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Dead Island Riptide

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Once more into the breach my fellow geeks! We have zombies monsters to slay! After Dead Island dropped in 2011, zombie killing fans were left wanting more, much more. Well here we are, stuck in another island hell hole fighting off hordes of undead monstrosities and were we given the sequel we needed, the sequel we deserved?

Dead Island: Riptide is a psuedo-sequel to Dead Island. You could call it an expansion pack pretty much, a huge expansion at that. The same four heroes from the first are back with a new immune survivor in the mix. The game starts off exactly after the end of the first, with our motley crew escaping the infested Banoi. The gang ends up on a ship in the ocean where they find more hardship. Abducted, they become the focus of experiment after experiment. As with all things science, an outbreak occurs and the ship crashes. Not back on Banoi thankfully but an all new section of the cluster, Palanai.

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Palanai is its own creature, separate from Banoi but yet strikingly familiar. It’s a lush tropical paradise but so was Banoi and I believe that’s what starts the downfall of the game. Riptide feels much like its predecessor in every way, the good with the bad. Every thing that was wrong with the original is still wrong in Riptide. We’re talking the poor, stuttering frame rate, the stilted “I got a load in my pants” walk of your chosen avatar, the clipped sound and horribly repetitive fetch quests. It’s almost like Techland didn’t listen to anything the fans said and kept on with business as usual. And they brought along some new glitches to irritate fans.

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Did you rely on the quest marker to lead you to the next destination, to help you bypass the throngs of brain hungry foes? Yeah, you can forget that bad boy in Riptide – it’s fundamentally broken. It works when it wants to, which isn’t very often mind you. Routinely you will become over run and murdered by the Left 4 Dead type hordes, by the constantly respawning zombies, by the ninja-like wretches that will appear behind you. It is pure frustration on an epic scale. Something I never encountered in DI but are present everywhere are insta-killing enemies. They throw one tiny knife and full health bar or not, BAM! you’re dead. Utter rubbish.

Not all is bad in Riptide, there are some improvements to be found, some additions to make it stand out. Something I thoroughly enjoyed was the hub defense for the various hideouts the gang holes up in. The zombies will swarm in from a scattering of weak spots in an attempt to swallow up the survivors. Each time I played, I had a blast laying down traps, rushing to a friend’s aid and cutting off little pieces of the horde. That brings up another new and fun item, mines and bombs. It’s delicious fun to drop a mine and watch some schmuck walk into it, set it off and then burn down to the ground. Fun, fun!

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Beyond the usual quests, the team now has a set of fetch quests to achieve. Grabbing x number of whatever and bringing them back to a survivor grants newer weapons, cheaper prices at stores and more helpful friends during the hub defense. I handed off 4 blankets to one guy and next thing I knew, he was wielding a monstrous, multi-edged zombie slicer instead of his puny bat.

Techland introduced a few new monsters to the core set. The biggest pain is the Screamer, a monster that..screams. The scream is so deafening that your hero is instantly incapacitated by it, usually knocked to the ground. The Wrestler is a slow and deadly hulk of a monster that can kill in one blow. Also new to the game is the Dead Zones. Dead Zones are chock full of monsters as well as a boss monster. You got to be good and you got to be tough to clear the zone, which includes killing the tough as nails boss. It’s worth it though as Dead Zones usually have something rare for you tucked away in them.

I’m not here to say Riptide is utter trash because it’s not. It does have some serious issues that were never fixed from the first game and it has some new issues that impact gameplay but if you can look past them you’ll find a competent zombie slasher with real potential. There is plenty of real fun to be had in crafting new weapons and busting monster skulls with them. Each kill is a satisfying kill, especially when you’re surrounded by more ready to die – again.

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I give Dead Island: Riptide a 6 out of 10 and would gladly bump that up if they can issue a patch to fix some of the technical problems. Hopefully Techland goes ahead with a full-blown sequel and fixes the complaints.

Many thanks to out pals at Deep Silver for the Xbox 360 review copy! May I never hear “I gotta find another way in” again!

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