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Review

Dead Island: Riptide Review

  • Game release: April 22, 2013
  • Reviewed:
  • PS3

Dead Island: Riptide might look like an idyllic zombie-fest, but it's little more than a frustrating mess of half-baked ideas and repetitive combat.

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It starts promisingly enough: a mad dash off a sinking ship, a military coup, and a zombie horde just aching to be shown the business end of a shotgun. And then, just like that, the promise is taken away. Dead Island: Riptide teases far more in its opening minutes than it ever manages to deliver across its lengthy campaign. There's no drama, and little excitement. Instead, there's a rehash of old ideas, combat that's fun for all of five minutes, and a seemingly never-ending slog of repetitive missions filled with characters that have the emotional depth of a wet sponge. If there were ever a video game equivalent of smacking your head against a brick wall, Riptide would be it.

The story--and that's using the word generously--is filled with the sort of terrible dialogue, hammy voice acting, and cliches you'd expect to see in an awful zombie spoof, or at best, a trashy B movie. But there's no sense of humour or self-awareness here: to Riptide's detriment, it takes itself very seriously. And that seriousness is hard to swallow when you have to look after a bunch of shallow, argumentative characters who utter irritating swears every few minutes and prove so unlikable that you're willing them to be torn apart by the zombie horde, just so you can have some peace and quiet. Then there's the plot itself, which endlessly meanders between government conspiracy, sci-fi, and human interest, without even the slightest sense of direction.

This all makes it so very hard to care about anything that happens in Riptide. By the time you drag yourself through to the disappointing ending, apathy has taken over to the point where you wouldn't bat an eyelid at even the most grand of revelations. And that's only if you can muster up enough energy to make it that far. Riptide's sandbox island of Hanoi isn't filled with the fun zombie-killing adventures you might expect. Instead, there are fetch quests: lots of fetch quests. And within those fetch quests are yet more fetch quests.

Nearly every single one of the main missions and side quests requires you to head over to a part of the island, find an item, and bring it back to base. Often, before you can retrieve said item, the game makes you fetch something for the person who holds the item, thus creating a fetch quest within a fetch quest. What's more, the narrative reasoning behind each quest is questionable. Why some stranded villager might be after a few measly bucks when the entire island has been overrun with flesh-eating zombies that threaten the very existence of humankind is puzzling.

To make matters worse, the combat that ties the whole thing together remains largely unchanged from that of Dead Island, which is to say it's massively frustrating. The focus is on melee weapons, ranging from blunt objects like baseball bats and shovels, through to blades like carving knives and sickles. Most can be upgraded using items scavenged from around the island, with hidden blueprints giving you access to wilder designs. And initially at least, bludgeoning a zombie to death with an improvised, nail-covered baseball bat is amusing, thanks to the resulting blood splatters, severed limbs, and grisly sound effects.

The limitations of the combat soon become clear, though. Attacking zombies still feels wildly inaccurate, slow, and very dull, making it difficult to truly master. The result is that the combat quickly deteriorates into a repetitive mess as you kick a zombie backward, flail randomly at it, back off while it attacks, and then repeat the whole process ad nauseam. A stamina bar ensures you can't just spam an attack--particularly when you're using heavier weapons that drain the bar faster--but rather than giving the game a more realistic feel, it just further enhances the dull combat.

The vast majority of the zombies you face attack in the same way, rushing towards you until you knock them back with a kick to start the dull attack process. There are some special zombies that remain unchanged from those in Dead Island, including charger, spitter, and boomer types; they have slightly different movesets here, but you end up tackling them in exactly the same way, because your options are so limited. For a game so focused on combat, it's galling that you spend most of your time wanting to avoid zombies, just so you can spare yourself the resulting tedium.

Using a vehicle to get around takes some of the edge off of that tedium, because ploughing through groups of zombies in a jeep or cutting through them in a rickety old boat is far quicker than melee. Inevitably, though, you're still forced to engage in hand-to-hand combat once you reach your destination. Guns do arrive much later, but the weedy, inaccurate shooting isn't something to look forward to. Neither are Riptide's few horde missions, where you must protect your base from an onslaught of evil zombies. You can put up fences, lay mines, and take on a few side quests (of the fetch variety, naturally) in order to strengthen your defences, but it's all moot: just repeat your trusty "kick, swipe, back off" pattern a few hundred times, and the job's done.

