When Dead Island was released in 2011, it was in a league of its own, a first person view open world survival-horror game. Players chose one of four characters, each with different skills, and completed quest after quest to finally escape the island. In order to survive you had to level up your skills, find and modify weapons, and at times, team up to take down difficult bosses. The game was not perfect, but it was so different and fun, that its flaws were mostly looked over. Deep Silver has now released the sequel to Dead Island, Dead Island Riptide and hope to build on its success, using a new location, a deeper story, and even a new character to control.
Dead Island Riptide does a great job filling you in on the story from the first game, four survivors are immune to the virus that seems to be turning people into “infected”, or what most of us call, zombies. After a narrow escape by way of helicopter off the island of Banoi, the survivors land on a carrier in the middle of the sea and encounter the ADF. The ADF arrests the survivors, and then sedates them. The survivors come to, and realize the ship is in shambles. The virus has made its way onto the ship and now the survivors fight their way to the deck to escape. The carrier ends up crashing into an island and the survivors are awakened by the islanders. This is where the adventure begins, you are on a new island, with infected, and a new adventure in the struggle to survive and find a way off the island before it is nuked by the ADF. The new island of Palanai has its own story to tell other than the infected ravaging its towns. Harlow is your main contact at first and she gets you started on the quest to get off the island.
Riptide’s environment looks really similar to the first’s island of Banoi. The character models are still awkward looking, especially facial features, and the voice acting is terrible at times. The characters personalities and personal stories have little to do with your choice of survivor for your quest, even with the addition of a new survivor John Morgan. The menu style, inventory set up, skill trees, and overall look of the game have not been changed. Skills are set up into three different skill trees, Fury, Combat, and Survival. The Quest screen is broken down into Main Quest, Side Quests, and Continuous Quests, Side quests usually having the longest section due to the amount of them. There is a Team section in your menu screen that allows you to start quests from different survivors, locals, and shops which makes leveling up your support much easier.
Online cooperative play is a huge focus for Dead Island Riptide because of the fact that this game is made to be played with a friend or three. Finding lobbies to jump into for co-op is much more seamless than in the first game, including much better matchmaking and the ability to jump into your friend’s game without worrying about your level. Even if your friend is level 4 and you’re level 58, when you are fighting zombies you are getting proper challenge and experience. Friends and other players can also randomly drop in and out of your game without altering your story.
Dead Island Riptide’s gameplay has not changed much. It is still in first person, with the addition of a jump down kick when you have higher ground. If you played Dead Island, you have the opportunity to import your character from the first to get a head start in your skill tree. You can also choose a new character, each specializing in a certain type of weapon or skill. Players still have the ability to have throwing and melee weapons, with a huge focus on modification. A big disappointment with Riptide is the variety in weapon mods. Most of the modified weapons from the first installment are present, with very little new added for Riptide. It is still insanely fun to create mods and use them, but I was excited to see the kind of new creations would be found in this game, and there just wasn’t much. Not to take away from the fun it is to run around and slash, shoot, and blow up zombies, but it is a definite miss to not add a whole new line up of weapon mods.
A great addition to Riptide are the Dead Zones, which serve as mini-dungeons to run through for some hard to find mod items, and a touch boss to take down. There are a total of thirteen different bosses you can defeat in order to conquer the Dead Zones. These are tough, so you definitely want to be ready with weapons, explosives, and health packs.
Dead Island Riptide is not a huge leap forward or improvement of the first installment, but the same fun is still there. Playing co-op with up to three friends and the huge amount of side quests give you plenty of fun. The story holds very little importance, the character models and graphics will not really impress but the game succeeds where it counts. The many ways to obliterate the infected and open world really make it difficult to stop playing. Dead Island Riptide will keep you and your friends entertained but it definitely needs an upgrade for the next installment, if there will be one. The novelty wears off rather quickly making the flaws from the first reappear and remain at times frustrating. I recommend Dead Island Riptide for anyone that loves to play online co-op and run around and slash zombies.
Dead Island Riptide is now available for your zombie slashing pleasure for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.