Dead Island: Riptide Review
How do I even start talking about Dead Island: Riptide? We could start with Dead Island I think. The original game had a lot of great ideas mixed in with some new game jank. Dead Island was a new take on the open world genre, and while it had a lot of technical issues it also brought with it a certain charm. That charm worked the first time around, and it was a good starting point for the game series. Dead Island: Riptide feels more like an expansion pack that Deep Silver has dubbed a sequel and charged full price for.
This is the First Look that Trevor and Jimmy did for Dead Island: Riptide. All footage is from the Prologue.
There are a lot of technical issues in this game including points where the game slows down, textures popping in-and-out, sound issues, etc. These were all issues that first game had, but with an open world game it is an huge task to fix every little thing and these are all issues you would think would be fixed in a "sequel." Well, I'm here to tell you that Dead Island: Riptide is no sequel to the original game. Riptide is an expansion pack with a full game price. This may be one of the laziest examples of a "sequel" that I have ever seen as most of this game is a copy and paste job, especially with the sound as most of the voice work comes from the first game (excluding cutscenes and the new character). A lot of the environments are the same as the first game despite being on a different island. My favorite part of the game was the prologue, and that's because it was different and they actually gave you some guns to have fun with in the first hour. After that, they immediately throw you back on the island which felt like the confined jungle portion of the first game. For an open world game, Riptide didn't feel like a vast world to explore and become more of a linear experience. It must have a good story then, right?
The story for Dead Island: Riptide might as well not even be in the game. It's your typical B-movie storyline where our protagonists are trying to figure out who started the outbreak, and why certain people are immune to the virus. You get some of those answers, but between the bad dialogue and the horrible cutscenes it's hard to care. It's also really weird that most of the characters are always cross-eyed (boss-eyed for our British fans). It's also really hard to care about the characters and what they are doing when almost EVERY single main quest is a fetch quest. If the zombie apocalypse is full of delivery drivers, then we'll all be in good shape. Even the side quests are all mostly fetching one thing after another, and they do nothing to make these quests interesting in the least. They attempted with a couple of them. For example: There is a quest where you meet a movie director that was filming when the outbreak happened, and he needs you to go get his equipment back from his movie set. The movie was a horror movie and they had a great opportunity to make an elaborate set with some legitimate scary moment, but instead you end up in a shack with a couple zombies strewn about and no effort whatsoever. They also tried to get you to care about one of the side characters as you go looking for a man's wife. You find the family home, and then the sad background music hits while you fight zombies throughout that house and find out she went to her parents' house. You end up at that house, and find the family partially burned to death and dead from smoke inhalation with no sign of the man's wife or kids. You go back and let him know what you found and say you will keep searching for them, but you don't and nothing comes of this at all. It's half-assed, and just because you want to play some sad music doesn't make me want to care about this ancillary character. It's a shame, because as we have learned with The Walking Dead the zombie apocalypse can bring us some amazingly human stories in a world that is becoming inhuman.
They didn't add a lot of new things into the game. One of the few things that they did was a fifth character named John who has a military background and is basically Wolverine. He is an expert at hand-to-hand combat so they added claw weapons that I will admit are pretty fun and awesome to play around with. The core gameplay remains unchanged from the first game, and that is one of the biggest disappointments. The first game had some cool ideas including the Analog controls for the combat. This is the way I played for the first half of the game and you basically swing the right stick in the direction you want the weapon to swing which lets you pinpoint exactly what part of the body to hit. This allows you to cut off limbs if you're fighting with a sharp weapon or break bones if you're using a blunt weapon. The problem is that they never explain this control scheme or give a tutorial, and they hide it in the game's menu for very few people to find it. It's a great idea, but it needed some fine tuning and a little more explanation which is what we didn't get here. One of the other things they added was trying to make your base of operations mean more. Everyone of your teammates give you missions specific to them (all fetch quests), and when you complete them you gain the normal experience and weapon reward but you also level up that character's weapon. The reason for this is the new "Horde" sequences where you can put up fences and turrets to help you defend the base from zombies, and while it would seem like a lot of fun it's really not. What actually happens it that you get overrun by a bunch of zombies who either kill one of your teammates which will fail the mission, or they overrun you and you die several times making it just a tedious adventure. These sequences happen several different times in the story, and just aren't fun to play.
- More Dead Island
- Fun Leveling and RPG Elements
- Interesting and Fun Weapons
- More Dead Island
- Pretty Much Non-Existent Story
- Paying $50 For An Expansion
While the first game had its own unique charm along with its issues, Dead Island: Riptide does nothing to try to fix any problems and is an expansion to the first one. This is a game that should have been released as downloadable content for $20 for those that really wanted their Dead Island fix. This is pretty much inexcusable and it's obviously a cash-in for Deep Silver before the next round of consoles are released. With that said, I think the game can still be fun and if you really want to play some more Dead Island then you should pick this up. I would wait for the price tag to go down a bit first though.
This review is based on the retail copy of Dead Island: Riptide for Xbox 360 obtained by the reviewer.