But the fetch quests. Oh so many fetch quests. About 80% (TG\’s estimate) of the game\’s large array of story and side quests involve getting some MacGuffin for someone, which then leads to getting another Special Thing for someone else. It doesn\’t take long before this gets wearisome. Most every quest giver in Riptide treats players like errand boys, which makes progressing through the game more of a slog than it should be. This was largely the case in the original, and it\’s the case again here.
Adding to this sense of repetitiveness is the game\’s combat, which, like the first Dead Island, is a mostly melee-based affair. Especially in the game\’s first half, players will have to make use of crowbars, batons, baseball bats, sledgehammers, axes and the like to get through the undead. These can all be upgraded with a range of nifty modifications for extra damage, and many of these are still a goofy good time to use (barbed wire baton! electric katana!). But that doesn\’t change the fact that players will have to spend most of their hours mashing the right trigger button to get through horde after horde after horde of flesh-eaters.
Yes, beating down zombies becomes ho-hum when it\’s the only thing to do. The baddies become more like annoyances than monsters after a while; they too often feel like chores that are in the way rather than credible threats. The only penalty for dying is waiting a few seconds to respawn right back where one previously was, which often puts players in a tedious cycle of bash until death, respawn, and repeat until everything falls over.
There\’ll be players who won\’t grow tired of this – and, admittedly, hopping into a car or boat and plowing through foes doesn\’t really get old – but there comes a point where all this \”dumb fun\” becomes too mind-numbing.
Thankfully, Riptide opens up a bit midway through and allows for more varied gunplay and explosives alongside the typical bashing. But it\’ll take some perseverance to get there, and even then the shooting, while sufficiently satisfying, doesn\’t differentiate itself from the legions of zombie shooters that have come before it. Just aim for the head and keep marching along.
From a technical standpoint, Dead Island Riptide isn\’t as riddled with bugs as its predecessor, but it\’s still far from polished. The production values here are simply subpar for a 2013 release: Animations are stiff; characters\’ faces do not emote and are sometimes weirdly textured; NPCs will repeatedly and simultaneously spout off the same line of dialogue whenever a player passes them; there\’s significant slowdown when too much action occurs onscreen at once (TG played the Xbox 360 copy); there were multiple points where TG could simply walk through a door or wall entirely; and the touted weather effects aren\’t much more than random bouts of rainfall that instantly appear onscreen with almost no gradual transition. The game isn\’t much of a looker when it\’s working either, though Palanai\’s size and sense of interconnectedness are nice.
It\’s absolutely crucial to note that the majority of TG\’s time with Dead Island Riptide was spent playing solo. Playing with others online does not excuse any of the game\’s many faults, but it makes overlooking them much easier. There\’s no local co-op – which is a deeply unfortunate trend of recent multiplayer games – but Riptide\’s drop-in, drop-out online play gave TG no issues during its time with the game. Players can link up with a friend or nearby player in just a few seconds from the pause menu – allowing them to gain experience, trade weapons, take on missions or just go joyriding through the island together.
Riptide instantly becomes more enjoyable with other people. The massive amount of collectibles to find and enemies to kill here make it clear that the game was designed for multiple players, and the aforementioned base defense missions are particularly smoother when players can count on their partners to watch their backs. Deep Silver even sent two copies of Riptide to reviewers to ensure that they tested the multiplayer too.
But then again, what game isn\’t improved with friends? Like Dead Island, Dead Island Riptide is a better game with others. But unless they\’re fans of the original, why subject one\’s pals to a game this unambitious? With its monotonous mission structure, character tropes and combat, perhaps Dead Island Riptide\’s greatest trick is the way in which it puts players into the rotted shoes of zombies themselves. It\’s Dead Island, back from the dead – the corpse has been propped up, but the life is long gone.