Your reward for the hard combat slog is experience points, which are used to level up your character and unlock new skills, such as increased weapon accuracy and faster recovery times. Not that they make a whole lot of difference to the way the game plays, mind: it's all about keeping your level up to that of the zombies around you so you can fetch those items for other characters. Fortunately, levelling up is swift thanks to generous XP allocations, frequent checkpointing, and a death system that gives you unlimited lives, with the only penalty being the loss of cash you may have earned during missions or scrounged from the environment.

Riptide's role-playing game elements mean that as much as you might want to, you can't avoid combat entirely. But then, even if you did, what you'd be left with is a shallow husk of a storyline and an irritating cast of characters that you'd much rather see turned into a bloody mess than offered rescue. Not to mention that if you played the original Dead Island, there's not much new to see here. There's so little to like in Riptide that mustering up the enthusiasm to reach the lacklustre ending is a challenge for only the most hardcore of zombie fans to take on.

And don't try enlisting a few friends for some four-player co-op: it doesn't make the game any more exciting. Sure, having a few friends around makes those hordes disappear a little faster, and there are some extra quests you can take on, but the core experience remains as glacial as ever. Riptide is dumb, and mind-numbingly slow, and somehow manages to make the art of zombie-slaying feel like utter tedium. And if slaying zombies isn't fun in a game that's all about slaying zombies, why bother?

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The Good
Cool blood effects and dismemberments
The Bad
Boring, repetitive missions
Weak voice acting and dialogue
Soulless, irritating characters
Frustrating combat
4
Poor
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Discussion

38 comments
kool_zed_speaks
kool_zed_speaks

FYI reviewer, the island in this game is a different island called Palanai, not Hanoi. Just goes to show just how much attention this joke of a reviewer paid to this game. 

After playing it, this game is actually pretty fun. I would go so far as to say in my eyes, games like Far Cry 3 and Dead Island Riptide are pretty much comparable and offer the same level of enjoyment. I fail to see why Far Cry 3 wins accolades.

DarkLight748
DarkLight748

After playing this game, I can honestly say that this review is ridiculous.

Banyek
Banyek

I just played it trough, and was just checking how the reviewer liked it, aaaannnnddd whaaaaaat?
TBH it had its problems, I often died or got misplaced by gamebugs, but still I couldnt put the game down . If you upgrade , change and mod weapons, it shouldnt have boring combat, I was using blunt at first , splicers later on,  but by the end of the game I almost exclusively used firearms, so it felt less repetitive for me. There are a decent amount of interaction in the game, cutscenes for those who like some animation, and the fetchquests are not as boring as it sounds although there really are a LOT of them. Its definately not a great game, but decent enought to get more than 4.0. I give it a 6.  For those of us, who like interactions to the virtual world stay permanent will find it very annoying , that the game respawns anything anytime anywhere, so getting from point A to point B never gets easier, but if you think of the fact that you cant really die in this game, its something you can live with. give it a try if you can get it on budget prize, or borrow it from a friend. 

Liquid_Snake2
Liquid_Snake2

lol people  thought the first game was bad? morons. Its probably one of the most underrated games out there

Zekethompson22
Zekethompson22

On paper this game sounds like a lot of fun. Why all the hate?

stunt296
stunt296

It's not a horrible game, but it's not the best either. One thing I hate the most about it is the fact that the weapon repair cost is way too overpriced. Anyways, I can't complain, I'm getting paid to play it :p

_Perfectionist
_Perfectionist

 I always trust Gamespot with their rating system. It has proven to be extremely accurate for me personally. Face it, this game was terrible.

WillyWynn
WillyWynn

Thats why i love gamespot, they always give the real score haha! This game is sooooooooooooooooooooo badddddddddddddd! Is one of the worst zombie games i ever played in my entire life...  Is boring, awful voice acting, characters and story, poor combat and so on... How can someone say this game is good are you kidding me! LOOOL! 

ZICO11
ZICO11

Dead island: Fetchtide

Vanine_28
Vanine_28

4.0 ....... Are you F$^&ing kidding me. GS you guys are a bunch of r-tards. A F$#&ing 4.0. Learn how to review games you twits.

