Dead Island Riptide banks on you having really loved Dead Island. We're talking love to an unquenchable degree. Did you adore Dead Island, could you not get enough of its boundless slaughter and tropical zombie abominations? Riptide hopes so, because its sole purpose is to provide exactly more of it, and nothing further.
The ironic thing is, Riptide is probably going to be most enjoyed by those completely new to the series. To a Dead Island veteran, Riptide's stance of, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," may come off as tiresome, especially since the original game had plenty worth fixing. That, and the original's setting was a lot more engaging.
Still, if all you ever wanted was two games about slicing zombies with poisoned katanas and exploding knives, Riptide has your back.
Dead Island Riptide (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Developer: Techland Publisher: Deep Silver Released: April 23, 2013 MSRP: $49.99
Like its predeccessor, Dead Island Riptide is light on narrative, but there's the skeleton of a story in place. The original survivors of the Banoi outbreak have been picked up by a stereotypical, self-destructively shady military organization, and are being held hostage on a ship when the zombies rear their ugly heads again. After an altercation on board, the protagonists wash up on a new island, Palanai, which is dealing with its own zombie crisis. Cue the onslaught of back-and-forth missions!
Riptide isn't billing itself as a sequel, which is probably for the best as it truly feels like an expansion upon the original -- to the point where you can even import your old characters and access their old levels and unlocked skills. Each character has access to some expanded skills and will likely be close to maxing out their progress trees by the time the campaign ends. Despite new abilities, none of the existing four characters play noticeably differently and all of them generally fall back into their hacking or bashing ways. There is, however, the inclusion of a new hand-to-hand combat character, who uses kicks and punches with deadly efficiency.
As ever, the game is fueled entirely by accepting various fetch and kill quests, picking up progressively powerful weapons to upgrade, and tackling the undead horde with near-mindless hack-n'-slash brutality. The "Borderlands with zombies" vibe has been preserved in totality, with up to four friends able to go online and take down the mutants with their own preferred blades, guns, hammers, and claws. Generic zombies are once again joined by more advanced mutations, including the tank-like Thugs, irritating Screamers, and yet more of those gigantic, straitjacketed Rams. Exactly how many insane asylums are on these islands?
Every good element of Dead Island can be found in Riptide. It's still gratifying to find new weapons and modify them to provide electric, poison, or flame damage. There's still a base enjoyment to be had in carving off limbs and kicking monsters in the head and ass. The rare battles with humans remain the most interesting parts of the game. Cooperative play is as good a laugh as it ever was. None of this has changed.
On the flipside, every single negative aspect of the original game has been preserved with equal care. Combat is still frustrating in its anarchy, with zombies constantly shoving you over, initiating quick-time-events, or surrounding survivors for plenty of three-hit kills. Attacks, yet again, miss with a high frequency due to the difficulty of judging distance amid the first-person chaos, or sometimes just because a weapon passed through the opponents' bodies. Least forgivable of all, the game is as unpolished and unfinished as it was before, with animations lacking decent transitions, and all manner of graphical bugs putting in their seemingly obligatory appearances. In a second game that really hasn't done much extra groundwork on the content front, it's fairly insulting to be given a game that hasn't even improved technically.
This is not to say Riptide doesn't at least attempt a few ideas of its own. At least in terms of scenario, the game tries to stand out, adding new siege-style battles and placing an emphasis on water travel, with boats that can be rammed into enemies with gleeful force. The game's heart is in the right place with sieges, but its delivery is lacking. While there's a certain fun to be had in setting up perimeter fences and placing gun turrets before waves of zombies arrive, once the battle begins it's just more thoughtless chopping with the added annoyances of NPCs who require your constant help. Still, points for giving something fresh a go.
Riptide's biggest failing, however, is in its environment. Balai simply isn't as fun a place to explore as Banoi. The original game's tropical resort was a unique and flavorful setting, giving Dead Island its own sense of personality, and splitting off into various interesting town and prison areas. Banoi had an identity, one players could feel intimately familiar with over the course of their adventures. The frequent backtracking was mitigated somewhat by the generally compelling surroundings.
By contrast, Palanai is a wonted expanse of jungle for the most part, full of linear corridors gated by invisible walls, and indistinct scenery. The game's second major area, Henderson, is a little more interesting, bringing back some of the town aesthetic from the original game, but it's not a patch on the variety found there. The map design feels convoluted, full of winding roads and dead-ends that undermine its open-world presentation; there's an overwhelming sense of environmental clutter, especially in areas littered with alleyways that could go anywhere or nowhere, depending on your luck.
