"DEAD ISLAND: RIPTIDE"
Format: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Publisher: Deep Silver
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)
What is it?
A continuation of the 2011 hit zombie action RPG 'Dead Island. ' The story of 'Riptide ' picks up where its predecessor left off. The heroes from the original game have managed to escape the resort island of Banoi to a ship off the coast. But things quickly go awry as you soon discover the ship's crew has more devious purposes than rescuing survivors. You mysteriously run aground on a nearby island, and that's when things start to get zombified all over again.
A deeper story. One of the biggest knocks on the first 'Dead Island ' was its fluffy plot. There just wasn't much in the way of story development. That's certainly changed with 'Riptide. ' Right from the opening cut scenes, gamers are given clues that there's more going on than players just mindlessly whacking away at waves of zombies. While having a motivation to thump hordes of walking dead with a canoe paddle isn't necessarily a requirement in a zombie game, the cut scenes do help give the game more depth.
Fun co-op.Gamers can choose to play through 'Riptide ' solo, but this is a title that's best enjoyed with friends. The resort island you're on can be a dangerous place, so it helps to have other people around. Messing with zombies can also be entertaining. This isn't a game that takes itself too seriously, so running around with your friends while toying with the undead is just as much fun as sticking to the main missions.
Zombie buffet. One of the best things about 'Riptide ' is that it's packed with things to do. There are a ton of side missions to go along with the main story. The RPG elements that worked so well in the original are back, and there are new vehicles to explore the island with. 'Riptide ' is basically one big zombie playground for gamers to goof around on.The bad
Second verse, same as the first. For gamers who played the first 'Dead Island, ' 'Riptide ' will feel awfully familiar. A little too familiar, in fact. With a similar setting, the same returning heroes and almost identical gameplay, 'Riptide ' sometimes feels more like a 'Dead Island ' DLC pack than its own game. This sequel also retains some of the series' most nagging issues - too many fetch quests, weapons still break down quickly and driving controls remain broken. While there have been some minor improvements (a new character, dynamic weather), there isn't enough to make 'Riptide ' feel different enough from its predecessor.
Ouch, that hurt. Playing 'Riptide ' can often be a painful experience. It's almost as if developer Techland wants to punish you for playing it. Perish and a significant amount of your money, if not all of it, is gone. Leveling up serves no real purpose as enemies level up with you. Missions lack variety, making gameplay repetitious. Managing weapons is also a chore. 'Riptide ' never cuts you any slack, which can make it a grind.
'Dead Island: Riptide ' has some flaws that are sure to turn people off. There were certainly times when I was frustrated with this game. That said, as long as you know what you're getting yourself into, there is some zombie bashing fun to be squeezed out of this title.
Gazette Media Columnist Terry Terrones is a veteran video game journalist. He has written for numerous publications including GamePro, PC World, GameZone, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/terryterrones.