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Dead Island Riptide

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By Kelevandos12-07-2013
BloodyFanGirl (editor)
Bobfish (editor)
Dead Island Riptide

The Defence

Developer:
Techland
Publisher:
Deep Silver
Genre:
Action, Adventure, Role Playing
Release Date:
25-04-2013

The Prosecution

CPU:
Intel Core 2 Duo 2.66 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA:
Nvidia GeForce 9600
AMD equivalent
RAM:
4 GB
HDD:
7 GB
DirectX:
9.0c

The Case

The first Dead Island was an outstanding game for multiple reasons. It was unique, fresh, scary at times, and It included an absolutely brilliant combat system which made the player feel the weight of their fists and weapons like never before. Now we get to return to the tropical paradise in a standalone expansion called Riptide. But is it worth returning?

The Trial

First of all, you need to be aware of the fact that Riptide is not a sequel nor is it a truly new game. It is a set of all the well-known elements put together in a different way and with a few new pieces to play with. It underwent a few tweaks, making the gameplay even more addictive and satisfactory, but if you hated any of the core elements of Dead Island then you will probably find it the same here as well.

The story begins right after the final scenes of the first game, with the immune survivors landing on a military ship off the coast of Banoi. Their happiness does not last long as they are taken prisoner by a man called Frank Serpo. Drugged and experimented on, the heroes get a chance to escape when their ship is hit by a mighty storm, followed by a crash. They end up on Palanai Island, part of the same archipelago, and quickly learn that it has been struck by an outbreak of the all-too-familiar zombie plague.

And to achieve this kind of look you don’t even have to edit config files this time around.

And to achieve this kind of look you don’t even have to edit config files this time around.

The 4 playable characters of the first game are joined by a new one, martial arts specialist John Morgan. He is interesting in gameplay, dealing powerful kicks and punches without having to think too much about his weapons’ durability, making him a good choice for the zombie-slaying veterans and newbies alike. We do not know all that much about him at first, but the diary collectibles scattered throughout the island will cast some light on his past.

Now as for the island itself, if you played Dead Island, you most probably remember it being divided into several “environments”, namely the jungle, some tunnels and a city. Well, welcome back as Riptide features the very same sights, only a little shuffled and with a new model or texture added here and there. It is almost a year since yours truly last played the original but it is easy to imagine that someone who just finished it and want to jump right into the continuation could be a little disappointed. No reason to mourn though as the locations are still believable and full of surprises, with an interesting addition of instances found from time to time. These tiny, often puzzle-like areas pose some extra challenge as well as a chance to obtain rare crafting materials.

In terms of weaponry Riptide provides as much diversity as its predecessor. Once again the core of our personal arsenal are the melee toys – slashing, blunt and throwable. There is also a new type designed especially for Morgan – claws. Every weapon can be modified (once we have found the corresponding blueprint and components) which allows for lots of customization and near limitless ways to annihilate the living dead. There are also firearms to be found (though they are just as scarce as before) and a few completely new devices used mainly “for fun” – the nailgun, flare gun and harpoon, to name some of them. These beauties give interesting effects and putting a nail in the forehead of an approaching zombie does will keep you entertained for quite some time.

Kind Sir, can you tell me what time it is now?

Kind Sir, can you tell me what time it is now?

There are other new options like, the team menu, which allows us to perform special quests for our NPC friends (mostly “fetch” quests) in order to power them up in teamfight missions or expand the stock of the shopkeepers. This one could be done better though, as right now the player usually ends up doing the quests in waves, like “I have a backpack full of materials, time to give them away”, instantly amassing experience points for a few levels. Another interesting novelty is the addition of boats as controllable vehicles, which you will be using quite often to traverse the partially flooded jungle.

If you are more of a pack wolf, Riptide offers the same great matching system as the first game and joining another player in their struggle takes as little as the stroke of a button. It works flawlessly and so does the disconnection process, so it would be a shame not to break some bones with a friend! And for the social freaks there is the achievement system and, erm…Facebook events? Anyways, have fun!

The last honourable mention goes to the bestiary (zombiary?) of the game. Why honourable? Well, mostly because it didn’t change much. Apart from the well-known walkers and the infected, we also meet the new kinds of stronger, special zombies. For example you have The Butcher, a horrifically fast, unstoppable beast, which is sure to cause you a meaty headache. And there are the Drowners, who give you a heart attack when first encountered. Also, some of the more important missions will have a Diablo-style boss at the end, with a unique name, higher stats and, of course, epic loot drops.

Next-gen Mario – jumping on zombie heads.

Next-gen Mario – jumping on zombie heads.

And the bad things? Well, apart from the aforementioned repetition, which may or may not be seen as a flaw, I encountered an alarming number of technical problems. They were rather minor, yes, but annoying nonetheless. Having to boot the game up 3 times because of it crashing during the logo splash or a need to play with the system cursor visible on-screen are not situations you would expect from a top-rank game, right? Right.

