Quick Look: Dead Island Riptide

Those tropical zombies are up to their old tricks again. Brad is not amused.

Drew Scanlon on Google+
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Dead Island Riptide Review

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  • X360

Riptide is more Dead Island, but not better Dead Island.

There are a few new things going on here, but not many.

It might sound dismissive to sum up Dead Island Riptide as just "more Dead Island," but that's exactly what it is. This is the sort of follow-up that's bigger than an expansion pack but far lesser in scope than a true sequel; it simply feels like a full-length game's worth of additional content shoved into the previous game's framework. The two games are so similar--Riptide reuses just about all of the first game's interface elements, art assets, and gameplay systems--you'd often find it tough to even tell which game is which. If I'd come out of Dead Island with a burning desire for more Dead Island, Riptide would go down a lot easier, but since that original game started out strong and just got weaker as it wore on, playing through another 15 hours of almost exactly the same thing, when the first one already felt like more than enough, instead just becomes a tiresome exercise.

That first game was rotten with bugs and odd design quirks, but I was willing to forgive a lot because its strongest aspects--namely the exacting first-person melee combat, and all the loot and RPG trappings that propped it up--were so enticing. Still, despite a fantastic first act, Dead Island dragged on longer than it should have given its issues, and at least for me it had expended much of the good will it built up by the end of the game. Exactly one game's worth of Dead Island was plenty for me, so when I jumped back into Riptide and immediately felt a sense of fatigue with the gameplay mechanics after just the first few minutes, I knew it was a bad sign. Unfortunately none of the meager additions to the formula here are enough to counteract the awkward design and shoddy production values that carried over from the first game.

There wasn't much of a storyline in Dead Island, but at least the setting was entertaining, taking a pampered tropical resort populated by spoiled rich kids and dropping the zombie end of the world right in the middle of it. There's nothing half as interesting in Riptide, as your same four survivors (joined by one new playable character) have managed to escape one island hellhole only to wash up on the shores of another one, the landscape of which looks conspicuously similar to the first one. Here you're running quests through a boring jungle, a shantytown, an old military base, and other zombie-game cliches that don't allow the freedom of movement or even compelling visual design of the resort in the first game. All of Riptide reminded me of Dead Island's weak third act, while none of it recalled that great first act, as if the designers themselves didn't realize what was actually great about their own game.

Hey, remember all these guys?

It's worth noting the new things Riptide does, since there aren't many of them. There are a handful of base-defense missions that take a direct cue from Call of Duty's own zombies mode, since you're running around putting up barbed wire to keep enemies out and manning gatling-gun turrets to mow them down as they try to get in. These missions are fun enough in co-op, and even when you're alone, your NPC allies do a decent job of helping control the zombie crowd (though the game still pulls the ridiculous trick of having all your ally characters pop up in cutscenes when you've been running around the entire game by yourself). There's a couple of new enemies, like the screamer, who can, well, scream to incapacitate you briefly, and the wrestler, who has a gigantic gross tumor of an arm it can swing around like a club, but you're still going to kill hundreds upon hundreds of the fodder-like infected and walkers ad nauseam from beginning to end. If you were already burned out on fighting those things from the last game, you aren't going to find it anymore entertaining here, despite the presence of a paltry few new weapons and mods (that are barely distinguishable from the ones last time around). Oh, and there are some boats to drive clumsily around the inland rivers here and there, but they hardly make up for the paucity of drivable trucks on the island.

Never has "more of the same" been more apt.

Other than the occasional base defense, most of the quest design in the game has you merely running from one place to another to grab an item or throw a switch, then moving on to the next area to do the same thing, with occasional poorly produced and dramatically bankrupt cutscenes punctuating the events of the story, such as it is. The rough production quality of the cinematics was strangely endearing in the first game in a kind of backwards way. But two games in, it's just gotten irksome, especially as this game halfheartedly makes some overtures toward the origin of this whole zombie mess before taking a hard left turn into a completely ridiculous, unearned plot twist, and then just...ending. Parts of the game are still kind of fun to play through cooperatively with friends--though, unlike in the first game, you sometimes feel like you have to be playing in co-op to avoid being overwhelmed by awful infinite enemy spawns--but coming from the Dead Island, getting through Riptide mostly just felt like a slog that I wanted to be done with.

The first Dead Island was long on good ideas but short on skillful execution, and while there's still a truly great game lurking in there somewhere, Riptide is not it. It's a shame Techland didn't take this opportunity to take a step back and figure out how to properly evolve this formula before iterating on the franchise again. Maybe that truly improved Dead Island will still come along someday, but in the meantime, Riptide feels like a game that didn't really need to be made.

Brad Shoemaker on Google+
134 Comments
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Posted by true3man

A shame it doesn't live up to the first game, though that one got real tedious after you went inland.

