Dead Island: Riptide Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC
Dead Island: Riptide Box Art
System: PC, PS3*, Xbox 360
Dev: Techland
Pub: Deep Silver
Release: April 23, 2013
Players: 1-4
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Use of Drugs
Keep Calm And Zombie On
by Joshua Bruce

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.

Dead Island: Riptide Screenshot

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.

Dead Island: Riptide Screenshot

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.

Dead Island: Riptide Screenshot

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.

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