Dead Island: Riptide Review
Dead Island: Riptide is more of the same, and if you played and enjoyed the last one then in all likelihood that’s all you want to hear from this review.
If you put any amount of time into the original then chances are you already know the praise and criticism that’s about to follow.
That’s not to say there aren’t changes – improvements even – but Dead Island: Riptide won’t appeal to those who were left feeling cold by the original.
Graphically there’s enough of a cleanup job to make Dead Island: Riptide a little more presentable. Even on PS3 it’s not quite as murky, and no longer like peering at paradise through a jar of Vaseline.
While the engine itself has had a lot of work done to it, there are still some of the same issues arising. Enemies glitching through environments, zombies flailing as they struggle to compete with the physics system and that same practically non-existent lip-syncing.
But then that was always part of Dead Island’s charm.
There’s a weird hilarity to its bugs; Dead Island is a game that’s happy to just be a game.
It’s in the zombies that trip over and kill themselves, the uppercuts that inexplicably result in a meatbags skewered to walls or the simpering impossibility of your character’s flailing legs as you struggle to walk.
It’s the fact that John Morgan can flying kick his way through the entire game and feel powerful at the same time.
For Fans Of Dead Island
Dead Island: Riptide is more of the same, but that’s why gamers will love it. It’s just another opportunity to exist in this sub-par universe simply to batter things for the sake of battering things.
And since weapons don’t get quite as easily broken this time you won’t be constantly scrounging for the next best thing after your favourite wooden paddle has snapped.
Not that you’ll need it with Captain John Morgan’s flying kick. That thing is in equal measure hilarious and overpowered.
Level design has improved remarkably, too. Though much of the game looks like the very same jungles of Banoi, it’s in the variety of their design that Dead Island: Riptide feels like a much more accomplished game than its predecessor.
The multi-tiered shantytown of Halai, for example, contrasts wildly with the swampland of Makala, and this same variety filters throughout.
Once arriving at Henderson things begin to feel a little repetitive since the art style will remain largely the same from then on, but Henderson itself is a much more intriguing city than Moresby ever was.
It’s hard to make a jungle seem visually different and, to its credit, Techland has done a great job bringing a more visually interesting world to life.
It’s still plagued with many of the same problems, of course. Moving your character still feels like controlling a deeply violent child who can swing a knife but hasn’t yet learnt to walk.
Similarly, certain attacks that can be activated don’t always land. Never through any fault of your own, or even Dead Island: Riptide’s RPG sensibilities, these attacks fail because of the wild reactions that the game suffers from.
Issues With Dead Island: Riptide’s Controls
As powerful as John Morgan’s flying kick is, it doesn’t mean it’s reliable. Getting it to work in a pinch relies on as much faith as it does controller dexterity.
His uppercut, too, misses more often than it hits simply because the system underpinning the whole game doesn’t always react in the way that you want it to.
The same is true for the other characters, and if you’re hoping this particular issue had been resolved, it has not.
The quests you undertake haven’t really been improved either. It’s a criticism of numerous RPGs these days all too happy to rip their quest lines from MMOs – as if that’s a smart thing to do.
Needless to say, if you were sick of an NPC you needed something from telling you they will only give you said item once you’ve gone out into the world, killed a bunch of zombies and found however many of the items they needed first then, well… you’re going to get sick of it all over again.
We’re not asking for an overhaul of the tried-and-tested fetch quest – it’s a tedious RPG staple these days, after all – but it would’ve helped to make the world feel a little more credible if the solution to at least one quest was a little different.
The New Defense Missions
The defensive sections are fairly entertaining though, albeit they are ultimately unnecessary.
These highly scripted events pit you and your allies up against a horde of enemies, the conclusion of which obviously pitting you against a new monstrosity of some kind.
You get to set up barricades, mines and gas cannisters and the like but it’s all for naught in the end. It doesn’t matter a dot how well laid your plan is, it invariably results in a mad free-for-all as you race from ally to ally ensuring each zombie is decapitated.
You probably won’t be surprised to hear that John Morgan’s flying kick is particularly useful here though.
The paradise location soon begins to feel its limits, too. It doesn’t help that we’ve already explored the likes of Banoi and Far Cry 3’s tropical island from top to bottom, meaning another romp through a similar world has, unfortunately, lost its sheen somewhat.
It isn’t helped much by a story that is barely worth paying attention to, voice actors that are irritable and scripting that is borderline b-movie.
Content-wise this is more than worth it’s full priced retail release however, but a lot of assets are reused – whether from the original or repeated themselves within the game – so you will revisit locations of uncanny similarity.
On the whole there’s more than enough hours worth to feel you’ve got your monies worth. Admittedly it feels more like a mission pack than a full sequel – which likely explains the convenient added sub-title – but pound per hour, Dead Island: Riptide holds its own.
Ultimately, the amount of fun you get out of Dead Island: Riptide will come right down to two important factors: whether you enjoyed the original, and whether you have three other friends to join you in the jungle.
Version tested: PS3