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May 28, 2013
Dead Island: Riptide - PS3 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
26/4/2013OneToAnotherDeep SilverTechland12-4
Media HDD Install Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating
Disc5MB720pNoNoMA15+

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Dead Island Riptide is on PS3.
It was October 2011 and European developers Techland release a melee based action zombie game called Dead Island. Admittedly it wasn't the best game, but a strong marketing campaign and word of mouth saw the title sell over 4 million units on PS3 and XBox 360. A sequel was inevitable, and less than two years later that sequel is here, picking up where the last game left off.

They thought they had escaped the terrors of Banoi and survived the apocalypse on a corrupted paradise. Then their fate took a turn for the worse... The Dead Island heroes (Xian, Sam B, Logan and Purna - the latter of which we played the game with - are now joined by John Morgan) escaped in a helicopter to the safety of a military ship, but when a furious storm hits and the virus suddenly spreads throughout the crew, the nightmare starts all over again, leaving hope drowning in the rising tides.

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This is in-game with the HUD displayed.
If you've played the original Dead Island you may want to note that you can actually import your character so all their stats and unlocks will carry over into this game which is a nice touch. For those unaware Dead Island is a first person action title with a strong focus on melee combat - it's possible to hack off parts of enemies including limbs and heads. The game starts off with a wonderful sequence set on a ship which isn't too dissimilar to a couple of other high profile games of late, but once off the ship it's back to a very dangerous tropical island setting.

As we mentioned in the review of the original game, when you complete quests, defeat enemies or complete side quests you earn experience which sees you character leveling up, and earning skill points as a result. These skill points can be used to purchase new abilities or upgraded stats for your character in an RPG-lite fashion. It's also possible to mod your weapons - and doing this can certainly give you an edge. A wooden cudgel for instance is a pretty weak item, but modify it so it's on fire allows you to set certain "gas surrounded" zombies alight.

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Battles in Dead Island Riptide are frantic.
So what's new in this sequel. Well the new location certainly has a lot more water and as a result boats are now a major mode of transport. The new location brings with it some new zombies to hack apart, and a new character to play the game as, as well as a new defense type game where you need to put up barriers, and defend the waves of zombies. Finally the developers have included a weather system which provides some variety, but it also comes and goes rather abruptly and is quite jarring. Other then that this is pretty much the same game as the original so the same positives, and negatives, can be applied here.

Dead Island: Riptide supports 4-player co-op multiplayer and it's a pretty slick experience with the ability for people to jump in or out of the game at any point (there is an option to turn off online gameplay if you so desire), but it's a pretty slick experience with little lag and certainly provides a few more entertaining moments and thrills.

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Water takes a large part in Riptide.
Admittedly we weren't alone in our complaints with the original title but what makes this sequel disappointing on many levels is that the developers simply haven't made any real changes or improvements to the title. In fact, even on bootup they have added in a stupid sign-in for Facebook connectivity, but even if you decline, upon every bootup it reappears. Argh! Irritating. Anyway as the issues in Dead Island: Riptide are pretty much identical to those in the original game, the next few paragraphs have been copied from the original review.

So let's talk about the issues in the game, and there are quite a few. Nothing here breaks the game as such, or makes it terrible, but there's just so much here that makes you wonder why it wasn't fixed or polished off prior to release. Certainly the worst of these saw us, on more than on occasion, unable to complete a mission as a zombie had become stuck inside a building rather than outside - so we couldn't kill him. Restart mission time - although fortunately it's only a few minutes of lost game time given the regular auto saving and shortish missions. There's plenty more smaller niggling issues though...

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It's not uncommon to have multiple enemies attacking.
Why is cash such a big issue? I mean you spend half the game running around opening suitcases but in a world where survival is key why should it cost you money to repair your weapons at workbenches? Likewise some of the goals of some quests seem a bit strange. In some you'll find survivors desperate for food or drinks, but there are Energy drinks and Snacks littered all over the place to top up your health bar - why don't they just eat and drink them?

Another annoyance is that when you kill a zombie, or open a suitcase, you may see cash or items available but need to physically point the targeting reticule to pick them up, surely walking over, or close to, the bodies or bags should be enough for the smaller items. Fortunately when you find some guns - which are a fair way into the game we might add - ammunition is automatically picked up.

Ultimately one of the biggest issues is that you never really die in the game. Sure you get killed, but after paying off a percentage of your money, you're back into the game only a few meters from where you were killed. On many occasions it's simply a case of rinse and repeat a section until you complete your goals.

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Enemy design is often impressive
Don't get me wrong though, the first game was a very entertaining hack and slash game with some RPG elements including character upgrades, weapon customisation and repairs. It's just that the developers really haven't advanced the game much at all, in fact it seems like a retread and disappointing as a result. With that in mind too we have to ask why the rating for this sequel is R18+ when the near identical original was rated MA15+.

It seems that the developers spent most of their time working on the new locations and missions for this game as the visuals remain largely unchanged from the original title although there are a few new enemies that you'll encounter along the way. That's not saying they were terrible - far from it in fact - but the developers have seemingly done little to reduce the amount of clipping issues, although the large screen tearing issues are now gone. It must be said that the range of characters and enemies encountered throughout the game is quite varied. Animation is still somewhat rough at times, but when you consider that you can hack off the limbs of enemies it's a fair effort on an aging system.

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Dead Island Riptide has detailed levels.
Audio in Dead Island Riptide is pretty solid as well with a range of dialogue, music and effects that suits the games tone perfectly. While visually impressive in a "B-movie" style the cut-scenes will be remembered for their audio more than anything with some pretty average scripting, and delivery that ranges from among the best game voice overs to among the worst. It is amusing to hear so many Australian accents thrown in for good measure - it seems most Pacific Islanders speak like us! Still, the dialogue and cut-scenes are often a highlight of the game.

The original Dead Island was a surprisingly entertaining game despite a number of technical issues, but rather than improve and expand this sequel is a near carbon copy in a new location. While it's fun to hack off limbs and explore the vast locations on offer, the technical and gameplay issues hold the game back from greatness. Compounding the issue is that this game offers little new, although the defense mini-games are a fun addition. Ultimately we expected Techland to push the series to new heights, but it's more of the same.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSThe game world is large, open, detailed and looks great. Some glitches remain.
80%
SOUNDOn average the dialogue is improved, while music and effects are solid.
75%
GAMEPLAYIt seems more like an expansion rather then improved franchise. Still, combat is fun.
71%
VALUEVery few changes and improvements over the original makes this feel like and overpriced expansion.
60%
OVERALLThe first game was entertaining, but this sequel is just more of the same with little new to get excited about.
68%

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