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Dead Island: Riptide

Score: 60%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Techland Software
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1; 2 - 4 (Online)
Genre: Action/ RPG/ Survival Horror

Graphics & Sound:

The original Dead Island was good, dumb fun that unfortunately wore out its welcome long before the end credits rolled. The joy of dismembering and mutilating the undead quickly gave way to tedium, while the structure of the game never graduated past mere fetch quest monotony. Dead Island: Riptide is merely more of the same, which is not exactly forgivable in this day and age.

Dead Island: Riptide isn't a looker, but neither is it totally offensive to the eyes. You know, just like Dead Island was! The gore remains a satisfying reward for well-timed strikes: all the flying limbs and exploding heads are typical for zombie-themed games, and every landed hit has a real sense of impact. Whether your attacks result in severed or broken appendages, the combat animation sells the action well enough. Melee weapons become more outlandishly creative the further you progress. So overall, it's not a game you'd expect to see at the end of a console generation, but it has a few charms.

Dead Island: Riptide's voice acting isn't great. Of course, the game is populated with some of the most obnoxious characters you're bound to find in a game. Zombies groan and bellow with apathy and rage when the situation calls for it. The sound of a thug screaming is identifiable to anyone who has played the first game, and is a good warning to stay away unless you are prepared. Sound effects are mostly great; the splats and cracks of guts being spilled and bones being broken never get old, though sound bugs break the immersion from time to time. The music is decent, but never gets in the way. Lots of it is actually recycled from Dead Island, but then again, most of the game is.


I gave up on Dead Island before the credits rolled, but hopping right into Dead Island: Riptide made it abundantly clear that the game takes place right after the events of the first game. The four immune survivors of Banoi's outbreak of undead monsters have escaped the island and ended up aboard an aircraft carrier in the custody of the military. Long story short, most of the personnel end up among the ranks of the undead and the ship crashes on another island called Palanai. The phrase "here we go again" has never meant so much.

Dead Island: Riptide is almost a carbon copy of Dead Island, save for the setting and the writing. The play style remains the same. It is an action role-playing game in which you take control of one of the survivors and complete a series of questlines that both advance the plot and give some context for your actions. In between your travels, you will mercilessly slaughter legions upon legions of shambling monsters, leveling up your character as you do so.

Cooperative play returns, and it's just as good as it was in Dead Island. Again, that's just because it's essentially the same game as Dead Island. It's recommended that you take your game online, but I recommend that you keep your game set to private. One of the few public sessions I got into featured a child far too young to play the game who apparently didn't know that ninja looting was frowned upon. Play with people you trust, because most people don't really care about the progress you're making.


Regular zombies are manageable enough, provided you're good at kiting them around one at a time. If you end up pulling a mob of them, I suggest you run as fast as you can or find a vehicle. Dead Island: Riptide's combat is mainly melee-focused, so if you find yourself surrounded, you're going to die quickly.

It's advisable to loot absolutely everything you can, though the process of looting might be tedious. You'll want to purchase as much as you can to survive, though you admittedly find most of the game's better weapons as loot drops. Medkits are important, as players with poor management and reflex skills will find their health whittled down to a sliver in the blink of an eye.

Navigation is one of the frustrations in Dead Island: Riptide. The mini map on the bottom of the screen is nearly useless. It shows where points of interest are, but it fails to deliver useful terrain information (roads, paths, etc). It's completely black, save for the aforementioned points of interest.

Game Mechanics:

Mechanically, Dead Island: Riptide is absolutely identical to Dead Island, right down the the movement and controls. Movement is comparatively slow and clunky, and the frustration is compounded by the existence of an ugly stamina bar that appears and drains every time your character exerts him/herself. You swing your weapons at the undead in the hopes of landing critical hits and/or dismembering them. All the while, you fill your Rage Meter, which, when used, will send your character into a murderous frenzy that is bound to leave a number of zombies in pieces. The combat is indeed satisfying, but you will probably grow tired of it too quickly. Leveling up is a pleasure, if only because it is fun in any game.

As in the first game, your weapons degrade as you use them, perhaps too quickly. I've not experimented on the effects that human tissue and bone have with sharp and blunt objects (and I don't plan to), but these weapons are much more fragile than they appear to be. My start-out weapon (the contained BBQ Blade) was a giant knife featuring a series of burners along the edge. I'd have to repair the damn thing after every quest.

If you loved Dead Island consistently from beginning to end, you can't really go wrong with this one because it is the same game. It isn't a full-priced release, but ten dollars off isn't enough to warrant buying the same game again. In the end, I just can't recommend Dead Island: Riptide; it is far too similar to its predecessor, and it doesn't fix anything that was wrong with the first game. That's not nearly enough for any game to establish itself as a worthy successor. Wait for a price cut that renders it roughly the same cost as an expansion pack, because honestly, that's what it should have been released as.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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