I have some nails – do I really need a blueprint to work out how to combine these to make a more effective weapon? Really?
My other grievance (and this also carries over from the first) is the levelling up of the zombies as the player does. This is the zombie apocalypse, people, zombies don't get stronger and faster, the survivors do. Maybe mixing the zombie types up more, or putting them in greater numbers would achieve the same thing, but I would prefer skill levels to be more realistic. Yes, I realise the irony in wanting a video game about a zombie-infested island to be more like real-life.
Minor gripes aside I did enjoy playing Riptide. There's nothing more satisfying than seeing zombies' heads split wide open at the end of a baseball bat, or running them over while you take a tour of the island by car. I wish the developers could have adjusted the sound though, as the growl of a zombie that's either on your back or 50 yards away makes the same level of noise.
Dead Island Riptide is an odd one to classify and rate. I enjoyed the first game and this one, aside from a few minor additions, is a carbon copy with imperceptible improvements. If you hated Dead Island and were hoping that Riptide would provide a fresh and exciting new experience then you'd better move along and spend your money elsewhere. If you enjoyed Dead Island and want more, then this will be ideal filler until Dead Island 2 is released.