The sequel to the original ‘Dead Island’ franchise doesn’t offer too many surprises, a lot of the game plays-out the same as the first one. It may have its faults, but Dead Island is still one of the better Zombie titles on the market, it is a very small market however.
It was 2011 when the original ‘Dead Island’ game was first released, and in those two-years it doesn’t seem like the developers were trying to think of anything new. What it lacks in originality though it makes up for in gameplay (assuming you enjoyed the gameplay from the first installment). In the two years that separated Dead Island 1 and Dead Island 2 this is what has been added to franchise; a new playable character, new locations, a new boat mechanic and new zombies to fight. I’m generalizing of course but I want to be very clear, if you had issues with Dead Island, do not think that they are fixed in Dead Island 2.
A lot of people however, including myself, enjoyed the original title. If you did, then this new game is a lengthy addition to the former storyline. It’s called a “spinoff” but really it’s the most expansive and detailed DLC that you could ever imagine. There are tons of Zombie games out there to throw yourself into, though usually they are part of a larger genre. Call of Duty has zombies but that is a FPS, Resident Evil has ‘zombies’ but that’s a third-person shooter; the list goes on. Dead Island ‘RipTide’ is an RPG and it really is one of the best Zombie RPGs on the market. That being said there are not a lot of Zombie RPGs that exist as multiple platform releases.
The game has all the basic elements that most RPG players enjoy: getting EXP, crafting new items, using a skill-tree and advancing through a storyline as a personalized character. The storyline is to a large extent a direct sequel of the first game (as it picks up right where you left off). I wouldn’t worry too much about ruining the story however, both the spinoff and the original aren’t exactly winning any awards for their scripts. You escape one disaster from the original game, and are shoved into the same disaster in the second game. Oh but wait, this time there’s flooding (dun dun dunnnnnn).
I was really hoping that Riptide would be much better looking than the original while in fact it’s the same. Not even an “ok” same, there are still texture issues and tearing an overall graphical nonsense that shouldn’t be in any game (let alone a sequel to a game that was already built). PC users will experience this less if you have the power to optimize it but console users are in for a somewhat patchy ride.
A lot of the story’s problems are caused by the cutscenes in the game. Tone and urgency are lost on a lot of these cutscene moments. At times it seems like the voice-actors and the animators never really got together to talk things out. It’s not outrageously terrible, but more often than not it felt like I was watching a teen-horror movie, that had been cut down to play on TV. The gameplay beats out the cutscenes and the gameplay is the same as the first title. The game is just an open-field zombie slaughterfest, but even after you’re done playing through all the storylines and boss-fights you will probably still enjoy running around the islands and killing zombies. It is just really fun to do. There are a lot of missions and side-quests to keep you busy and the game is a lengthy 25-30 hour romp at least even if your just kind of half-exploring and collecting. Here’s the annoying part, beat the game and it isn’t open-world time. You will need to load from a saved game to keep exploring.
Co-op is still terrific, and it’s the saving grace of the franchise I think. It’s a hard break because where ‘Borderlands’ is a co-op game that gets reviewed as such, Dead Island has co-op but is mostly reviewed as single-player experience. I took this into consideration for the scoring, because as a co-op game it really does shine as a terrific experience. Riptide is just lacking in the single-player department because of the bland story and standard experiences that I was accustomed to in the first game. In co-op there is the same game-mechanic that was patched into the original title. This mechanic allows each player to fight enemies at his or her level. This simple inclusion really goes a long way for co-op and should be a standard option in all co-op games. You share all the money gained and the EXP gained so there is no hoarding or animosity while playing, just fun. I think the reason why the co-op experience is better than single-player, is because most of the time during co-op games the story takes a backseat and you just want to battle with your friends. This allows the faults in the story to go unpunished and you can enjoy the game more.
So here’s the rundown. If you are a hardcore zombie-hunting fan than yes Riptide is filled with content that you will enjoy. If you have a buddy or like playing co-op the game is even better. If you plan on delving into a rich or terrifying story alone, I imagine you will find some faulty with the game. Riptide seems designed for instant fun and gratuitous violence for fans of the zombie genre and it fits the bill if that’s what you were hoping for.