Review – Dead Island Riptide

By: Louis Edwards

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One of the most anticipated zombie smashers of 2013 is set to be released upon the World. Does Dead Island Riptide live up to the hype or is it just another dead man walking?

Read our review to find out.

 

Trapped on an island with no way off. Zombies are everywhere and all you have is a pile of nonsense that includes a baseball bat, a circular saw blade, some duct tape and a lipo battery. Lying in the corner, on top of a barrel, you find a rolled up blueprint for something that just might even up the odds between you and the zombie horde. The blueprint is for the Ripper Mod and the upgraded creation is called a Bleeding Baseball Bat. Slicing and dicing your way through the hordes, and onto your next destination, just got a little easier, but only a little.

 

DIRCrew

Welcome back to the world of Dead Island. In the end of the first game, our four heroes were being whisked away in a chopper en-route to a military ship somewhere off shore from the island of Banoi. This ship was supposed to be the answer to their prayers, their respite from an island of chaos and death, and their salvation. Turns out it was only the calm before the storm as they are incarcerated by a new villain and then it’s out of the frying pan and into the fire as the zombie infection takes over the crew. You must fight your way from below the decks and through the hordes just to get topside where a massive tropical storm is battering your vessel and threatening to dash the ship upon the rocks of the island of Palanai.

The storyline for Dead Island Riptide is well written, with a few twists and turns along the way that might surprise you, and will definitely entertain you. The introduction of a new villain, as well as one new playable character and several new non-playable characters, adds to the overall depth of the story. Returning from the original Dead Island immune crowd are Sam B., Purna, Xian, and Logan, each with their own combat specialty ranging from blades to guns to blunt objects. Our newest member to the party is John Morgan, a second generation ADF soldier who’s specialty is hand to hand combat, that also includes the effective use of his feet.

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Captain John Morgan

Which character you decide to play with is entirely up to you and, as a bonus for Dead Island players, you can import previous characters from that title into this title. While you won’t be bringing any of your weapons over you will be bringing your skill tree, player level, and special moves you had previously unlocked. This is a nice feature for those dedicated Dead Island players who worked long and hard to build up their previous characters to unforgiving levels and wish to keep growing with them. Keep in mind that a Level 50 Sam B. will be going up against Level 50+ Zombies, so it’s not exactly a cake walk using your previous characters. The story is also personalized for each playable character, so playing through the game using the different characters will give you a slightly different experience each time, albeit the same story arch.

For those of you new to the series, combat is comprised of taking on zombies using any means necessary. Some items lying around can be used as weapons, and this can range from a small crowbar, a plank of wood, or a boat oar. Sticks and staffs can also be found lying around, but what you really want to look for are the locked chests stashed away in different places. One of your skills available to you is lock picking and it is strongly recommended that you use your skill points as soon as possible to get that skill up to Level 3. Being a master thief is the key to the best possible weapons, so be sure to keep that in mind as you fill out your skill set.

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John Morgan’s Skill Tree

As you take out zombies and complete any of the eighty or so quests that eventually become available, you’ll earn XP which in turn will slowly increase your player’s rank. Moving up to the next plateau in turn unlocks a new skill point which is then applied to your skill tree. Each player has their own skill tree, and each player also has some unique skills that are only available for them. For example, our friend John Morgan is great with his hands, so he has some hand to hand skills that aren’t available for Purna or Xian. The skill tree menu shows you where you are as far as current level and also tells you how much more XP is needed to reach the next level.

Once you find higher quality weapons, like baseball bats or machetes, you can find the nearest workbench and make these weapons even better. As you walk around the island, keep your eye out for searchable items like luggage, trash cans, crates, buildings, and even dead bodies. Not only is it possible to find weapons, but more importantly you’ll find cold, hard cash. This cash is needed to upgrade your weapons to make them more effective and more durable. Let’s face it, using a baseball bat on a zombies head is going to cause that bat to wear out and eventually become a useless piece of lumber. Even Albert Pujols and Pablo Sandoval need replacement bats sometimes, so why would hitting home runs with a zombie’s skull be any different? Your weapons will wear out and you can only upgrade weapons that are at 100%, so keep an eye out for a little hand icon or a little gear icon which denotes a searchable item, and be sure to grab everything you can.

(Pro tip: If a zombie lying on the ground has a hand icon on it, it’s done for and is safe to search, but if a zombie lying on the ground doesn’t have a hand icon on it, stomp first and ask questions later.)

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Q: Fully upgraded weapons are great and all, but is there a way to improve upon the aforementioned bat or machete beyond just the standard upgrades?

A: Funny you should ask, because there are! A nice sharp machete is great for chopping off heads and limbs, but can be made much more effective if you can get your hands on a blueprint for a handy dandy High Voltage Mod. This mod makes that machete not only good for slicing and dicing, but also adds a nice disabling feature for those pesky zombies that want to stay upright a little longer.

