I've been done with Riptide for some time now, but with Metro: Last Light, Half Life 2, the last few weeks of school, and baseball season eating up much of my time, I have simply not gotten around to writing a review. At last, however, I have found some time on my hands and can actually give my thoughts on Deep Silver's sequel to their zombie infested, paradise island hit. 

And that my dear, is a zombie


In the original Dead Island, you found yourself in a beautiful, exotic, tropical vacation destination infested by zombies. It was a strange place to set a zombie apocalypse, but proved to work well. The graphics have never been anything above average, but it had memorable locations and landmarks, such as the the lighthouse or the plane crash, that made the environment feel unique and allowed players to really remember the map. Rarely did I have to bring up my map because I could traverse the map by memory and landmark recognition. Now the problem with Riptide's environment is that it is far too similar to the original's, but lacks these memorable locations that made the original's environment so appeasing. I could easily map out the original Dead Island's locations, which I haven't touched in over a year, with far more accuracy than that of Riptide's, which I played just last week, simply because Riptide's environment is generic. 


As I was playing through Riptide, I constantly had this "I've been here feeling" going through my mind as I traveled from area to area.  After the initial ship area, which by the way is the only area that I found myself unable to compare to an area in the original Dead Island, every area has an "all ready used" feel to it. In the original Dead Island you start off your real journey on a beach which is also how you start off your journey through Riptide. As you trek through the "new" island of Palanai, which simply feels like Deep Silver crossed the jungle area and resort area of the original Dead Island and then added water, it is difficult to not feel as though you've been there before. Then later on you travel to a dead infested city, a sewer/tunnel type area, a laboratory overrun by the infected, and an enclosed almost prison-like castle area. For those of you who played the original Dead Island, does any of this seem familiar?

Deep Silver, however, did attempt to add some interesting additions to the environment. These most notably include the addition of weather and "dead zones." On paper these things sound like great additions to the game's environment and could perhaps compensate for the environments overall blandness, but sadly, this is not the case. The weather aspect of the game simply does not function as one would expect it to be and feels completely unnatural. One moment it will be perfectly sunny and cloudless and then the next moment, it will start down pouring in a massive thunderstorm. These thunderstorm type weather patterns lose all effectiveness though in my mind because they have no build up to them. The sky does not get dark and the air quiet as happens before an actual thunderstorm. It is just an instantaneous change from perfect weather to what is intended to be frightening weather and thus feels completely unnatural. As for the dead zones, these are just small areas infested with huge quantities of zombies often times with a mini boss zombie as well. At first it is fun to clear out these areas and reap the bountiful rewards usually inside, but after awhile is just becomes cumbersome because of a lack of variation in area design. 

I knew those years of t-ball would come in handy.......


Atrocious, generic, bland, unmemorable. Those words alone describe every single character in Riptide. There is just no substance to any of the characters Riptide has to offer. Simply look at it's five main protagonists, every one of them is inherently generic and even stereotypical. Sam B: hardcore, ghetto rapper, Xian: Asian martial artist, Logan: drunken former athlete, Purna: tough girl with a gun, John Morgan: determined military grunt. Really, these descriptions sum up all one really has to know about these characters. All other characters met throughout the course of Riptide are also equally as unmemorable and generic as well. 

To make things even worse, the voice acting and skill trees associated with each character are horrible as well. Some may think that voice acting really shouldn't be a focus point when concerning video game characters, but this is far from the truth. The voice of a character, whether this be in a movie or video game, must be appropriately acted out to give the character a genuine feel. In the case of Riptide, every character's voice is horribly acted out thus as characters, it is difficult to take them seriously. It's simple, bad acting makes bad characters.

