Dead Island, the videogame adaptation of the popular trailer, divided opinions like machetes divide zombie skulls. For every gushing advocate of Techland's head-stoving simulator there was another screaming into their fist as the same action loop played out a million times to a backdrop of progress-blocking bugs and glitches. Well, prepare to gush or scream afresh, for Riptide is more of the same.
More an expansion in the New Vegas mould than an outright sequel, Riptide takes the four heroes from before, adds a punching expert to their ranks and drops them on island next to the original's Banoi. It's a case of out of the frying pan and into the same model of frying pan: all Palanai's resorts, huts and jungle have to separate them from Banoi's are swampland, and when 'extra swamp' is your USP, you know you're in trouble.
To be fair, swamps do introduce motorboats and on the off chance a zombie clings to the side you get to dash them against rocks, which is pretty funny. Back on dry land, Riptide's Big New Idea is a series of undercooked siege set pieces. Waves of zombies storm your barricades, with options to place fences or landmines during the lulls. But the limited strategic options only serve to remind you how Left 4 Dead achieved more with much less faff.
Yawn of the dead
At least the game is friendlier to first time zombie slayers. Characters start at a higher level, decked with colorful skills that avoid the tedious slog that opened the original. Indeed, the game cuts to the chase in most regards, handing guns and explosives in the first half hour. Returning players also get to import their character from before, though this only serves to highlight how little has changed since they last stood in those shoes.
Repetition is Riptide's greatest crime. Smaller alterations - such as AI characters leveling and slightly more resilient weaponry - are overshadowed by the sheer crushing boredom of the central action. It's a game where zombies walk towards you and you hit/shoot them. For hours on end. Yes it has funny decapitations and broken arms that swing morbidly in the socket, but Dead Island had those, too. Had them about 100,000 times over, in fact.
And we don't buy into the game as a killer co-op experience, as there's very little beneficial interaction between characters. What you're feeling isn't the buzz of great game design, but the relief of having a friend to break the monotony of island life. It's so much easier to forgive glitches, outdated visuals and flick-book framerate when you've got a friend laughing at them too, but this doesn't mean we should forgive them. Should Riptide wash up on your shore, you'd best throw it back in.
By Adam Glick
No real improvements on an already fetid experience
- Boats mince zombos up real good
- More technically stable than original...
- ...but not by much
- Zombie sieges fall flat
- Makes zombie killing seem dull