It could go without saying that Riptide is not a pretty game. It looks exactly like the original, which was mutton dressed as mutton. On consoles, textures are muddy, screen-tearing is common, and there are several areas where the framerate drags to an unbearable crawl. None of the visual issues are necessarily dealbreakers, but when you account for this being Techland's second crack of the whip, it becomes much harder to forgive problems that should have been ironed out in patches to the first game, let alone making reappearances in the new one.
Dead Island got away with a lot of its documented problems because, for all its inspiration and all its missteps, there was nothing quite like it on the market. It took many familiar elements to create something far more amusing than it had any right to be.
There is something like Riptide on the market, though -- it's called Dead Island, and it's a far better game, having both the strengths and the weaknesses of Riptide, but presented in a more appealing way and lacking the lingering question of how a developer can essentially reuse masses of assets and still somehow lack the resources to fix anything.
Is Dead Island Riptide a fun game? At times, yes. In terms of raw combat and power fantasy, it's just as good as Dead Island ... and it's just as bad at the same time. The bottom line is that there's no excuse for it not being superior. Being "just as good" isn't good enough, especially not when Dead Island had things on its side that Riptide doesn't. Those new to the series entirely will likely not notice the problems quite so much, and be as forgiving to it as newcomers were to Dead Island. While Riptide banks on you having loved the first, in actuality you have a lot more to gain if you've never touched it.
If you played the first game, however, I'd recommend waiting for a real sequel, because Riptide fails to get away with pulling the same trick twice.
Average - Like a meal of lukewarm water with white bread. It filled my time and my belly, but lacks any discernible flavor or nutritional value. A game that left me no different than it found me. Just passing through.
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I'm not crying. Not one bit.ChrisHannard Just tried 'The Last Of Us' on PSNow Trial, only to be told... 'Something went wrong. Try again.' Game-appropriate error message or quickie plot-summary? TheAngriestCarp I hate when people say crap like "I admit that [thing] in games is problematic, but I still enjoy it" because it's an underhanded way of contradicting your own views while convincing yourself that you aren't a hypocrite.ChillyBilly Well shit. I knew I was more than likely going to enjoy Star Wars Battlefront (cause you know, giant Star Wars nerd and all) but holy cow, the beta is fucking great! I need the full game like, now.SpielerDad Anyone here going to NYC Comic Con? Always wanted to go and lived so close, but alas, it wasn't meant to be.Mark Plechaty Well I haven't seen any levels like this on mario maker so maybe it's unique the I'd is 55BD000000961CBA GIVE IT A GO and let me know what you think
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[youtube]https://youtu.be/kStDdTSAYG8[/youtube]Sr Churros My brother caught me this Pokémon in our room yesterday. How should I name it?
[img]https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CQ0MXsiW8AAoJtu.jpg[/img]Pixie The Fairy Yay, I got off of work early and may have Friday off! I have a sinking feeling I'm going to work 10 hours on Saturday as a result, though :/
We ran out of stuff to make stuff with so they must ship us stuff so we can ship stuff.SeymourDuncan17 Yo yo I'm Marie and I got dat gangsta flow. High scores ain't no trip, cuz I whip that shit like Sonic quick. I-I mean no! I didn't say anything! Stupidrecordbreakingcombodolt.
[img]http://i.imgur.com/KBMNEHI.jpg[/img]Mike Martin I'm watching you. FlanxLycanth FALLOUT 4 PC REQ SPECS ARE OUT.
SkarKrow Work noooooooooooooooooo D:The Dyslexic Laywer I had such a awkward time playing Catherine because it shared the same name as my mother....JayDGee Broforce is coming out of early access on the 15th. I had no Idea it was an early access game.James Internet Ego I have now played all 3 Witcher games. My verdict: Witcher 1 - alright, aged badly, lots of sex. Witcher 2 - good, very short, not much sex at all. Witcher 3 - Excellent in every way. ikiryou I really wish MGO had been implemented with free-roam gameplay PMC (clan) setup instead of the standard matchmaking. Imagine roaming bands of PMC's opposing each other on the battlefield. How sexy would that be?SkarKrow Playing Shantae & The Pirates Curse, must say I'm loving it for the most part, barring the odd WHERE AM I D: momentJayDGee Added a humble code to my steam account when I already had the game. Purely because the soundtrack was attached. Now I see it on 2 friends wishlists.
They must never know.