The Ninjabot

Dead Island: Riptide Review

Posted on April 25, 2013 at 6:22 pm by Stephen Wood

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In 2011, Techland released Dead Island, a zombie killing RPG game that came out to mixed reviews, but was praised for its co-op features and the fun factor of slicing the undead with customizable weapons. While the game was fun, it had a lot of issues that plagued it. This game not only suffers from a lot of the same issues, but it added a few more to the list. Read on for my Dead Island: Riptide review for your enjoyment!

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Dead Island: Riptide Review – The Story

Riptide starts where the last game left off with the group of survivors in a helicopter flying away from the zombie infested Banoi island. They find a ship, thinking that they found salvation, only to be thrust right back into the apocalypse thanks to the virus having spread among the soldiers on the ship. After a monsoon, the ship crashes and they find themselves once again stranded in paradise, but this time on the island of Palanoi. They join up with John Morgan, an immune survivor who they met on the ship, and is a new playable character with a focus on close-range combat.

The rest of the story, like the original, revolves around the group trying to find salvation, figure out why they’re immune, and hopefully get a cure for the virus. You meet other survivors along the way and complete missions for them, ranging from finding supplies to helping them fortify their camp. The story isn’t very compelling overall as it fails to draw you in. The formula is very rinse and repeat with only a few truly engaging missions to hold your attention. Let’s face it, not many people play Dead Island for the story—it’s the gameplay that will bring people back into the franchise.

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The Weapons of Dead Island: Riptide

When I think of gaming, I think of having fun, and this game delivers big time. The goal will always be the same: kill the zombies or stronger mutations, but it’s the many ways you can achieve this goal that makes Riptide so much fun to play. The keyword here is customization, and this game has a ton of it. There are four basic types of weapons: melee, throwing, explosives, and guns. You can find a number of these all over the island, and almost anything is fair game: knives, machetes, boomerangs, broom handles, paddles etc. You can then find blueprints to help you modify these and make them more dangerous. Add nails, fire, gas, electricity and much more to almost any weapon to help you on your quest. The guns also got an uplift this time around as ammo is more common than the last game, but I still believe they don’t have the power a gun should have. A single shotgun blast to the head should be enough to kill an infected creature, but it usually takes a full clip. After a while, you’ll just revert back to melee weapons, which can slice off heads with one clean swing.

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The Infected

If there is one thing I love about this genre, it’s the unrelenting tension throughout the experience. The scenery might be nice to look at, but unless you’re at one of the fortified bases, you’re never safe. Most of the enemies will consist of zombies, or “infected” as they refer to them, but once in a while you’ll come across a few special creatures that can cause quite a lot of pain. All of the special creatures return from the first game with a couple added in for good measure. The grenadier is one of the new infected for the game, a creature that will happily send a grenade your way at the worst time. All of them need to be strategically dealt with and all of them do a great job of amplifying the tension.

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Co-Op

Co-Op was one of the best things about the original. The drop in, drop out whenever you want feature is very welcome when friends aren’t always available. There is a lot of fun to be had if you can convince three of your buddies to join you in the adventure. On top of that, the game recognizes what level each player is at and adjusts the difficulty accordingly. If you’re a level 10 and attack a zombie, it will be around the level but when your level 70 friend will attack the same zombie, it will be at his level. This keeps the game competitive for everyone regardless of how much time they previously put into the game. If your friends aren’t available, then you can always play with random people online so that you don’t have to experience this on your own.

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New Features

Despite being almost identical to its predecessor, Riptide does boast a few new features to keep you occupied. They’ve added the ability to defend your base against oncoming hordes by putting chain link walls and other items to help you. During these missions, you must also ensure that all the survivors within the base survive the onslaught, which can sometimes be a bit of a pain. I personally did not like this new feature because other games such as Gears of War 3 have done it way better. Another new feature is the addition of drivable boats to get across the island. This game has dynamic weather and an increased focus on monsoons, so places tend to get flooded. The boat drives just like the cars did in the first game, so it’s nothing too exciting, but it’s still pretty cool to drive over floating zombies for some grisly kills.

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Stats and Levels

I love stats. I must spend hours going over stats every week because they fascinate me. This game has a strong focus on keeping track of everything you’ve done, and pushes you to do things out of your comfort zone by giving you in-game goals that can increase your XP quickly. Kill 100 zombies with fire, run over 10 zombies with a boat, use 50 med kits and the list goes on. XP in this game can be spent on customizing your character the way you want him/her to be. The game uses a skill tree focusing on Fury (this games version of a power boost), combat weapons, and life. You can spread your attribute points or focus on just one skill to optimize your experience.

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Now For the Downside

As I mentioned before, this game is not without its issues. I had heard a lot of complaints about the first game, but I personally wasn’t bothered by it. There was some clipping here and there, but overall I was satisfied. This time around, not only is that same clipping still around, but I found some bugs that really hurt my experience enjoying the game. The game crashed on me three times in the first few hours alone, including an instance where I was watching a cut scene and suddenly a popup came on, saying a survivor had died, forcing me to quit the game. I hope these kinds of issues are patched soon, but I think Techland should have delayed the game and fixed these before the release. A few other nitpicks I have are the walking mechanics, which make me feel like the character is drunk; the writing on the skill tree is so small I can barely read it; and the cut scenes are so poorly done that you would swear they’re from 2006, when this generation of games began.

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When all is said and done, Dead Island: Riptide is still a fun game to play despite its issues. I think that with a little more polish, it could have been a much better experience. I would advise you come in with the same mindset as you would with an action film. Don’t expect great performances or much of story, but rather a lot of action and a lot of blood.

Presentation: 6.5

Gameplay: 7.5

Replay Value: 8.5

LEGACY SCORE: 7.5

Dead Island: Riptide is available now on X-Box 360, PS3 and PC.

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