Real Talk By: The AX
It’s time to face the facts: Zombies are in right now. The ever popular Walking Dead series on AMC has skyrocketed the undead to heights unseen in decades, if ever. With the financial success of 2011’s Dead Island, it came as no surprise to anyone that a sequel was announced less than a year after its release. The critics were mesmerized and polarized at the same time; how can a game so unpolished be so much fun? The character animations were 2 to 3 years behind, the voice acting was poor and the story was very cliché. However, the hack/slash RPG formula dubbed by many as “Borderlands with zombies and machetes” stabbed its way into the hearts of millions, including mine.
It’s a well known fact that I love zombies. Dead Island Riptide was a no-brainer. Techland didn’t need a cheesy and romantic trailer to suck me in. How can you go wrong with blood, chainsaws, and bikinis? Publisher Deep Silver has proven for a second time that the answer is simple: you can’t.
Dead Island Riptide picks up exactly where its predecessor ended: the 4 survivors have escaped the island of Banoi via helicopter in what seemed like a happy ending. They land on an aircraft carrier where they are taken prisoner and meet up with the 5th and newest addition to the immune troop, Josh. After being drugged and taken into custody by Colonel Sam Hardy, your character wakes up in the brig of the ship which has now been overrun by the infected. There isn’t any explanation as to why, but it doesn’t matter because the Dead Island franchise isn’t known for its storytelling, but rather its visceral combat.
The gameplay is largely the same as you may remember from Dead Island: clunky aversion controls, unnecessary platforming to reach hidden places, and combat that doesn’t connect with the limbs you want to dismember. On the bright side, if you just keep swinging you will inevitably eviscerate everything in your path whether you mean to or not. There are a few additions to the combat that I found to be particularly rewarding. Your character is now entitled to a “special move” that you unlock in your skill tree as you progress. I did my playthrough as the newbie, Josh, and his special move was the uppercut. There is nothing quite as satisfying as uppercutting a zombie’s face off. Well, with the exception of my favorite addition to the game, the running kick. In Dead Island Riptide, if one were to press the kick button while running, one’s character would perform a kick so powerful that it knocks enemies upwards of 20 feet away. This is especially hilarious when kicking zombies off of ledges, rails, or into walls. Kicking zombies into walls results in limbs flying in all directions as the torso ragdolls in a pool of its own blood. I laughed so hard I cried the first time this happened, and continued to kick zombies for the duration of my playthrough.
The weapon crafting system is a carbon copy of the one present in Dead Island. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a sequel without the addition of a few new weapons, but by and large it’s no big deal. The crafting system won’t wow you by any means, but strapping barbed wire or electrifying Wolverine-esque claws made for a bloody and up-close-and-personal experience. Imagine being an Australian Freddy Krueger played by Chuck Norris. Wait, I take that back. I’m copyrighting that because who wouldn’t watch that? I digress.
The engine of Riptide has seen a couple of improvements, but largely it feels like an unpolished experience. When playing, I couldn’t help but think to myself of how awesome this will be on the next generation and with a bigger budget. The environments and new weather effects change up the formula from the first one, but at the end of the day it’s the stupid fun combat that brought me through to finishing it. There are a few new classes of zombies, such as the Grenadier, the Drowner, and the Screamer, but again these didn’t add to my playthrough of Riptide. The Screamers are a pain, but they tend to shut up when their mouths are full of my shotgun barrel.
All in all, Dead Island Riptide feels like an expansion for Dead Island with a UI overhaul and a re-recorded soundtrack. I was really hoping for a night-and-day difference like that between the first two Assassin’s Creed entries, but I found myself getting lost in Riptide nonetheless. Would I recommend Dead Island Riptide? Absolutely. I had infinitely more fun playing Dead Island Riptide than I did the latest Bioshock (get it? Because the new Bioshock is Bioshock Infinite. Be patient, it’ll come to you). I may get a lot of hate for that, but to all the haters, I have but one rebuttal. Australian Freddy Krueger played by Chuck Norris. I’ve made my point.
Dead Island Riptide Gets
Out of Five
+The variety of weapons
+Still fun with friends
-Feels too familiar
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