Review: Dead Island Riptide
They thought they had escaped. Having survived the ordeals of the zombie infestation on the once beautiful island resort of Banoi. They thought they were safe. The group of survivors thought they had finally found a safe place to escape from this terrifying nightmare.They thought wrong. Shortly after the battle-hardened team had landed their helicopter on a military ship, a furious storm hits and havoc quickly spreads on board.Hope is drowning. Together with newcomer John Morgan they find themselves struggling for their lives again, stranded on the secluded island of Palanai with its luxurious town of Henderson surrounded by deep jungles and mangrove swamps.
- Graphics have been greatly improved especially in the water department. The water glistens and reflects all the surrounding foliage perfectly, ripples and explosions look the part. Seeing a zombie underwater is as close to realism as you can get. The game maintains the bright palette as before but whereas the previous game then went a bit grey and muddy after the opening level. This game keeps the colors coming.
- The intro at the beginning of the game shows all the major events of the first game and does a great job of refreshing your memory. Of course if you haven’t played the first one then it does enough to tie all the event together.
- New zombie types enter the arena. Each just as deadly, Floaters are zombies that look dead floating in the water. Get too close and they soon spring to life. Covered in seaweed and shells, these beasts can run fast in water and have a devastating set of punches. Next up is the wrestler, these brutes have a huge Popeye style arm that swings and smashes the ground with such venom that you would do well to avoid any up close combat. Other such new zombies are screamers, which can literally scream you to death! Once they start screaming, you lose the ability to use your weapon as you seek to use your hands to drone out the noise. Being close mid scream will cause you to fall over. They too are fast punchers and always bring back up.There are more zombies that are new but I don’t want to give them all away. Much too say they add a lot of depth and variety to the game.
- Vehicles make a welcome return. They too see a boost to their roster, in the form of boats. Now you can navigate the world by sea, equipped with a speed boost, killing zombies on the open sea has never been so fun!
- The game is a lot more open than the previous game and is aimed a lot more to exploration. You can find caves, houses and secret rooms scattered all over Palanai. Go off the beaten track and you will be rewarded for your efforts. With cars and boats at your disposal, seeking out new islands and items has never been so much fun. Fast travel is still in the game and if travelling within the same region, still has instant loading where as region swapping still incurs a loading screen.
- You can import your save from Dead Island and your level unlocks carry over. With a level cap of 70, Even people who beat the previous game will be able to level up.
- The way in which you buy items has had an overhaul. In each of the camps each member will specialise in a particular weapon type. One will sell blades while another one will deal in say exotic weapons. Selling items also depends on who you sell too. So selling guns to a blade expert will lower the costs as opposed to selling it to the blade seller.
- The interface has had a facelift and is clearer and more in depth than before. Hitting select will bring up the usual options Dead Island players are accustomed to. New additions include a log of zombie types met each with their own threat level rating. A detailed stat screen showing kills, time played, med kits used etc.. Now you can even break it down further and see how many kills you have of a certain zombie. Looking at items in your inventory come up with a handy list of mods the piece is used for.
- Dying and restarting is no longer a pain and you can usually find yourself right where you left off. Worst case scenario is it will put you at the beginning of the set area. Enemies will stay on the health bar they were before you died. This is especially useful when you meet some of the harder boss type zombies later on.
- A new move has been added to every players list. An aerial attack which is triggered by pressing square when above an enemy. A icon will appear on eligible zombies and is a one hit kill attack. From the tests I carried out, it seems you get no fall damage when executing this move, no matter the height and I’ve hit some crazy heights!
- Facebook integration so you can brag to all your friends how far you have got or a new weapon you have found.
- The game is harder, owed more to the introduction of the new zombie types, But also the fact that there are more zombies than in the previous game. Zombies are placed a lot more randomly than before and re visiting an area, zombies never appear in the same place twice. Its all a lot more un scripted.
- A new feature is introduced where you must hold off a zombie onslaught. More commonly known as Fort. players are tasked with putting up fences and setting up turret guns. You can even lay a load of landmines,shock mines or anything else you can find, to slow the zombies down. The game mode works really well and really amps up the atmosphere. Endless fighting off of zombies as they just coming at you from all sides. The AI characters will fight for you and whilst you can not directly order them about, they will need your help from time to time as they get grabbed by zombies and their health will deplete. Luckily a huge icon comes up to show you where they are. If a member dies then you will have to restart from said check point.