Mvdforever
Mvdforever

Hmm some games have been using the same flawed gaming engine for years Dead Island is indeed not perfect but i have played the first one and if this one is the same then i think it should merit at least a 6 or a 7 but this is his review and his opinion is his opinion i will agree the bugs and glitches are annoying as hell but if you ignore those than your treated to a pretty solid game specially when you have more than 1 human player involved.

Fragzoon
Fragzoon

I did not play the first one, but I have been playing this game for the last week and up to level 50-ish.

From what I've seen and played... I don't think it is fair to give this game a 4.... by far...

I've played worse game that was given a higher score! what the heck?

ErickPS4
ErickPS4

More of the same. They could have cut zombie runners. This is extremely annoying.

IamOnlyoneMan
IamOnlyoneMan

Wow, like I didn't see that low score coming. I mean, come on the first one was horrible. I have it for PC and played it for 40+ hours and it was so buggy and full of glitch's, but I swore to never get the next one coming from this company. I am glad that I didn't. I know a lot of people that purchased the game on Steam and PS3 and are complaining that the game is terrible. I really wanted to like the first one so badly, I even pre-ordered it, but it was just terrible. I was not even able to connect with my friends, the missions were all messed up when I got the chance to join a friends game. When I went back to my own I have missions that I didn't even except. I have no problem purchasing a game. I just want it to work. The first one and this one could have been great. What were the programmer's thinking? Oh, all the people that are saying "the game is not all that bad" might not have experienced the terror of the first one. For god sake, my friend that lives abroad I was not even able to connect to him..

hadlee73
hadlee73

Its actually quite fun to play, but the way the missions are structured it may as well be named "Fetch Quest: The Game".

NiksicosBR
NiksicosBR

The game doesn't look as bad as the review says... and by the way, its pretty awkward to take a review into account when the player is clearly not used to the controls... on the videos, the player is constantly kicking and punching around for no reason. He says you "simply" need to follow a pattern to kill zombies but still gets knocked down by them.

Sudieken
Sudieken

Wow, that's harsh. The game isn't even full-priced. I've been playing for two hours and it's honestly pretty fun. The only real complaint I have is the voice acting being inconsistent. Some characters sound excellent and some are really horrible. Otherwise it's very entertaining and less buggy than the first game.

Note: You can also import character saves to keep your levels/skills/weapons/inventory.

Overall I'd definitely give this game a 6.5 or a 7. It absolutely refines the original Dead Island and adds TONS of content. If you liked the first game, Riptide is worth $40 for sure.

REDDSouljah420
REDDSouljah420

The game is still fun if you're playing with your friends who aren't serious to the bone. This game is definitely a fun co-op experince!~

Episode23
Episode23

it is completely beyond me how people are actually spending money for a production where the whole world already saw their engine in part 1 and that this engine was far from being technically up to date. when do people start to realize the difference between a real effort - a new development - and a low-effort - cashing in on the same engine twice, or more. why do they want to pay for the same game over and over again? just why? what is wrong with human dna??

Wensea10
Wensea10

It seems like this game followed greatly in its predecessor's footsteps but was this game really that bad? I doubt it but that is what I think and maybe others...

Kushlius
Kushlius

Piece of crap like the original dead island

DLazarek
DLazarek

Ouch.  I am enjoying the new character, but I could see it getting a bit repetitive.  Still, 4 is harsher than I would rate it.

Iamshmee
Iamshmee

@IamOnlyoneMan Meh, I played and beat the first one. It wasn't terrible, I've definitely played worse games with better reviews. I could see buying this game for like $20 max.

ALG_82
ALG_82

@Kushlius Very insightful. Have you even played Riptide yet or is this your educated guess?

Dead Island: Riptide More Info

  • Released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    Dead Island Riptide is the second installment in the Dead Island franchise where the undead nightmare starts all over again, leaving hope drowning in the rising tides.
    6.9
    Average User RatingOut of 472 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Dead Island: Riptide
    Developed by:
    Techland
    Published by:
    Deep Silver, CyberFront, Spike Chunsoft
    Genres:
    First-Person, Action, Shooter, 3D, Team-Based
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms