Dead Island Review: Riptide

A little over a year and a half after the first episode, Techland e Deep Silver they return to the office with Dead Island: Riptide, sequel to the controversial zombie game that in 2011 literally split the opinions of players and critics in two. The previous chapter had in fact shown the brilliant intuition of combining the mechanics of an open world RPG in the first person such as the various The Elder Scrolls or the most recent Fallout with the lush setting of a tropical island and with the evergreen theme of the zombie apocalypse. . With particular emphasis on aspects such as looting and weapon customization, Dead Island had the ambition to present itself as the ideal meeting point between Capcom's Dead Rising and Gearbox's Borderlands, but blatantly missing the target due to a whole series of ingenuity of the development team and a technical realization certainly not up to expectations. A great missed opportunity then, which Techland promises to make up for with this Riptide. Will the Polish team have succeeded in the undertaking? Let's go and find out right away.


Welcome back to the island

From the very first bars Dead Island: Riptide picks up where the previous chapter left off. Our quartet of survivors, who escaped by helicopter at the end of the first game, land on an aircraft carrier, where they are immediately taken into custody by the military, interested in studying their peculiar immunity to the zombie virus. As in the most classic of the Z-movies, something will go wrong and the infection will spread first on the ship and then on the nearby island of Palanai, where the four protagonists, to which a fifth unpublished playable character will be added, will find themselves following a daring shipwreck. The gameplay is also in direct continuity with that of the first episode. The goal of the game will again be to find a way out of the island, before the military decides to nuclearize the entire area, definitively eliminating the zombie threat along with the unfortunate survivors. To do this we will find ourselves immersed in a freely explorable open world, in which the few survivors have organized small pockets of resistance against the crowds of zombies that infest the island. It will be these survivors to assign us the various missions, both the main ones, necessary for the advancement of the story, and the secondary ones, which will reward us with weapons, objects, money or experience. The game structure of Dead Island: Riptide is therefore virtually identical to that of its predecessor, to the point that one almost has the impression of being faced with an expansion, a Dead Island 1.5, rather than a real sequel. The innovations that Riptide introduces in the gameplay of the series are very few and objectively negligible. We start with the introduction of boats as a means of transport. The island of Palanai is partly flooded due to the tropical monsoons, so the game will put motorboats at our disposal to reach some locations more easily. The interest in this feature unfortunately disappears almost immediately when the player realizes that the game manages motor boats just like cars on land. Not only their role is the same, i.e. that of a simple means of transport from point A to point B, but also the controls and the physics of the vehicles are substantially identical, highlighting the performance of the vehicles as not very credible and unrealistic. aquatic. The other big news is theintroduction of some tower defense style sessions, in which the player will have to defend the base camp from the onslaught of various waves of zombies. Especially at the beginning these phases manage to greatly dampen the monotony of traditional quests, but they too are not free from defects. The artificial intelligence of the NPCs, which in theory should help us repel the assaults, leaves much to be desired, and these actually become more of a burden to the player than a real help, forcing him to run relentlessly from one side of the game to the other. base to prevent them from getting killed. Furthermore, as the game progresses, these phases become progressively longer, with an increasing number of waves of enemies, to the point of getting to bore even the most stoic player.

Team that wins ...

Elements such as the structure of the quests, the combat, the crafting of weapons, remain in all respects unchanged compared to the first chapter, for better or for worse. The missions that will be proposed to us, both the main ones and the secondary ones, basically all have the same structure: going from a point A to a B massacring everything we encounter on our way. Excuses can be as diverse as retrieving a certain object to talking to a specific survivor to collecting a certain amount of a particular material, but the result will invariably be the same. While carrying out these tasks we will have to constantly deal with the presence of the infected, nested in practically every corner of the island. These will attack us as soon as we enter their zone of action, throwing themselves madly at us and relying more on numbers and brute force than on artificial intelligence. Contrary to how it was promoted, Dead Island: Riptide is not a survival horrorindeed, it has nothing to do with this genre and its exponents such as the recent Ubisoft ZombiU. The approach to combat is not slow, methodical, studied, but frenetic, brutal, "ignorant" and also, fortunately, damn fun. Thanks to a strong arcade component and a practically non-existent penalty for the player's death, massacring hordes of zombies turns into a real pleasure, a cathartic and liberating act like the massacres in any GTA or Carmageddon. Our character will have a very large number of weapons at his disposal to make his way through the undead, both white and firearm, even if in Riptide, at least in the early stages of the game, they will be much more the first than the second to play the part of the Lion. Each weapon has unique and different strength and resistance characteristics, even within the same class and type. This variety can be further increased by modifying weapons at specific workbenches, provided you have the necessary projects and materials. Palanai is literally filled with hundreds of weapons of all kinds, knives, sticks, clubs, hammers, machetes, so on and so forth, and soon the search for the ultimate weapon will become one of the player's main motivations and attractions of the title, according to a psychological mechanism that Diablo and Borderlands players know perfectly well. Despite the enormous background repetition and the only sketchy plot Dead Island: Riptide manages to find in combat, looting and crafting factors capable of attracting, motivating and entertaining the user.

