Zombies have now been the popular horror route to take for years and, as such, we’ve started to see them get pounded in the ground. Dead Island was a bit of a sleeper hit when it was released; its open world mixed with its visceral melee combat combined for quite the enjoyable zombie slaying experience. Of course, as any open world game goes, it had its fair share of bugs too. Dead Island: Riptide brings over the same zombie killing formula as its predecessor while adding on a few minor adjustments. Unfortunately, it also fails to fix many of the problems with the first game while also adding its own fair share of bugs and problems.

deadisland-riptide-all-all-screenshot-035-dome

When Riptide was announced, it was a bit unclear if it was an expansion to the original or its own standalone sequel but Riptide is in fact a standalone sequel to the original that takes place directly after the events of the first Dead Island.

The survivors of the first game all return, joined by one additional character. However, the story feels like more of an afterthought; its terribly shoddy cut scenes, inconsistent voice acting, and a genuinely uninteresting tale detract from the experience. Luckily, the story will generally never get in your way of enjoying the overall experience.

For better or for worse, you’re not getting a lot of new content with Riptide. While it adds a few new things – a new character, setting, boats, enemy types, and combat moves – it’s largely unchanged from the original and it does absolutely nothing to fix the problems of what was wrong with the original game, as well.

deadisland-riptide-all-all-screenshot-032-behind-the-bus

Zombies. Zombies everywhere.

Of course, more of the same with Dead Island: Riptide might not be a bad thing. It has the same viscerally satisfying combat system, and aiming the slice of your machete to decapitate a zombie or take off an arm feels just as good as it did before. Part of the reason why people liked the first game so much was because of that feeling it gave you as a zombie RPG, and it feels good.

You explore the island, scavenge for money and whatever materials you can find, and put ridiculous upgrades into your weapons like attaching a giant saw blade onto the top of a baseball bat. In addition, the new character turns out to be a totally overpowered juggernaut which, of course, can be great fun as you literally punt zombies out of your way. There are also some new hub defense kind of missions. These require you to place barriers and set up turrets in order to defend an area while a certain objective is being fulfilled.

There’s a sort of driving force behind Riptide that the first game had, as well; you want to keep going on to level up and get new perks – whether you choose to have an extra inventory slot or a new combat move – and there’s also just something so satisfying about hacking off zombie limbs and destroying them en masse that just keeps you chugging on through Dead Island. There’s a lot that keeps you going on in Riptide as well.

deadisland-riptide-all-all-screenshot-037-lagoon

The island of Palanoi is both beautiful and deadly.

Your quest log will be filled with story quests as you progress and, as you wander around the beaches and jungles of the new Island Palanoi, you’ll discover a multitude of side quests (some of which turn out to be very interesting). My personal favourite was someone called the “Zombienator” who needed me to retrieve his super cape, super sneakers, and super fish in order for him to embark upon an epic zombie killing journey. There’s also something called “Dead Zones” this time around; these are all monster-filled mini dungeons, each with a uniquely named super zombie at the end that you’ll need to kill. Dead Zones are all optional and you’ll need to do a bit of running around the island in order to find them all.

Co-op returns again to Riptide and, of course, this is going to be the main draw for the game. Playing Riptide alone is fun but playing with friends is even better. Even if your friend has a level 60 character, you can still play with them as Riptide has a very convenient scaling system that will allow you to fight zombies at your level and them to fight zombies at their level.

Dead Island HUD

This new enemy type throws infected parts of its body at you. Yuck.

Dead Island is pure fun – pure gory, zombie killing fun – and that’s why you play this game really. Even after beating the game and getting through the awkward final boss fight, I found myself going back into the game just so I could find all those Dead Zones and complete every side quest. It’s not lacking in content either as I’m almost 20 hours in and still going.

There is, however, one problem that cannot be overlooked and that’s the buggy-ness that you sometimes encounter. In my experience, the bugs I encountered never really broke the game or stopped me from enjoying it but there are certainly problems.

Textures pop in and out at times, enemies can be just plain stupid, and characters or enemies go through walls at some points and land hits on you when you shouldn’t even be in their range.  The mini map is devoid of any geological points for reference, and objective pathways almost never stayed active for me (consequently forcing me to find a way to my objective on my own). In addition, the frame rate dropped to abysmal levels for me at a couple of points. There are far more bugs than I would care for but the highs that the game reaches can make up for any frustration that may occur, and all of this is based on my experience with an Xbox 360 copy of the game.

gaming-dead-island-riptide-5

Hub defense missions provide a nice change of pace.

Dead Island: Riptide can either be a very good looking game or a very bad looking game. Environments and enemy types generally look very good but character models….not so much. The soundtrack, while nothing spectacular, fits the mood of the game but I could have gone without hearing Sam B’s rap single anymore. Hearing the sound of enemy screeches as you run through abandoned city streets or a tropical jungle only adds to the experience.

With its myriad of new additions, Dead Island: Riptide brings all of the zombie killing fun that the original had packed in, and gives you another smorgasbord of content to enjoy. Its bugs and terrible story may drag it down a bit but Dead Island: Riptide provides one of the most satisfying combat experiences that you can find in video games. Some things may break your immersion in the paradise island of Palanoi but, when Riptide reaches its best, it manages to be every bit as good as its predecessor.

Review Score:

[starreview tpl=16] 201402b
Title : Dead Island: Riptide
Format : Xbox 360/ Playstation 3/ PC
Developer : Deep Silver
Publisher : Deep Silver
Release Date : April 23rd, 2013
[starreviewmulti id=1 tpl=20] *Deep Silver provided Slimgamer.com with a review copy.
This review is based on completion of the main story and 65 of the 80 quests on an Xbox 360 version.