Posted by SolidOcelot

No trucks, no sale.

Online
Posted by indieslaw

Bummer

Posted by MarkM

I'll play Dead Island 1.5 - I like hitting stuff with stuff.

Posted by zEyePawdz

Considering I had trouble stomaching the first game in the series, this sounds downright awful.

Edited by Abendlaender

Would you say this is better than the Ryder White DLC, Brad?

I seem to remember you enjoyed that quite a bit.

Posted by Benmo316

It's odd that a game that takes so much from the original took almost two years to come out. From Brad's review, and a few others, Riptide sounds like it could've been released six months after Dead Island. Looks like I won't play this Dead Island game, either.

Edited by Solh0und

Ouch. I didn't see this coming at all. I guess I should wait until this hits $20 and THEN consider a purchase on it. I would be shocked if that Star Trek game turns out to be the best game of this week.

Also, No truck wars, no sale :(

Posted by zEyePawdz

@benmo316 said:

It's odd that a game that takes so much from the original took almost two years to come out. From Brad's review, and a few others, Riptide sounds like it could've been released six months after Dead Island. Looks like I won't play this Dead Island game, either.

Back in the day, PC players used to call em "expansion packs."

>_>

Posted by fox01313

Very odd that they just didn't do this as a late DLC expansion for the first game. Feel bad that Brad had to review it as it doesn't sound that much fun for him or anyone else.

Posted by Hippie_Genocide

Did the Game Enthusiast Press Illuminati all get together and decide to say the exact same things about this game or what?

Edited by SuburbanCowboy

That dude at the top left of the page has a tiny hand

Edited by MrGtD

Do you recommend getting this to settle a truck thing?

Posted by Sackmanjones

If you are planning on picking this up, pc version is only 40 bucks which helps justify the feeling of "more of the same"

Edited by plainplease

I hate to comment on the review instead of an opinion about the game, but here goes anyway. I admire Brad as a writer. I often see writers focusing on "clarity and conciseness" to a fault. Their flow gets choppy and their tone gets robotic. Brad seems to do a great job stretching his legs and letting readers soak in his voice and opinions. Sentences like,

"If I'd come out of Dead Island with a burning desire for more Dead Island, Riptide would go down a lot easier, but since that original game started out strong and just got weaker as it wore on, playing through another 15 hours of almost exactly the same thing, when the first one already felt like more than enough, instead just becomes a tiresome exercise."

really stand out as complex yet full of charm. I'm more apt to listen to someone if they allow their personality to seep into their writing, or even saturate their writing. Excellent review from Brad, yet again.

Posted by Gerhabio

Goddamn, I was not expecting it to be worse than the first game. I actually did not play the first one because I thought this would be a better version of it (no sewers, only tropical island).

Posted by MustardDragon

I still don't see how anyone could like the FIRST game, let alone this one. Stinky.

Posted by craigymail

Thanks for the review I was unsure how it would end up being, time to cancel that pre-order.

Posted by andrew2696

That's a shame. Though I really only have a mild interest in Riptide since the new character is supposed to be hand to hand based which sounds hilariously ridiculous but cool too.

And I think your level from Dead Island is carried over which is kind of cool but really hammers in the point that this seems like Dead Island 1.5.

Edited by JigsawIntoSpace

My torso is ready.

Online
Posted by OneKillWonder_

I was afraid that this is what this game would turn out to be, and that's why I won't buy it. At least not right now. It'll be super cheap someday, though I expect that when that day comes, I will be too interested in the new consoles to give a shit.

I really enjoyed the first one, except for the city and prison levels, but I was really hoping that they would fix at least most of the game's major issues instead of just ignoring that they exist.

Online
Edited by Bernoulli

Loved the first one, pre-ordered this one...kind of worried now.

Posted by Lucifunk

This is not the game I think of wanting when I think "just more of the same."

Posted by Cessate

I enjoyed the first game quite a bit (Third Act not standing), so I was pretty stoked when I first heard about Riptide. But from gameplay footage I was withdrawn since it looked like more of the same - but worse.

It's hella sad to hear that that's exactly what it is, now that the reviews are coming out.

On the bright side, that just means one less game I have to pick up now. Thus money saved (for now).

Posted by EarlessShrimp

Considering it was a 40 dollar thing, I don't mind getting more of the same. I kinda liked the hitting undead things with stuff so I'll pay a budget price for a budget game.

Edited by slyspider

@benmo316 said:

It's odd that a game that takes so much from the original took almost two years to come out. From Brad's review, and a few others, Riptide sounds like it could've been released six months after Dead Island. Looks like I won't play this Dead Island game, either.

Back in the day, PC players used to call em "expansion packs."

