If you haven’t played the first game don’t be alarmed, when you jump into the game after the character selection, Purna, one of the protagonists, gives a brief rundown of the events that occurred in the first game. Dead Island: Riptide takes place straight after Dead Island, with our heroes from the first game landing on a military ship in a helicopter. They are welcomed by ADF Colonel Sam Hardy, Civilian VIP Frank Serpo (the obvious antagonist), armed soldiers and handcuffs. Serpo orders the 4 immune heroes to be knocked out and tested on. The 4 heroes wake up to discover they’re in a holding area after being drugged and see an unfamiliar face amongst them. This new character is John Morgan, a fifth immune person that gets an extremely brief introduction before the others pass out from the sedatives still passing through their bodies.
Upon waking up a second time, you’re the only person in the area and the ship has gone to hell as zombies have somehow gotten on board. The ship ends up crashing and you’re shipwrecked. Finally being woken up for a third time on the beach on an island, no, not Banoi, but the other zombie infested island of Palanai (I guess third time isn’t the charm…). Thus begins your either solo or co-op adventures around this unforgiving island.
Whilst playing Dead Island: Riptide, the problems with gameplay that I had with Dead Island, seemed to not have been addressed whatsoever. One of the main problems I found in the first Dead Island is when attacking, after a couple of hits my character would just stop attacking, I wouldn’t be out of stamina and nothing would be touching me but my character would just stop then go to default pose; This issue still remains in Dead Island: Riptide. As a matter of fact, the only mechanic that seemed to have been added is an attack that allows you to jump onto a zombie and instant kill it if you’re on the slightest angle of elevation. But like the stomp ability, this is also flawed as it has a long recovery time and is an opportunity for zombies to beat on you for a bit.
Earlier I mentioned the island of Palanai as “unforgiving” and I quite literally mean it. When you start the game, you have the option of either importing your character from Dead Island, or starting a new one from level 15 and get 14 Skill Points to distribute as you choose. I would highly recommend not importing a higher level character as none of the items your character have on them get transferred over and punching a group of zombies to death between level 40-60 isn’t exactly entirely easy. The zombies are faster, hit harder and will never be alone, they will always be in large groups. It doesn’t seem like it, you’ll be walking along until you see a zombie or three feasting on a corpse and think it’s an easy opportunity to get some experience points, you go in for the kills, then suddenly before you know it you’re surrounded by a large group that have come out of nowhere.
Not only are the zombies incredibly harder, but weapons feel like they’ve been majorly nerfed. Okay, sure, while you’re out of stamina you can now kick, but that just prolongs your stamina from regenerating and weapon durability has been increased, but this still doesn’t balance out that when you run out of stamina you’ll be lucky to have at least killed one standard zombie.
Let’s move on to the playable characters:
Logan Carter: Ex-Pro Quarterback who was involved in a street race that ended in a car accident, killing his passenger and fracturing his knee which put an end to his career in sports. Due to his background in American Football, Logan is an expert when it comes to throwing weapons. He can automatically retrieve a weapon he’s thrown and aim at multiple enemies while in fury. Alcohol also gives him higher damage output and health regeneration.
SamB: One hit wonder rapper who caught a lucky break when he released his single “Who Do You Voodoo, Bitch?’ as a joke for halloween one year. Sam B acts as the “Tank” in Dead Island and focuses on blunt weapons. He can ram enemies and while in fury, send them flying. He also takes less damage and knock down zombies longer.
Xian Mei: Part of the Chinese Special Forces, she aspired to become a law enforcer when at the age of 10 her father was murdered. She was looked down on by her other fellow officers simply for being a woman and was sent to the Royal Palms Resort to spy on rich Westerners. Xian focuses on sharp weapons, increasing her backstabbing damage, additional critical hit effects and rage gain for faster fury use. Xian is also more effective at healing.
Purna: Former police officer of the Sydney Police Department in Australia who lost her job after shooting a child molester in self-defence. She then became a bodyguard for VIP’s in dangerous situations around the world. She is dedicated to deliver the bullet that will kill the child molester as the first attempt only wounded him. Purna’s experience in the police force has made her an expert at firearms. She can have an aura active passively that boosts team mates and her own performance in combat. She can also carry extra ammunition, has bullet penetration and has a personal sidearm for her fury mode.
John Morgan: Ex-soldier in the Australian Defence Force who has trained to perfect unarmed martial arts. He was convicted for treason for refusing to shoot innocent civilians and was later discovered to also be immune to the infection. John is an expert with fist weapons, giving he special skills such as and uppercut and run kick that sends the target flying. John has a pole-arm during his fury that deals area of effect damage. He also has a chance to regenerate health instead of dying on a death blow.
The graphics of Dead Island: Riptide at least seem to have had a bit of polishing done to them, but only a bit and it still pretty much looks like the first. The major concern I had with the first game was that it wasn’t dark. There were areas that I’m sure we’re meant to in absolute darkness, but you could easily fly through the game without the need of a flashlight. Dead Island: Riptide addressed this issue. There are parts of the game that are in pitch black and you need a flashlight to see. Although this change had been made, there are times when you’re in a dark area and the flashlight will be of little to no help whatsoever, it’ll simply be too dark to see a thing.
The soundtrack and sound effects also seem to be the same from the original, maybe have had some remastering slightly to have a more crisp and terrifying feel to them. The voice acting is still rather unconvincing and can feel dull with some characters. There are times when a character is talking in a cutscene and they’ll be too quiet, then the next person will start talking and it’s as if they’re yelling into your ear, then to another character that will also sound like they’re off in the distance. even though everyone talking are standing within a few feet of each other.
Dead Island Riptide has decided to keep in the tradition special zombies from the first game, the Thug, Suicider, Ram, Floater and Butcher. Then decided to add several new special zombies such as:
Drowner: Zombies that play dead in the water, when they hear a boat approaching, they spring up and climb onto it.
Grenadier: Throws protruded growths of it’s body at the player from a long range.
Wrestler: A true powerhouse brute, the mutation has transformed it’s hands into the shape of clubs. It is infamous for it’s strength and aggression.
Screamer: A zombie that lets out a terrifying screech that blur’s the vision and distorts the player.
Other new special zombies are just even more powerful versions of already existing zombies. Such as the Undying and the Ogre, which is a more powerful and resistant to knockbacks zombie of the Thug and the Butcher.
Dead Island: Riptide has added in a couple of new features to the game. One of them being ‘Dead Zones’. Dead Zones are infested areas that the player must clear and defeat the head zombie. The rewards for doing these Dead Zones are truly worth the risk and the planning it takes getting these areas cleared are quite rewarding. Another new feature in the game are HUB defence missions where your need to fortify and lay traps around your location in order to successfully survive the hordes of zombies that attack.
Overall Dead Island: Riptide doesn’t really feel like an entirely new game, but much rather a long, drawn out DLC content, especially with the same animations, problems, textures, objects, weapons and a never ending horde of overpowered zombies, but with a couple of things tweaked here and there. Sure, you get to use boats, but you’ll end up spending as much time as you can avoiding them as traveling by water just isn’t really as appealing as what it seems. Having zombies climbing onto the boat consistently, having to do a quick time event so they don’t knock you off it and if they do then you’ll generally find yourself surrounded (like usual). On the up side though, cars now instantly kill anything they come into contact with! I would recommend that people try a demo version of Dead Island: Riptide before purchasing a copy, even if you enjoyed the first game like I did.