BADGP Reviews: Dead Island: Riptide
Dead Island Riptide (Techland, Deep Silver)
Review: …If it’s still broke… Don’t fix it?
April 26, 2013
It would prove difficult not to make the arbitrary and expected mention of the original Dead Island’s beautiful and artistic trailer that in no way accurately depicted the game that consumers ultimately received. So there it is: the trailer does not accurately depict the game. That’s fine. I’m over it. Upon completing the original Dead Island, I was excited to see what they would next. Dead Island was a great game hindered by technical flaws, some poor design (particularly at the end of the game), and peaking too early. I was near horrified upon realizing that Dead Island Riptide is a virtually unchanged game from the original. If you liked the first Dead Island then it makes sense that you would enjoy Riptide if you have little to no expectations for improvements over the original and somewhat broken game. I unfortunately had high expectation for a sequel to Dead Island; especially due to the large sales figures of the first one. It is with this frustration and complacency that I review Dead Island Riptide.
Dead Island Riptide is a 4-player cooperative, first-person shooter/brawler. There is a strong emphasis on melee combat, but guns are present and nearly required at the end by the game. It takes place in an open world and is quest based. There are oodles of side quests, but they are almost all fetch quests including some that never go away (ever present quests). Riptide is a disappointment in almost every way imaginable.
More Technical Problems
The game is ugly… still. There are some decent environments, but the character designs are largely awful and the animations even worse. There is a lot of pop in and clipping with a large assortment of graphical glitches including zombies being frozen in place, getting stuck on the environments, and problematic delays when changing weapons at times. A nice exploitable glitch includes the ability of backpacks and other containers to magically refill as the player reenters a room. There are challenges in the game that are rewarded with experience and one of them is about opening containers titled, “Treasure Hunter,” is easy to achieve with this exploit. It should have been a warning sign when the game was priced under the standard $60. One should not be surprised the lack of quality with this title, but it does not lighten the massive disappointment of the squelched potential.
Early in the game, I was placing barricades around the team’s “fort” and my character frustratingly stated, “Why am I the only one doing this!?” He voices the feelings of the masses that enjoy the occasional JRPG. Why does no one else help!? Riptide attempts to justify it by Immune people being the only people capable of serving the non-Immune. Riptide is a cooperative game with up to four people; so playing it by oneself is a little dull. This does not make up for just about every mission being a fetch quest. Several of which are really boring, for example: walking back and forth four times to load gas cans onto a bulldozer that the player does not even drive! This, of course, would be slightly alleviated if there were three other players with me, but there were not. The characters are very bland and the story is forgettable and silly. There is a touch or corporate and military espionage/corruption, but the end of the first game felt like it was building to more than what is present in Riptide. The game still has a cumbersome feel to it and the combat is far from smooth. A problem that arose that I did not recall experiencing in the first was how Riptide seriously struggles with its combat in relation to elevation. If an enemy was above or below me I would not be able hit them but they were able to hit me. This was incredibly frustrating. The game fails on almost every front. As stated, the quest design is tired, the combat can be exceptionally glitchy and unresponsive, the game is technical mess, the story is boring, and the characters are cookie-cutter. I forgot to mention the game has terrible voice work as well.
Then What is Good?
Despite my continuous stream of vitriol aimed at Riptide, I cannot say that playing it was a waste of time or that it should be entirely written off. Much like the first Dead Island, Riptide wears the player down until he or she is ignores the problems the game has and begins to actually have fun playing it. This game is completely a game and it is completely playable. Dare I say… I actually had some fun while playing it… Yes I did have some measureable amount of fun with my time in Dead Island Riptide. During a middle section that was likely the worst part of the game involving a lot of riverboat traveling I was fortunate enough to have another person enter my game (without a headset) and was genuinely helpful in aiding in the tasks at hand. This assuaged what would have likely been a completely fun-less romp back and forth on a river that required fetching a motor to empty a tunnel full of water. The ensuing hoard-mode like section was much more exhilarating when there was a person to share the tension with, even though we were not communicating. All in all, Riptide has a couple of good moments, and the combat works well enough for it to generate some semblance of fun.
Concluding on Dead Island Riptide
I like the original game over Riptide. I had fairly low expectations for the new IP despite the alluring cinematic trailer, but I enjoyed it enough to thoroughly expect great things from a sequel. It turns out that Riptide is more like an expansion pack framed as a cash-in on the original’s financial success and is little more. It felt more like a Dead Island .75 instead of a Dead Island 1.5 due to the complete lack of progress and actually moving backwards in regards to some technical aspects of the game (the elevation stuff really bugged me). Ultimately, Riptide was not nearly as distinctive or memorable as its predecessor. Dead Island had its resort, then the city followed by a jungle and a prison. Each area was memorable and distinct (but unfortunately progressively worse). Riptide, however, is not. It blurs together in a rush or rain and water. Despite being a miasma of disappointment, Dead Island Riptide has several shining moments of cooperative or solo goodness. The combat is good enough and makes for a fun time in spite of its near-crippling technical problems.
BAD: 5.9 of 10 (with 5 being average)
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