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Dead Island: Riptide - due an extra life, or best left to fester?

Matt checks out the sequel to 2011's surprise zombie hit

Our reviewer was fond of the first Dead Island, but I didn't have a lot of time for Techland's wonky undead schlock - which won't come as a surprise to those of you who saw my opinion on the Game of the Year Edition.

Following on from where the last game left off, Riptide features the same four characters bumbling through a different part of the verdant tropical island, which seems to be turning into one big lagoon. Monsoon season means deep dark storms, and gigantic puddles that you'll have to wade through.

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The setting looks different, but otherwise it feels like business as usual - which is either great news or a mild disaster, depending on where you sit. My brief chat with the game's Lead Creative Producer Sebastien Reichert left me feeling more confident, however.

"The best thing we had from the 4 million sales was the feedback," admits Reichert, before outlining vague plans to improve the inventory system interface, particularly in terms of highlighting weapon degradation. I haven't seen the fruits of these intentions yet, but it's encouraging to see that Techland isn't looking back at the first game with delusion-tinted glasses.

Hopefully it won't fluff up the basics, because some of the new stuff looks really cool. The water-logged levels mean that you'll get to mince bodies with a motorboat while your buddies stop zombies from trying to climb onboard, and the new emphasis on defensive missions should play up to the genre's strengths.

If you're played Call of Duty's Zombies Mode, Riptide's barricade system will be immediately familiar - asking you to use nearby materials to reinforce a fort to try and stop the hordes from getting in. New weapons like the C4 mine should make the task much more entertaining.

Returning Dead Islanders will be cheered to know that level-scaling means you can import your old character. Guns will be more plentiful this time, too. Techland is adamant that Dead Island remains a melee-heavy game, but promises that players who've grown used to using guns won't be thrown back to planks of wood in the sequel.

If more of the same is enough of a treat, this sequel is likely to make you happy. When it comes to pleasing those who found the first trip disappointing, though, Riptide has a lot of work to do. Let's hope Techland can turn all the critical feedback into something that's genuinely worthy of four million sales.

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