Dead Island Riptide has arrived and your enjoyment of this title is going to depend on how you felt about the original. Back when Dead Island came out in 2011 it was broken upon release and then was patched later and it evolved into a game that some people really enjoyed. Dead Island Riptide isn’t as broken as the original was when it launched but it still has its own share of issues. While going through this game I couldn’t escape the feeling of déjà vu that I kept getting. Indeed Dead Island Riptide quickly began to feel like it should have been a $20 expansion pack for the original instead of a full-fledged $50 sequel. The characters return from the original with one addition to your party with a new brawler, John Morgan. If you played the original there is the ability to import your character and bring them into Riptide and you will start at the level you left off at on the original Dead Island. The zombies in this game scale appropriately though so if you import a character that is level 30 then you can expect to fight enemies that are around that same level. Dead Island Riptide is at times fun and at other times a frustrating title and which side of the fence you land on depends on the type of game you want to play.
As I mentioned above it won’t be long before you experience déjà vu if you have played the original title. After the prologue you find yourself trapped on a tropical paradise with a bunch of zombies trying to kill you and you are trying to find a way to escape off the island and to a safe haven. This is also where I encountered my first big glitch in the game. As I was going through the prologue the audio completely cut out for me. There was no music, no sound effects, nothing. It was total silence. I had to quit the game and then go back into it where it appeared everything was fine. I went through that segment again and this time the audio stayed on but that wasn’t the only occurrence where the audio was a bit strange. The voice acting in this game is never consistent with it being terrible at times ranging to pretty decent in other instances. The tone of some of the characters seemed to be off such as when your character seemed to sound excited or carefree when in actuality you are in a very dangerous situation in the game. I guess what I am saying is that the voice work for the characters didn’t always match up with what was going on in the game which could be a bit jarring. In terms of graphics I liked how the tropical island looked and there were a few times where I would simply stop and pan the camera around to enjoy a nice view off the top of a cliff or a nice waterfall. Once I got going though there were times when there was some insane clipping problems such as when I would take out a zombie near a trailer and they would fall down with their body violently shaking. The upper part of their torso went right through the wall and seemed to be stuck in the trailer while the legs were still on the outside. The framerate at times seemed to take a hit as well. In addition to some of these graphical problems there was some really bad animation at times. Climbing something always seemed to be a bit of a chore as the animation tended to be weird and it would always take you a few seconds to gather yourself after the climb. If there happened to be a group of enemies near you then chances are that they might take you out (or at least cause significant damage) before you fully get your bearings from the climb. As I would make my way through the environment I would also notice some “pop-in” from time to time which would also be a bit jarring.
As you make your way through Dead Island Riptide you will have a mini map on the lower right portion of your screen. You will also have a GPS to help guide you to your next location. The problem here is that neither of these work very well. The GPS is almost completely broken as it would almost never show me the way to my location until I was almost upon it. When I would first set a way point on my map it would show me the route the way most open world games too. Upon closing the map though and having to rely on the mini map there was no route indicated and I frequently had to stop what I was doing to consult the main map to make sure I was headed in the right direction. Having to break up the action like that on a fairly consistent basis was really annoying and would completely take me out of the immersive experience that the development team was trying to create.
By now you are probably thinking that you should stay far away from Dead Island Riptide, however, that isn’t necessarily the case. As I stated in my opening your feelings towards this game will depend on how you felt about the original. Very little was improved upon from the original so if you really enjoyed that game then chances are you will really enjoy Dead Island Riptide. Despite the many problems this game has when it comes right down to it, this can still be a fun game. There is something satisfying about curb stomping a zombie’s head or running down a group of them on the road. Dead Island Riptide does offer online co-op and going through this game with a friend definitely raises the fun factor. As I mentioned before the difficulty of the enemies does scale in the game but that doesn’t affect the co-op. If, for example, you are level 20 and your friend is only level 10 then the enemies you fight will be around level 20 while your friend will only have to deal with the undead that is around level 10. It balances out appropriately so that someone who might be new to the game won’t be overwhelmed playing with someone that is a veteran.
There really isn’t much of a story per se and a good portion of the game felt like a giant fetch quest. Go here and get this item and then I’ll help you type of thing. Also keep in mind that once you have beaten the game it is all over. You won’t be able to go back and finish off any remaining side quests or anything of that nature. This is a huge mistake on the part of the development team and a stunning lack of foresight. One of my “problems” with these types of games is that I like to do everything. If there is a sidequest to be done then I generally like to do it and that means it generally takes me longer to go through these games. If you are going to give me this giant sandbox to play in then, well, let me play in it after I have gone through the main story. If you are playing with a friend though you probably won’t care all that much as you will be having fun taking out the different kinds of zombies you encounter with your leveled up weaponry. Work benches return in this game and allow you to upgrade your weaponry as well as add to them so you can create a lot of death and destruction yourself. You will be utilizing these work benches quite a bit in the game as your weapons do deteriorate. Your favorite weapon will eventually be rendered useless due to being damaged unless you repair it at one of these workbenches. This of course costs money to do so you will want to search all of the containers you can in the game as well as the enemies you just killed to try and save up money for not only repairs but to buy items you might need such as med kits.
The action in the game is broken up from time to time with a base defense type of mechanic where you need to hold your ground and defend your current position against an oncoming horde of enemies. This can be a lot of fun with friends as you are trying to defend your territory while at the same time trying to defend your allies against the horde. There are times when you will see icons pop up that indicate someone in your group is in trouble and I would quickly run over to lend a helping hand. There is even an achievement for doing that so you need to make sure you stay on your toes and are continually aware of what is happening around you.
Dead Island Riptide is a bit of a mixed bag. The game has its share of problems and it feels like it should have been an expansion pack to the original title instead of a full-fledged sequel. With everything I have outlined above though there is something satisfying with some of the visceral combat and personally I tend to enjoy open world games. There will be people who don’t care about what I said above and will simply enjoy going through the game with a group of friends and they will have a great time doing so. If you are one of those people then have fun. There were times when I was playing with a big grin on my face as I figured out the best strategy to eliminate a new enemy or I unlocked a new weapon that would cause a lot of destruction. There were also times though where I got annoyed and simply shook my head at some of the missed opportunities here. The Dead Island franchise has a tremendous amount of potential but it has yet to be realized. If there happens to be a third title I hope that the development team at Techland can learn from their mistakes from the first two titles and give us the game that everybody wants. Then maybe the Dead Island franchise will reach its full potential.
Originally posted on Totally Gaming Network