Dead Island: Riptide: Slicing Zombies Never Gets Old [2ND OPINION]

By Luke Caulfield , Updated Apr 28, 2013 07:47 PM EDT

First off, let it be known that despite that it continues the story of the first game, Dead Island: Riptide is not, I repeat NOT, a sequel. Now, with roughly two and a half years of development time between this and the first Dead Island title's release, it arguably could have been, but it's not. Riptide basically functions as an expansion - Dead Island 1.5, adding in a few new things here and there, but not nearly enough to be considered a sequel.

The game starts off almost directly after the events of the first, the survivors of the Banoi resort and a few folks they picked up along the way managing to make their way to a military battleship off the coast of the island. The survivors are taken captive by the local military, but it's not long before the zombies make their way aboard the vessel, and the game truly begins. What follows is your basic tutorial that serves to either introduce new players, or re-accquaint old hats to the melee blood orgy, and players are eventually washed up upon the shores of the new setting of Palani. Not as beautiful as the resort island of Banoi, but far more dangerous.

Through Riptide's development, Deep Silver was eager to show off Palanai's flooded environements, hoping that it would change up the game a bit, which it does, but not necessarily for the better. Walking through water will only take you so far, so inevitably, you will have to go by boat. Once you captain your first leaky vessel that could barely be called a boat, steering is actually a bit difficult, made even worse by the consistent amount of drowners and floaters who decide to board, uninvited. When this happens, you can either gas it, hoping they'll lose their grip, or you wait for them to finish boarding, rush you, at which point you can kick them off. Frustrated at navigation, you might be tempted to abandaon ship, but be forewarned, as water combat isn't any easier once you're off the boat. Various zombies, be they infected, walkers, and drowners alike will be able to sprint through chest high water like Usain Bolt, while you're slogging along doing your best to muster an attempt at escape.

Riptide isn't meant for the novice, though newcomer John Morgan will certainly make things a bit easier. His particular skillset comes with a range of combat skils that will give players a bit more breathing room, like decreased stamina cost, improved weapon durability and others. Players can pre-select their choice of skills from a selection of different standards, or dump points into whatever they see fit if you're more about customization. Despite this, the game is still difficult, and it's highly advised that you import your character from the first game, provided you have one. You'll come across new and difficult enemy types fairly early on in the game, encountering the infected, drowners, floaters, thugs, and a butcher within roughly the first hour, depending on which quests you decide to take from the survivors in the game's first homebase, Paradise Survival Camp. They aren't introduced as they were in the first game, which takes away some of the drama. Players will instead have to rely on what little tips are provided in Dr. Kessler's Casebook, or just hope for the best. Boss zombies are particularly brutal, as they come equipped with stats like health regeneration upon socring each successful hit. Just wait 'til you meet the Ogre...

Whether the result of a glitch, or an attempt just to make the game more difficult, zombies do have a tendency to not only swarm, but sometimes appear out of nowhere, especially after you thought you just cleared an entire area. As a result, you'll go through health packs fairly quickly, and find yourself scavenging the area for candy bars or energy drinks just to keep your health going. Co-op makes things a bit easier, but it'll be difficult to find people to play with, as the game still suffers from the same problem as the first Dead Island.

Admittedly, I realize that many of the missions in both Dead Island games were wholly repetitive, but due to all the zombie bashing, and grinding for supplies to make new and better weapons, I never got tired of them. But given a great many other reviews, I'm fairly alone in this, so again, fair warning. As cool as it is slicing chunks out of zombies with Wolverine claws, I'm sure people will grow tired of it a lot quicker than I.

Ultimately, Riptide is more of the same mindless melee gameplay offered in the first Dead Island, and that's all you'll find here. Heavy on the bloddletting, light on the plot. The additions of a new character and some switches in combat and navigation run into problems that ultimately negate the new experience they provide, so unless you truly loved the first game, take a pass.

Dead Island: Riptide is middle of the road fun, but at least they can still make a helluva trailer. Check it out below.

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