- Side quests have more than tripled in this game. Now you have quests for each individual member of both your party and your camp. Completing these quests gives you your usual exp,cash and item rewards, But in addition you also get team unlocks. For example helping the woman in charge of weapons grants you electrified fences for fort mode, which helps alot. Other bonuses could be better weapons from shops or cheaper prices or med packs work better. There is always a good incentive to seek out each quest.
- You can now rank up each weapon type like blades,guns,blunt weapons. Ranking up in each area gives you a new set of bonuses. Such as a higher critical hit chance or longer durability or even a higher attack speed. Again its a welcome addition and really benefits the player.
- You get better weapons and mods a lot quicker than in the previous game and there are loads of new mods. Especially like the area of effect mods or the ammo mods for guns. Even using guns is easier. Where as in the first game you didn’t really get access to guns until near the end, This time round they are a lot more readily available. Even the opening segment has you using guns.
- New weapons along side the mods make there way into the game. Sniper rifles,rocket launchers,mines, and all manner of sharp things. Each with a huge selection of mods. No one player will ever use the same combination.
- The world has said is a lot bigger with a lot more going on. Walking through waist deep water is the new buzz and fits in wonderfully with the games new direction. With rain and sunshine being your weather types, the game does have a unique beautiful feel about it. Some stunning vistas can be seen and at no point do you feel like your in a small dull land. You move camp a lot in the game and met some unique people each with their own agenda.
- The story always references the first game and builds on it in spades. Yes it can at times be predictable but it never spoils the fun. The side quests have a lot more variation and don’t feel like they have been shoe horned in.
- Co-op is still the same setup and execution of the first and allows you to jump into random players games with a press of a button. The game can notify you when a player is in the area so you can be safe in the knowledge that the player your joining is at the same point as you.
- The combat and controls remain exactly the same from the first game and returning players will slip straight back into it.
- Hours of game play to be had. I logged 23 hours and that was me finishing the main story and only doing 41% of the side quests. I still had a lot of the islands left to explore and I didn’t find all the collectibles.
- Character animations in the FMV’s in particular, still look stiff and low quality.
- Facebook integration isn’t for everyone and if you don’t set it up then you will be greeted with the prompt to do so every boot up.
- Started getting performance hits, especially in built up areas with a lot of zombies. The one bad case of slow down though always occurred when a zombie lying down, would get up and the game would stutter ever so slowly. It got more noticeable when you would swing a weapon and you would get slow down or even start stopping animations. Trying to kick running zombies would sometimes result in them going through you and attacking you from behind, especially annoying when it was a pact of them.
- Had a few instances of pop up, not just the scenery but also with zombies magically appearing in front of you.
- Still no rear view option when driving a car or boat.
- Aiming with fire arms iron sight shooting is still cumbersome, firing from the hip is a better option to get the job done. The game seems to roll the dice on whether you get aim assist or not which can ruin the perfect shot.
- The mini map is kind of pointless as it doesn’t show your surroundings, Its more of a low spec compass than a map of sorts.
- Players who didn’t like the first one will struggle to enjoy this as it is more of the same. Combat hasn’t changed and the overall feel is the same.
In summary, The game is a huge improvement over the first game. They have kept everything that made the first game fun and ramped it up. New players and old players alike will love the new settings and weapon customisation offerings. But to be honest if you didn’t like the way combat worked in the first, then I doubt this will change your mind. That said the guns are more frequent so you could learn to play the game that way. The game never outstayed its welcome and when you wanted a break from the main story, side quests were always available or like I said you can go off exploring and find the many helpless survivors needing assistance. There is so much to do and the game world is gorgeous, from its sunny beaches to its treacherous jungles. It really does feel like a different game entirely. Climbing buildings scaling roof tops, finding tree houses with rope bridges, all the hall marks needed to be a right proper explorer in the zombie apocalypse is here. The story did a good job of explaining itself and setting up some classic encounters. The true star of the show though is the new zombies. Bringing new ways to die, killing them will take better planning. For the first hour of actual game play some players could be forgiven for thinking that the game is just a re skinned carbon copy of the first. But giving it more time, the game soon opens up into the sequel we all wanted. The fort mode is excellent and even better in co-op mode.