Dead Island Riptide Review
Cart: Dead Island Riptide
Cab: Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC
In a year that saw little in the way of meaningful new IP, 2011’s Dead Island was a resounding success for Techland – a mid-tier, Polish developer with a steady, if somewhat muted, track record.
Arguably their most original and successful game to date, Dead Island was a satisfyingly gory, open-world grind-fest that involved limbs, guts and glory in equal measure. A buggy game by modern standards, it’s glitch-ridden, lengthy campaign made good on the promise of unfettered carnage on an idyllic, tropical island.
In many respects, Dead Island was a welcome throwback to the early days of PC gaming: expectations of AAA quality were low with a sense of fun being placed first and foremost. The relentless fetch-quests and limited narrative mattered not in the face of a zombie apocalypse just waiting for a baseball bat to the face. The very definition of a guilty pleasure.
Emboldened by the success of Dead Island, Techland wasted little time in churning out a sequel – but is Riptide pulled-under by a lack of ambition, or is it a second home-run for the plucky, Polish crew?
Hold still: there’s a fly on your face …
A bit of both, to be perfectly honest.
If you were a huge fan of the original and the only thing that you’re looking for is more of the same, then you won’t be disappointed in the slightest. Featuring more polished visuals and a new island to explore, Riptide makes no apologies for being more of the same. In fact, I can’t think of another sequel that strives to do so little that’s new or inventive. It feels like an expansion pack more than a separate title, taking place immediately after the final cut-scene of Dead Island. The menus and interface remain all but unchanged with the same characters, textures, sounds, glitches and level-design returning like an old friend looking to borrow yet another fiver.
My first few hours were a real mixed-bag, then. On one hand I was disappointed to have not seen more effort being put into a more inventive plot or a fresh setting – some new characters even – but on the other it was great to be swinging a paddle again at the zombie horde.
I getting déjà vu …
In fact, when you think about it, most zombie-themed games do little in the way of real invention between titles, with heavyweights such as Left For Dead, Dead Rising and Resident Evil being slow to make any meaningful progress. But with those titles, you get the sense that they at least tried to evolve, even if their efforts were largely futile. Here, there’s the distinct sense that there was no intention whatsoever to evolve.
It’s a strange reverse-psychology approach, I suppose – one that will likely as not polarise opinion as neatly as it parts limbs from bodies. If nothing else, it’s another strong argument against scoring a game. Depending on your point of view, it could be at one end of the scale or the other.
Zombie flavoured Marmite.
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