Keep Calm And Zombie On
Dead Island: Riptide is the follow-up to last year’s sleeper hit, Dead Island. Even though the first game has several issues, it still manages to be fun. It is an open-world-zombie bonanza with a little bit of character development thrown in. It works pretty well for a first outing. Unfortunately, most of the bugs from the first game are still intact in the sequel and there is little progression to make the game more fun. Needless to say, I am a little disappointed.
The story picks up right where we left off – escaping Banoi and landing our helicopter on the deck of a mysterious military ship. Nothing could be worse than the island, right? Wrong. After a brief story sequence on the deck of the ship, you are launched into another fight for your life.
This prologue is one of the best parts of the game. You have to escape the lower decks of the ship with zombies at every turn, twisting your way through the interior until you emerge onto the deck to fight off a final wave. The fast-action opening ends with a race to the bridge to avert the ship from crashing into another island. Sadly, the game does not keep this pace. Once you make landfall, the action slows to an agonizing crawl.
Graphically, Riptide has the same issues as its predecessor. The first Dead Island has several clipping and frame-rate issues, especially when several zombies are attempting to peel your face off. Dead Island: Riptide doesn’t address any of these problems and it is less of a game because of that.
The visual quality of the game remains stagnant as well. Though the layout is different, the environment looks largely the same, and in-game items look to have been borrowed from the first installment. Far Cry 3 and Tomb Raider exemplify how to create a game with an island environment. Techland does itself no favors by putting Dead Island: Riptide in a position to be compared.
Riptide features passable graphics that can look excellent from a distance. Cutscenes, unfortunately, accentuate the graphical flaws by being choppy and annoying. Character models are almost identical to the first game, and some animations are just downright atrocious.
For example, at some point you may find yourself looking down at zombies from some sort of platform. If you find yourself in this situation, you will be given the option to jump-attack one of the zombies from above. If you decide to do this, get ready to laugh, because what you will see is nothing short of the most horrendous character animation in recent history. Mediocre graphics aside, there are more important things to talk about, like the control scheme.
The controls feel stiff, clunky, and unresponsive. Several times, I had serious issues getting my character to execute simple commands such as climbing a ladder or opening a door. The worst part of the control scheme has to be the weapon selection. Using the trigger/thumbstick combo to select a weapon during combat is crucial, but the mechanic just doesn’t function well in Riptide. Any time I went into combat, I made sure that I had the weapon I wanted pre-selected to avoid any in-battle blunders.
However, half the time I didn’t even need my regular weapons; I just used my kick to take out those undead foes. Combining a standard kick with the treasured head-stomp creates a very satisfying zombie disposal method. My favorite method of boot-to-face annihilation in Dead Island: Riptide is the super-kick. To do this, you sprint towards a zombie and hit the kick button just as you reach it. What you get is an instant flying ragdoll zombie, and it’s hilarious.
Dead Island: Riptide has the dumbest zombies ever featured in a video game. The AI in this game doesn’t seem to have a pattern as to how or why it attacks you. A zombie could come screaming at you from across the map, or one could stand right next to you without a care in the world. Most zombies will take notice if you move around a bit, but it’s too inconsistent to count on.
A couple of times, I noticed a zombie taking the scenic route to get to me when a shorter path was easily available. Even when a zombie has the brains to know how to take the quickest route, an invisible wall would occasionally block it. Still, throughout the campaign, zombies keep coming after you. That’s what counts. A lot can be forgiven if you have an endless supply of zombies to kill.
In short, Dead Island: Riptide is a bit of a disappointment. With the relative success of the first game, Riptide was poised to do great things if it could solve the issues of Dead Island. Sadly, instead of fixing issues, Techland added new ones. Riptide does manage to pull off some fun zombie-killing action at points, but as a whole, the game fails to deliver the full experience.
In the end, Dead Island: Riptide is much like the zombies it portrays. It meanders about, bumping into everything, and occasionally it finds some meat to sink its teeth into. Then it slowly moves on to find the next scarce meal. Missing some parts, it shambles around, a mindless, and feral creation. Too bad.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.0 Graphics
Mostly mediocre, the visuals of this game lack punch and contrast. There are several screen-tearing and frame-rate issues. 3.3 Control
Controls are okay, but at some points it feels like you are battling your controller more than the undead. 3.7 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Fairly well-done voice acting for the main characters, otherwise the sounds of Riptide are decidedly average. 3.5 Play Value
Riptide is somewhat fun to play, but it could have been so much more than the original Dead Island. I don’t see myself going back for seconds any time soon. 3.5 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend|
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid||2.5 – 2.9 = Average||3.5 – 3.9 = Good||4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy|
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor||3.0 – 3.4 = Fair||4.0 – 4.4 = Great||5.0 = The Best|