GET YOUR GAME ON: ‘Dead Island: Riptide’ fun, but flawed

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First Posted: 4/30/2013

The zombie slaying survivors of 2011’s “Dead Island” game are back in “Dead Island: Riptide.” They have overcome the zombie hordes from the tropical island setting of the first game to find themselves in a even worse situation. Just as they thought they were safe on a military boat traveling away from Banoi, their ship was hit by a giant monsoon, forcing them to fight for their lives against the elements and high waves.

This time, they are stranded on a once beautiful island chain that has been wrecked by storm damage – and the zombie apocalypse. Instead of the resort setting of the first game, the environments are move varied, including a city and jungle setting. The only problem is a lot of the map has been flooded with rain, so boating is your most reliable form of travel.

If you are unfamiliar with “Dead Island,” it is a first-person zombie survival game where you and a friend could dismember the undead with a major emphasis on melee combat. For the most part, “Riptide” is similar to its predecessor in every way except that it adds some new characters, new zombies, boats, and a new setting. This is not so bad because the first game was a lot of fun, even thought it had its share of bugs.

The developer didn’t really fix any of the major bugs, but it did make the RPG elements more interesting. Now you can upgrade weapons, loot corpses, and even upgrade your zombie slaying skills. I found it very exciting to hear the level-up noise because I knew it was a chance to decide what skills or inventory spots I could choose from. A cool gameplay element I did enjoy was the ability to target specific spots on your enemies; now you can target different parts of the body, making it possible to chop off arms, legs, and heads.

Just like the first game, the story is pretty much nonexistent; the story that it does have is shown in cutscenes that aren’t very good. The voice acting isn’t great, and there are some graphical hiccups, but it doesn’t take away from what is important about the game – the action. It does suffer from the same bugs the first game had and more – this time it has some substantial frame rate issues, especially when there are a lot of characters on the screen. It does make for some very undesirable frustration, but it shouldn’t deter you from trying it at all. “Riptide” is a fun zombie killing action game, and it handles well for the most part – just not all the time.

The action-packed four player co-op of the first game is back with some added upgrades. A cool feature is the enemies’ power scales as you level, so if you are a high level and you join your friend’s game, you will be fighting zombies at your level and your friends will be fighting at their own level. Whether you go it alone or with friends, the amount of content is pretty good; there a lot of new skills to earn and places to explore. The best part is hacking up zombies, which is very satisfying. Another cool thing is the “Dead Zones,” which are basically dungeons with boss battles at the end. These Dead Zones add a lot of extra things to explore, and your quest log will have you playing side missions for a long while.

Overall, “Dead Island: Riptide” is an enjoyable and visceral zombie hacking experience, but it does have its flaws. If you where a fan of the first “Dead Island” game, then you should pick it up to see what happens to the survivors. If you are new to series and the idea of a zombie RPG sounds appealing, check it out. I enjoyed my time with it because of the satisfying zombie dismemberment and fun co-op, but it doesn’t have much more to offer someone looking for a really polished zombie action game.

-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at rvanderveken