As for the skill trees, when compared to other games with skill tree focused characters, such as Borderlands, Riptide's skill trees falter in several ways. The first way being that Riptide's skill trees lose prominence very quickly. At around level 50 I found myself having difficulty putting skill points on the skill tree not because there were so many useful skills, but because I had already used all of the useful skills. I just find that many of the skills are simply a waste of space and could have been easily replaced if a little creativity was implemented. With Borderlands 2 for example, I always found myself putting skill points to good use even near the end of my character's level cap. Another major way in which the skill trees fail to impress is that for the four original characters, the skill trees are basically recycled from the previous Dead Island and simply have a few additions to them. Leveling up a character that you already had leveled up simply feels tedious when compared to starting off with a brand new character. What Deep Silver did with its characters would be the equivalent of Gearbox recycling the original Borderlands' characters into Borderlands 2. (Although I'm sure many still wanted to play as the original Borderlands characters because they were unique......good ol' Mordecai)

Well isn't this quite the predicament


The story of Dead Island: Riptide is perhaps all together the absolute worst aspect of Riptide. Think the most generic "escape the infected zone" zombie plot, throw in several unnecessary  plot, twists, a bunch of finger pointing about who's the real "bad" guy,  and sprinkle it with out of place cut scenes and you have the plot of Dead Island: Riptide. Deep Silver attempts to make too many plot twists that simply blind side the player but lack any sort of real impact because no connection was formed between the player and Riptide's characters. For instance, one of the more "important" characters suffered what was supposed to be a tragic death and all I could think about while it was occurring was "This is taking forever." There was no sense of accomplishment for finishing off the final (and actual) villain, no feeling of excitement after experiencing the lack luster ending, and really no desire to experience the story a second time around. Simply nothing about Riptide's story worked. 


At last, at last I can talk about something positive about Dead Island: Riptide. Riptide's gameplay is the one thing that kept me playing through all its other flaws. As with most of Riptide's features, the combat system remains relatively unchanged. This is, however, the one instance in which I am glad it is that way. Drop kicks, the stamina bar, and curb stomps; amongst other things all make a return. I have always been a fan of Dead Island's melee orientated combat. Simultaneously hacking off multiple infected's heads with a venom mod katana as they sprint towards you has never been more satisfying. The variety of melee weapons available ranging from small knives to maces to swords allows for some great experimentation with the effects of weapons on zombies. The addition of even more weapon mods adds some more fun to the destruction as well. 

Can't tell if Riptide or original Dead Island........

Besides melee weapons, firearms are the other main tool of destruction present in Dead Island. In the original Dead Island, firearms were as close to useless as they could possibly be. A lack of ready ammunition, low damage outputs even to the head, and a lack of variety made guns a waste of inventory space. Riptide, however, thankfully changes this. With Riptide, several new weapon types have been added such as a bolt action sniper rifle, revolvers, shotguns, and a variation of assault rifles. These weapons now actually do damage as you would expect a gun to do. Running around shooting zombies in the skull with a revolver and watching their heads pop in an appropriate display of gore just feels right. Ammo is now much easier to come across since there are locations that can be taken advantage of where ammo continually spawns. However, the main focus of Dead Island's weapons will always be its melee weapons. 

Another thing Riptide gets right concerning gameplay is the addition of several new enemy types. The new enemy types consist of the drowner, grenadier, wrestler, and screamer. These enemy types add some nice variation to how a player has to approach a combat situation. By far, I've found that the screamer is the most problematic of the bunch. When she emits a high pitch scream, your character is forced to hold his/her ears and thus is left defenseless. This can be a pain when you're completely surrounded by other zombies and can't fight back. 

Who had the time to make this nice sign?

As with most aspects of Riptide, there are some very notable flaws. As many have stated, the game is littered with glitches. To list a few, drowners, which are supposed to be submerged in water, are often found floating in mid air, thrown weapons still get unexplainably lost or stuck in the ground, players climbing ladders sometimes get stuck, and frame rate issues when weather changes occur. Another thing that can become quite the irritation is the enemy spawns. Enemies spawn in the exact spots every time you leave an area and come back to it. This means you might clear out an area outside a building, go inside the building, and exit it just to be met with the same zombies you just killed ten minutes ago. Too many times I found myself and group killing the same groups of zombies. These are but a few of the problems concerning Riptide's gameplay. 


Dead Island: Riptide is one of those games that can be a lot of fun to play if you can get past its numerous flaws. Its great gameplay is about its only draw factor, but unless you absolutely love the gameplay, it can become a nuisance to play through. I really would not suggest getting this game unless you have a group of friends that you can readily play with. If you don't have that then I'd wait for a price drop or simply rent it. Overall Riptide fails to cash in on the success of the original and falls flat on its back like a zombie being drop kicked.

Overall Verdict


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