A tropical paradise that has a little water from all sides

As the game progresses, the feeling of Deja Vu gradually becomes stronger and the similarities with the first episode extend even to the visual impact. The graphics engine used, the Chrome Engine 5, is the same that moved Dead Island, and both from a stylistic and technical point of view the game is indistinguishable from its predecessor. In Riptide we therefore find all that series of technical problems that had in fact affected the first episode. Even if at times the Riptide jungle manages to amaze the player's eye, the gaze of more attentive observers can quickly grasp them many flaws of a graphics engine that is absolutely not on the same level as the more famous engines. Techland's excellent art direction goes to great lengths to create the picture of a tropical paradise that has become hell on earth, and to a certain extent it has succeeded. However, the illusion risks falling apart every time the player passes from observation to action: not very high quality textures, scarce polygonal models recycled beyond belief, non-existent physical simulation, embarrassing drops in frame rate, interpenetration of polygons, animations limited and approximate ... these are just some of the problems of a purely technical nature that the title suffers from. What's worse is that it comes to defects already highlighted in the first Dead Island, which the developer has not even bothered to review or fix, denoting a great background sloppiness and making us wonder what the year and a half distance between the two products was for. Fortunately, one of the biggest and most criticized problems of the first episode was partially addressed. Although the subsequent patches have in fact improved the situation, the first Dead Island is in fact present on the market with an embarrassing number of bugs, which seriously undermined the gaming experience. While still presenting some small bugs (it may happen that an enemy "freezes" in the middle of the attack animation, the occurrence of some minor audio glitches or that the game is not paused by the activation of a movie, leaving us at the mercy of any dangers), Riptide is very playable and light years away from the horror stories of the first chapter.

Slaughtering zombies in company

As well as its predecessor Dead Island: Riptide offers the possibility to tackle the entire story in online co-op with other players. The game is basically the same, but facing it in the company of friends, the repetition of the missions takes a bit of a back seat and the structure of the title is a bit less tedious, increasing the fun of the most excited phases. Compared to the previous episode the netcode has been improved and made more stable, with a more balanced matchmaking balancing system. By dealing exclusively with the main missions, the game can be completed in about ten hours, while with the secondary missions the game doubles or triples its duration.. The main enemy of Riptide's longevity, however, is the extreme repetitiveness of the mission structure, which could push players to avoid side quests, or even to abandon the game before completion. In this case the cooperative mode proves to be a great help as the higher general level of fun manages to provide some push to undertake further missions.

Verdict 6/10 The definition of more of the same Comment As already said several times in the course of the review, Dead Island Riptide is more an expansion than a real sequel: everything, from the graphics to the game structure, has been taken over slavishly from the first episode, including many flaws and problems. Despite a technical realization not up to the developers' ambitions and a general sense of neglect and repetitiveness, the basic elements of the game still have that idea, that spark that allow it to shine. In spite of the various problems Dead Island: Riptide, when taken in small doses, can be fun. Just like Dead Island before it, Riptide is confirmed to be a new wasted opportunity by Techland, which makes only a sufficient game, while it could have aspired to very other results. Those who did not appreciate the first game will do well to stay away from this chapter because they will not find anything that can make them change their mind, while the purchase is certainly recommended to those who have enjoyed the first episode and are not tired of it yet. Those who intend to approach the world of Dead Island for the first time can do so without problems with Riptide. No particular knowledge of the previous episode is required, and despite the great similarities, the small number of bugs and the marginal innovations of Riptide make it an undoubtedly better starting point than its predecessor. Pros and cons Based on a brilliant idea
Funny, despite everything
Good in multiplayer
Fewer bugs than the predecessor x Technically inadequate
x Too similar to the first Dead Island
x Overly repetitive game structure
x General feeling of poor care

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