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Dead Island: Riptide Review - Better Off Dead

Susan Arendt | 22 Apr 2013 13:44
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It doesn't help that Riptide often seems to be actively working against you. Your walking speed is a foot-dragging slog reminiscent of a fourth grader on his way to the first day of school. A new addition to combat, the ability to do a one-hit-kill jump on enemies below you, works wonderfully...sometimes. The rest of the time Riptide apparently assumes you were just joking when you hit the button, kind of like that time you said you wanted to jump across a gap but you what you really wanted was to totally not jump and instead fall to your doom. You'll also get stuck on pretty much everything, but most especially doorways. Riptide will occasionally freeze up for a few seconds when you select or reload your automatic rifle and has a tendency to chug horribly when there are too many zombies going through death animations at the same time.

As frustrating as all of the technoglitches are, they might be dealable if there was anything or anyone to care about in Riptide, but there isn't. The new zombie types are more annoying than challenging, most particularly the drowners that clog the many swampy or flooded areas of the island. It was quite interesting that the "heroes" of Dead Island were such unlikeable, ignoble people, as it turned the typical survival scenario on its ear. The story of Riptide just can't compete as it shambles through familiar tropes and plot twists, and characters that were once intriguing antiheroes just become mouthy complainers.

The game also smacks of a certain amount of laziness when it comes to its environmental details. With so many zombies running around, it's perhaps unreasonable to expect each one to be distinct, but you'll find yourself facing entire groups of clones. You'll probably get a good laugh out of the whiteboard you'll find in the military stronghold the first time you see it, but the same exact whiteboard - complete with a joke about blueberries - shows up four or five more times. In one room, two of them are set up next to each other. Zombie hideouts and strongholds are identical right down to the way litter is scattered across the floor, to the point that it's easy to forget which ones you've cleared out and which ones are unexplored. It's game design by cut and paste.

Bottom Line: All of that said, Dead Island: Riptide isn't a game you have to play for its characters, story, or finesse. If you want to kill stuff with your buddies, this can be a decent way to do it.

Recommendation: Proceed with caution. If you're willing to forgive its many sins, Riptide is shallowly enjoyable, but don't expect to care much about anything other than your kill count.

This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.

Game: Dead Island Riptide
Genre: Action
Developer: Techland
Publisher: Deep Silver
Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Available from:

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