>_>

Get off the internet grandpa, expansion packs are just a myth! A time when the same game doesnt release 3 months later under a new name for the same price... BA

Posted by Dalai

I said I would buy this game once it drops in price to $20 or less. Less looks more likely now.

Posted by EgoPoisoning

Bummer.

Surprised at not seeing an analysis of the new character and how he/she/it fits into the game. Obviously I'm going to go wiki the game and learn all about the character now, but it's especially depressing that the addition of a whole new playstyle wasn't enough to warrant more mention in the review.

Edited by ImmortalSaiyan

Reads like a one star game to me. Is it that hard to give out one stars?

Posted by BaconGames

I was enjoying the game okay by the second act (shanty town I believe) because I'm kind of a sucker for those RPG mechanics and the combat was good enough but damn if that shoddy mob difficulty curve just spoiled the whole game. Oh and after playing for a while I got stuck in some geometry and that was the last time I played Dead Island. I was kind of hoping this was exactly what this game would be so I can focus on other games.

Damn shame for Techland though, they're probably not going to hear the end of this one.

Posted by Rasgueado

RED TRUCK!

Posted by StarvingGamer

Meet the new Dead Island, same as the old Dead Island?

Edited by Oginam

Didn't even realize this was coming out.

I completed the first game the same way I completed Dead Rising 2 - bored out of my skull and at the last dregs of my resolve. Open world, masses of zombies games are a type of game I am happy to do without.

Edited by bkbroiler

ol' two stars shoemaker - HEY WAIT A MINUTE

Posted by Scrawnto

It sounds like they were just trying to cash in on the tech and assets before they made a real effort to make a sequel, but I can't help but think it will backfire.

Posted by Roomrunner

A friend and I MST3K'd our way through the original, so I wasn't expecting much, but

Riptide reuses just about all of the first game's interface elements, art assets, and gameplay systems--you'd often find it tough to even tell which game is which.

EUGHHHHHHHHH

Posted by Death_Burnout

I'm someone who got heavily immersed in Dead Island, so much so that I came out of it liking it a heck of a lot more than the majority. I simply can't tell, despite what I've read, if it's worth getting...

Techland really have no idea what makes their own games fun. If this game is as dumb and frustrating as the add-on was for the original, then no thanks.

I think I could and should go for another Dead Island playthrough instead...

Posted by UberExplodey

I liked Dead Island when it was a broken piece of shit and you could duplicate weapons.

Posted by Vasper_Knight

This should have been a stand alone expansion for $40 not a full price retail game, but it seems people like killing zombies no matter how bad it really is.

Edited by Krakn3Dfx

More of the same is expected, there's no '2' after the name, so it's implied IMO. I'm still excited to play it. Definitely been a divisive game among reviewers so far, tho.

Also, look at that monster dude's big ass hand!

Posted by gbrading

Oh dear. Deary me.

Edited by WiFiPirate

Why wasn't this rated on a "___ Trucks out of ___" scale?

Posted by Rasmoss

I'm strongly opposed to the notion that the first Dead Island was any good at all.

Posted by Humanity

Reads like a one star game to me. Is it that hard to give out one stars?

I'm pretty sure 1 star reviews are reserved for borderline unplayable titles and 2 stars is just a really lackluster game.

Edited by stryker1121

Damn! Brad's take seems to be the consensus, and I greatly enjoyed the first game, flaws and all. I can live w/ the glitches, but disappointed that Riptide has seemingly added new flaws w/o not so much as a shred of innovation.

Posted by Mercot

Re: voodooing in Rip Tide:

It's not who do the voodoo, but why.

Edited by whatisdelicious

Reads like a one star game to me. Is it that hard to give out one stars?

I think that's a problem with what Brad actually wrote, but if I had to take a guess, I assume Brad's response would be to put his right hand behind his head and start stroking his hair and say something like, "For better or worse--mostly worse--the core of it is still Dead Island, and for all that game's shortcomings, I still had fun with it. Riptide definitely isn't good, but it was occasionally reminiscent enough of the first game to warrant that second star."

Edited by DoctorWelch

This seems like a Assassin's Creed Brotherhood to Dead Island's Assassin's Creed 2. The only difference is this game came out two years later. The thing is, Borderlands 2 basically did the same thing, the only difference is that game came out three years later. Maybe people understand that it's hard to accomplish anything in one year, and three years is just enough time for people to want more of the same. Unfortunately Dead Island landed in the middle where I guess there's nothing but disappointment.

Edited by abara

"For better or worse--mostly worse--the core of it is still Dead Island, and for all that game's shortcomings, I still had fun with it. Riptide definitely isn't good, but it was occasionally reminiscent enough of the first game to warrant that second star."

I actually had to go back and check the review to make sure that wasn't actually what Brad wrote.

Posted by konig_kei

Did you atleast get a hawwwt severed torso?

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