Review: Dead Island Riptide (PS3)
Title: Dead Island Riptide
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (2810 MB)
Release Date: April 23, 2013
Publisher: Deep Silver
Price: $49.99 (Special Edition) / $79.99 (Rigor Mortis Edition)
ESRB Rating: M
Dead Island Riptide is also available on Xbox 360 and PC.
The PlayStation 3 version was used for this review.
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 316 of the podcast.
Dead Island Riptide picks up right where the first game left off, unfortunately your group’s rescue is short lived as you’re quickly shipwrecked on another island in the Banoi archipelago. Right from the start, you can import your character from the original Dead Island which is a sweet little bonus. No need to slog through hours of grinding and leveling up but it also makes the game instantly harder as all of the zombies automatically level up with you just like in the original.
If you played the first game you’ll feel right at home here. If you haven’t, well…. I hope you’re a quick study. See, the developers assume you have experience with their world and skip over tutorials or hints about crafting and repairing weapons (a somewhat critical detail). This was among the first things that made the Dead Island Riptide feel more like an expansion pack than a full on standalone game.
It’s a lot more of the same here. You’re in a resort setting, so weapons are a little more scarce than your average third person action game, especially the guns. Combat tends to be more up close and personal, putting you in more danger but also giving you some very visceral and satisfying kills. One of the new additions is another playable character, John Morgan. He’s more of a hand to hand combat expert so you can really dive in and get messy with him if that’s you style.
Another new addition is the Base Defense which is sort of a limited horde mode. You’ll run around your home base putting up fences (while the NPC’s stand around and watch) and then have to fight back a few waves of zombies. An nice diversion, but even the upgrades to the fences can’t make this an interesting addition after the first or second time.
New zombies also make an appearance, some will disorient you, some freeze you in place. Again, interesting ideas but nothing earth shattering. Boats are one of the more important additions to the game since the new island has a lot of rivers. They work pretty well and are an easy way to cut across the island but you’ll need to be aware of the new “Drowner” zombies which will come to life and grab onto your boat, eventually climbing aboard and attacking you. A quick jolt on the throttle will almost always shake them loose though, so not much to worry about there.
Really, the whole point of the game is to craft crazy weapons and tear through the zombie masses and the game truly excels at that. Leveling up and picking your path on your character’s skill tree are a big part of the draw and it all works just as well here as it did in the original game.
While the game looks a bit sharper this time around, many of the issues that plagued Dead Island are still here. Trouble with the framerate, screen tearing etc. and while it’s not quite as bad, it’s still painfully present. When transitioning to a new level, the texture pop-in is atrocious, quick as it may be.
The new “dynamic” weather system is anything but. You’ll go from a bright, sunny day to a monsoon in the blink of an eye. Less than a minute later and it’s instantly sunny again. While the rain does cut down your visibility a bit, it doesn’t add much to the game and the instant on/off of the changing weather just takes you out of the experience.
Nothing new to report here either for veterans of Dead Island. The voice acting is the same, for better or worse and NPC’s tend to have very little dialogue which becomes repetitive much too quickly. The ambient sounds of the jungle are well placed in the surround sound and the disturbing nature of the bigger zombie’s screams across the island set a perfect mood.
Really, the heart of the game is the multiplayer. This series is meant to be played by a group of people and it’s a much more enjoyable experience that way. While single player is a fine option, it’s definitely much harder and not really the point of the game.
Thankfully, the vast majority of the issues that nearly destroyed multiplayer in Dead Island have been eliminated here. Dropping in and out of other games is a simple and pretty painless process. You can set your game to open or closed to just your Friends List and I didn’t have a single lockup or dropped connection the entire time I played.
Even with all the little additions, this doesn’t feel like much more than an expansion pack for the original game. The story is largely forgettable and the whole game quickly devolves into the grinding quests of the original. To say then that this is a bad game would be entirely missing the point. Modifying your weapons into crazy instruments of death and tearing through hordes of zombies with a bunch of friends is still a blast. Just don’t go in expecting that Techland has reinvented the wheel here and you’ll be fine.