The Verdict

Dead Island: Riptide is a fun game to play, just as much as the first one. Among all the zombie games, this franchise is and will most probably remain yours truly’s favourite, thanks to the fighting system, the great realisation and the hack’n’slash mechanics. Judging from the number of the “join a nearby player” pop-ups I encountered throughout the game, many people seem to think likewise. Just… come on Techland. Give us a proper sequel next time!

Case Review

  • A Nail Here, A Harpoon There: The new contextual weapons provide lots of fun.
  • Let Me Show You The Kicks Of My People: Morgan brings some freshness into the fray!
  • Splash, Headshot!: The achievement system works just fine.
  • More Zombies: Riptide gives us more of the things we loved in Dead Island...
  • Old Wounds: ...and a bunch of those we hated. And it is built with the very same pieces.
  • Ich Will Unreal Spielen!: More technical issues than usually acceptable.
4
Score: 4/5
More zombies, similar places, new toys.

Appeal

If you're wondering whether or not you should get Riptide, it all comes down to what you thought of the original Dead Island. You see, while Deep Silver might charge you €40 for Riptide, it is not a sequel to Dead Island. It's a stand-alone expansion. A very pricey expansion at that, and an incredibly lazy expansion too. Some people hated the original Dead Island for its numerous bugs, porting issues, terrible story, somewhat sluggish controls and so on. Others were able to forgive the game for its issues in lieu of the fun co-operative melee combat, looting and crafting. Though I was frustrated by the bugs and lazy port work, I was still part of the latter group. I completed Dead Island with a buddy, and we had fun most of the way through. Co-ordinating fights with the game's special zombies never got boring for us. Riptide copies everything from Dead Island, adds in a new storyline, new locations, boats and a few new weapons and zombie types. Techland and Deep Silver expect that to be enough for a €40 game.

Well, it isn't. Though Riptide's intention is to be more story-heavy than the original and feature characters you're supposed to care more for, it fails miserably. What happens instead, is that the players are forced to go through more uninteresting dialogue, cutscenes and other story-related stuff than before. It's as if the developer didn't even know that their own game’s strong suit is the combat and the combat alone. If you're going to focus more on the story, then at least write a story that has something to offer. In addition, the few new gameplay elements - such as the many rivers and the boats you use to cross them - make things more tedious instead of exciting. Riptide and the original Dead Island both had some annoying issues concerning quests. They were all fetch quests, and every quest is placed so far away from everything else, forcing you to waste time running around the same locations over and over again. This hasn’t been improved with Riptide and is instead even more intensely frustrating, because wading through water slows you down, making it a chore to trek across the world for random items needing to be picked up.

Overall, Riptide is fun enough to keep the die-hard fans of Dead Island occupied, but the price tag is misleading. Little new is added and the few new features are either entirely unremarkable or just serve to make things worse. The technical and gameplay-related issues that pulled down Dead Island are also still clearly present in Riptide, making it a questionable purchase for anybody other than die-hard fans desperate for more.

3
Score: 3/5

Appeal

The first Dead Island came with big promises, promises of an open, zombie infested world where players had to, alone or with up to three other people, survive and eventually fight their way to safety It kind of delivered on the promises but the delivery was very dull and repetitive, not to mention very, very broken on PC. Then Riptide was announced – a standalone expansion. There were no loud promises of vast improvements or even acknowledgement of a lacklustre minor improvement, just a tale of more open world and co-op goodness with a new location, new weapons/items, a new character and continuation of the story. Did it deliver? Yes. Did that vastly improve the game? Hell no. At least that is the answer for most of you who felt that the first game was very repetitive and got really boring really fast. It still has/uses the exact same gameplay mechanics as the first game...just on a different map. A slightly different map.

Now for those of you who did enjoy the game or tried really hard to, the game still retains all its good features: it’s got a big map to explore, lots of zombies to slay and a lot of fun to have in co-op with friends. As a real PC version this time, it is even playable and manages to run and look quite nice even without the extensive modification of config. files and mod support. The added new character is different from the available roster or you can just import your old character from your Dead Island and continue with all the perks you managed to grind up.

In conclusion, Riptide is a tough choice. Its relatively high prices will make you think long and hard before buying it. If you are desperate to explore more of that world and continue the story, while continuing to mess around with friends then go ahead. Otherwise if you had enough of the first part, then you won’t find anything new here.

3.5
Score: 3.5/5
Comments (7)
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Posts: 2661

Don't worry brother. We are not alone

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Posts: 53

I think I am one of the minority that actually liked Dead Island.

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Posts: 233

Zombies...pah...entertainment for scrubs

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Posts: 2661

I...I actually quite like Dead Island

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Posts: 351

I know that the main team was working on dying light which looks great, so I am going to stay away from this one. I had my fill of dead island the first time.

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Posts: 1498

It's also better than the original game.

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Posts: 1200

Psh, you guys were too nice. I was too nice as well. I would've given it a 2.5, but despite all the annoying issues, the lazy port work and, well, lazy work altogether.... it's just so damn fun at times. And that's kind of important.