Dead Island: Riptide
The first Dead Island game created a mixture of opinions and reviews upon its release. Some loved it, others hated it, and there were even a small number of people who viewed it as a “guilty pleasure”. Although Dead Island was fun to play, I personally felt it was almost solely comprised of fetch quests and bugs, which eventually sapped the fun out of the experience.
Repetitive quests aside, the game went on to sell quite well and therefore Techland wasted no time in developing a sequel. Despite a fairly short development time, one could only assume that they would have learnt from the infamous mistakes made in making the first Dead Island.
‘Dead Island: Riptide’ is out now, and despite the same awful voice acting and a few annoying bugs, wasting zombies with an electric sledgehammer is still amazingly satisfying.
Dead Island: Riptide takes place immediately after the events of Dead Island 1, with the previous game’s four protagonists (Logan, Sam B, Purna and Xian Mei) being transported to a ship operated by the military. Unfortunately for our heroes, the military is not here to rescue anybody, but rather, capture the four immune survivors as a step towards “weaponising” the zombie outbreak. I could go on in detail about the story, but it really is pretty abysmal.
I wasn’t expecting much, but even my low expectations were disappointed by the silliness of the game’s opening. After a new character, John Morgan, is introduced, the four are taken into custody for testing. After some tests (which are more implied as your character slips into unconsciousness) a storm breaks out, enveloping the ship and it’s crew. Captive zombies break free during the commotion, which kill and infect most of the crew. The doors to your cell open and before you know it; you’re knee deep in zombies and water, trying to overcome both the undead and the flooding ship.
The gameplay itself remains almost exactly the same as the first Dead Island, with the usual FPS controls, unless you choose the analogue control scheme, which is actually pretty fun. Basically you hold the left trigger to ready your weapon, and you use the right analogue stick to swing in various directions. It adds an enjoyable bit of strategy to cracking zombie heads, as you can use large blunt weapons to knock zombies down, or attempt to cut off the arms of a zombie with a sword by targeting them instead.
I received Dead Island: Riptide roughly a fortnight after its launch, and I’m happy to say the majority of bugs and glitches exposed by day one players have been already been addressed by Techland in a patch. The only glitch I encountered certainly wasn’t a game breaker; it was more of a minor annoyance. On the deck of the ship, there is meant to be a small collection of guns (that you inevitably lose any way) that you can use to clear the ship of the remaining zombies. That wasn’t the case in my game. I’m not sure whether it was because I had imported a character from my Dead Island 1 save, or if it was a freak occurrence, but the guns did not arrive. So I had to clear out roughly 15 zombies and one undead sea captain with a plank of wood. Not fun.
Other strange glitches included disappearing player characters from cutscenes (yes, they were invisible) and an invisible zombie or two, but they did appear pretty quickly after lunging at me.
The missions themselves aren’t as repetitive as the first Dead Island, and while there are still way too many fetch quests, there are fun additions such as missions with “dead zones” (basically a small, usually-enclosed area with extremely tough zombies).
To summarise the gameplay, the game mechanics and missions remain largely the same, yet there is something more enjoyable about Dead Island: Riptide than the previous Dead Island, especially if you’re playing multiplayer, or if you have an existing character from Dead Island 1.
Riptide looks pretty well, considering how we are pretty much at the end of the current console cycle. Visually, it is an improvement over the first Dead Island, but there are still plenty of texture pop ups, even when you install the game to the hard drive.
The environments and structures are more varied than the ones in Dead Island 1, and Techland have done well in varying the second game’s design from the first game, considering they are in the same group of islands. The buildings and resorts in particular feel better designed than the multi-levelled and cluttered labyrinths of Dead Island 1. As everything takes place mainly on ground level, it makes for fewer instances of running into a zombie’s crotch and place yourself into a dangerous situation.
The sound in Dead Island: Riptide is similar to the gameplay in that its basically cut-and-pasted from the previous game without much improvement. While some lines of dialogue are extremely cheesy and the delivery even worse, I like to think of Dead Island: Riptide as though it’s a B-game (like a B-movie), that doesn’t take itself too seriously but is also not so bad that its murder to your ears.
The Dead Island games take place on popular tourst resorts based in Papua New Guinea, and as a result, there is a mix of Australian, American, New Zealand and other hybrid/garbled accents. Purna’s voice in particular irritates me. She sounds like an Australian making fun of her own accent, or as though she’s in an Ozploitation film from the 1970s or 80s.
The sound effects in Riptide serve their purpose, but don’t stand out as spectacular in any way. Guns sound as you would imagine, knives cleave through arms and necks with a satisfying “shiiiing!”, and the zombies themselves sound different depending on their appearance and behaviour. Some growl and gurgle on blood and saliva whilst creeping forward slowly, while others scream frantically as they sprint towards you with murderous intent.
The soundtrack in the game is pretty weak, but it’s not due to a lack of effort from Techland. It’s simply not one of their strengths. Similar to the Elder Scrolls games, Dead Island’s soundtrack is more incidental, in that it’s slow when the action is slow, and ramps up when all hell breaks loose. Sam B’s ‘Who Do You Voodoo B***h? ’ has a follow up single called ‘No Room in Hell’, which is actually pretty good. I for one would have enjoyed if the game soundtrack was more rap-focused (instrumental, however) than the drab arrangements that ended up in the final game.
- More weapon types and mods for the experienced Dead Island player.
- Less fetch quests than in Dead Island 1.
- Multiplayer is still a blast.
- Texture pop-ups.
- Annoying characters.
- Occasional bug or glitch.
Dead Island: Riptide may still have a few problems like its predecessor, but its still hours and hours of fun, particularly in multiplayer. Playing to the different character’s strengths makes for a different play experience each time, if you can stand the exaggerated Australian accents.
Score – 7/10