I’ll admit that I was late to the party when Dead Island first came out, but when I finally did get round to it I ended up playing for absolutely ages. There was something about it that just got me hooked. When Riptide was announced I was looking forward to returning to the game and seeing what Deep Silver would do to improve on the original, unfortunately it seems like not much has changed.
At the end of Dead Island our group of immune Zombie Bashers had escaped the island of Banoi via Helicopter and all seemed well as they manage to land on a Navy vessel to get them back to safety, at least that’s what they thought. I won’t talk about the story too much although to be perfectly honest it isn’t the greatest story told anyway.
You can import your character from Dead Island if you’ve kept the save from your previous game, or start afresh with a different player. There is one addition to the group of survivors, an ex soldier who is pretty useful with his hands. If you do import a character you will bring across their skills and level, but you won’t be seeing any blueprints or weapons. It’s understandable that you may have left weapons behind but surely you would be able to remember some of the blueprints you had used before? Instead you are left to look around for these all over again, which is a bit of a pain. If you decide to start as a new character you will spend lots of time in the menus building up your skill trees as you level up, as in the original game your enemies level with you so the game will always give you a challenge.
Once you get past the really bland first chapter you’ll be able to get your teeth into the game and spend time exploring the island. There is still plenty of driving to be done but thanks to the jungle setting you will get to spend time on motor boats mowing down enemies with the speed boost button as you go along. It’s a bit of a shame that the mini map becomes completely useless while driving a boat though, the action is broken as you continuously pause the game to check the full map to make sure you are going the right way. Getting around the island by vehicle is one of the quickest ways to get about and as you progress through the game you will gain access to fast travel locations if you don’t fancy fighting your way through to a certain location.
You’ll spend hours and hours wading through (literally, if you are dragged into a river by a zombie) the different quests available to you, although it’s a pity that there is little variation in them. The biggest addition is the section where you need to protect an area and its survivors against a horde of zombies. It can get quite challenging and it’s great fun, especially when you are teamed up with your mates in co-op mode.
There are plenty of crates and dead zombies to loot along the way, which is great for paying towards repairing and maintaining your weapons, but Dead Island Riptide’s strongest plus point is the co-operative play, whether it is with a set of people you know or even if you gather up nearby random players along the way. The AI isn’t especially helpful when taking on the hordes and while you are out in the jungle it’s always nice to have some partners to watch your back.
If you are going to survive wave after wave of zombies then you are going to need some decent weapons and there are plenty to go around in the game. As you search the island you’ll come across loads of pre-made items but it’s all about finding those blueprints so that you can modify your weapon to cause the ultimate destruction. Whether it’s the classic baseball bat with nails, a really powerful sickle for chopping off limbs, or just a decent shotgun, each weapon will prove useful at some point so its good that there are more than enough slots for you to hold different types.
The game seems to have carried over many of the bugs from Dead Island, for instance; during a cut scene I was informed that I had been killed, but the scene kept playing and there was no way to stop it apart from going back to the dashboard. I’ve lost audio, visuals, got stuck mid world while jumping and this is all just playing on my own. These were all things I remember happening to me in the original too so it’s quite frustrating to see that these haven’t been resolved.
Thankfully the game still looks great, although it does feel like some of the areas of Palanai have just been cut and pasted to different locations. I particularly love the slow motion sections as arms and legs are cut off, the voice acting is still terrible and navigating the menus can feel quite cumbersome at times.
Dead Island Riptide is a complete mixed bag for me, there are times where I love the game; playing in a team of four wiping out zombie after zombie & creating weapons that will take down the toughest of enemies and then there are all the problems which make me want to just put the game in the back of my cupboard. The truly awful voice acting and the fact that the game is almost exactly the same game as the original despite the brilliant opportunity Techland had to make this an even better game.
If you were the sort of person who played all the way through Dead Island and can’t wait to get through Riptide then you will probably love this, it’s the same if you have a gang of friends who fancy playing this in co-op. If you are on the fence though I would wait for a price drop.