Legal Disclaimer: Be warned that even when dead, an electrified zombie can, and will hurt you if you decide to step on it, and the publishers of the aforementioned blueprint can not be held responsible for your own stupidity. /End Disclaimer

Weapon crafting has long been a staple for standard RPG’s and Dead Island Riptide gives its own take on this feature. Blueprints can be found hidden in quite a few different places and they can also be rewarded for completing different quests. The blueprints give you the ability to mod your weapons using ordinary household and garage items to make your weapons much more effective. Each weapon has it’s own damage scale, along with how much stamina it takes to wield it, and using mods makes these weapons exponentially more effective. There are character level requirements for weapons, so make sure you can actually use a weapon before investing all of your hard earned cash into it.

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Dead Island Riptide also brings with it a new hub defense mode that will have you holding off what seems like a never ending horde of attacking zombies. This brings out another new aspect of the game, the strength of your team mates. Each character has their own weapon level and there are a set of three quests for each character that can upgrade them. These are generally completed by giving them items you have found lying around and are usually denoted by the text of their name being the color purple. Having them upgraded for these hub defense encounters is a definite plus, as they aren’t very effective at their original level.

Other non-playable characters that are interactive are upgradeable as well. There are several characters that you can purchase items from and upgrading these folks will give you discounts on their prices. These characters sell items like health kits, weapons, ammo and items specific to mods. Their inventories may change upon leaving and re-entering an area, so if you are missing a certain item for a certain mod, checking back with them is always a good idea.

We can’t really talk about a zombie game like this without introducing you, the zombie slayer, to the newest zombies that will be found along your journey. While some of the zombies were available to slice and dice in the first game, the newer creations are much more aggressive and deadly. As you encounter the many different types of zombies, they’ll be added to Dr. Kessler’s Casebook. The Doctor plays into the story along your way, but he is the foremost expert on all things genetic and mutant.

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A few boss zombies are variations of other types of zombies in the game, but are not as simple to kill. Butchers are pretty tough to kill to begin with, but the Ogre version is ten times harder it seems. Of all of the new zombies that we encountered, our most feared, and toughest of all, is the Screamer. This chick is the biggest pain in the ass in the game and taking her out with anything other than an electrified gun will cost you your life. The game does have guns, but most zombies are more easily taken out with melee type weapons like swords and bats. If you play as Logan, throwing weapons work OK against screamers, but they better be upgraded and modded, and you better have the boomerang skill unlocked.

STFU Please

STFU Please

One of the biggest complaints in the first Dead Island was the fact that when you died, a scenario would be reset, the zombies would go back to full health, but your items would not return to the same amount or same health as the previous checkpoint. If you used all of your grenades but ended up dying before the next checkpoint, you would restart at the previous checkpoint with zero grenades. With Dead Island Riptide, when you die the zombies are not reset, and you can go right back after them, taking up where you left off. This comes in handy with the bosses and with the other hard to kill zombies like the Thugs.

Also improved this time around are the graphics. The original looked OK on the consoles but looked much better on the PC. The console version, while maybe not as good as a high end PC, equals the graphics on most mid range PCs, which is a definite step up. This is a great looking game with impressive level design, character detail, and zombie creations are great to look at. New vehicle additions also add to the available level design by giving you a boat so that you can traverse waterways as well as trucks for traveling around on the dirt roads. We aren’t talking about some fancy speed boat, but your little sampan can zip through the areas, taking out any zombies floating around, with ease and agility that makes it fun to drive.

Multiplayer returns and the jump in and jump out feature makes the game a very fluid multiplayer experience. Opening up the game lobby will give you a list of players that are “nearby” which means they are very close to you in both player level and game progression. You can also invite players from your friends list, but if they are at a different area, one of you will have to change their course to accommodate the other. Difficulty ramps up the more real players you have, so don’t think having four players in a game will make that boss easier to take down.

Our only complaint for the game came near the end of the story. Without giving anything away here, you are given a choice to complete the game or to continue to free roam around the previous levels and complete all of the incomplete quests. If you want to see the ending, the choice you make will reset the story completely and send you back to chapter one, albeit with all of your weapons intact and your player progression intact. For those of you that want the elusive Platinum Trophy, you’ll have to play through the entire game again since the game has an autosave feature that doesn’t allow you to save right before making that final decision. If you are going to play through as multiple characters then it’s not a big deal, but if you have no intentions of playing through again, you will have no choice if you want that Platinum.

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Overall Stat Tracker

The original Dead Island had all the makings of a game that could vie for Game of the Year awards, but it was marred by a few technical glitches and limitations. Techland took input from their first title and applied that to Dead Island Riptide and created what is a serious contender for Game of the Year for 2013.

10

The Final Verdict

ProsCons

  • Well designed Zombies
  • Weapon Upgrades and Mods are AWESOME
  • Well designed levels
  • Great graphics

  • New Game Plus starts the story over

VerdictRPG Perfection
Rating
100%
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