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Dead Island: Riptide: PS3 Review

By Darren Bevan

Published: 11:22AM Monday May 20, 2013

Released by Deep Silver
Platform: PS3

Zombies - they're all over the place in the sequel to Dead Island. In Dead Island Riptide, developer Techland's meshed the horror and the survivor genres back together again to produce a bloody mess of a game. Picking up where 2011's Dead Island left off, you find yourself back on the island of Palanai which has been overrun by the undead.

But fortunately along with your other survivors (or solo mode) you're able to negotiate your way through the land, merrily killing everything in your way and trying to do your best to survive.

The game begins with the survivors from the first Dead Island getting on board on a ship and thinking they're clear of Banoi as they can be. But thanks to a zombie overrun turning the boat into a shipwreck and being stranded on a new island, Palanai, it's back to how it used to be - and a bloody hacking fight for survival once again....

Dead Island Riptide is one of those games that's actually a little more fun when it's in co-op mode. While you begin with the chance to choose a character, and a chance to decide if you want to skew your skillset one way or the other, then you're on a safe course to ensuring some kind of survival as the hordes mass. But as you get a feel for life on the island, you begin to realise there's a whole world around you.

In story mode, it's the usual case of doing missions, gathering items, trading up weapons and slaughtering as much as you can. Thankfully, the developers Techland have decided the best way to ensure that your interest is continually kept in this game is to fill the beaches up with loot and other survivors who give you the chance to interact and take on further missions. It's a good way to keep yourself amused, though occasionally odd frustrations over what the landscape will allow you to do emerge; for example, you can wade through water but if you hit some parts, you can't go any further, despite there being views beyond. 

Here is world where there are plenty of quests scattered about - from providing pain killers needed for someone ill within the compound or finding and saving other characters, there's certainly a whole heap to do in this open world game rather than just kill. But it's the killing which will keep you amused; from hacking at limbs to bloody effect to precisely decapitating zombies (Decapital punishment as the trophy calls it) there are plenty of bemusing and bloody ways to kill them off. It's not just all about the killing though - you have to repair and upgrade your weapons, which degrade over time (as they're wont to do with so much hacking going on) as well as upgrading your own personal skills from lock picking to crafting weapons. Given that you can pick-pocket the dead after they've been thrashed and can trade with co-players, there's certainly a hint that some kind of strategy will need to be in place to survive Palanai rather than just opting for fight or flight. There are also quests, secret files to collect, dead zones to clear and radio tapes which give you info about the outbreak, indicating there's more than enough to offer you different types of games - whether you want to just pick up Dead Island Riptide and go postal for an hour or tap into the survival instinct and longer term game.

As for the zombies - from thugs, walkers to ogres to rabidly fast runners who head towards you, there are varying levels of skill on hand from the undead. Thankfully, though, there are plenty of weapons to help you out - from a meat cleaver which is totally gory in its killing, Freddie Kreuger style finger slashers to a club with nails, there are certainly enough ways on hand to despatch them in bloody fashion - but you should be aware that while you skill up, so do your enemies so you're going to have to get wise to how to survive.

The gameplay of the story mode is certainly entertaining - if a little repetitive - but it's in the co-op that this game soars. As you pretty much settle into the mentality of killing as much as you can, wherever you can and with whatever you have to hand, it's good to have some mates or some online players along for the ride. Usually, it's a combo of kicking and punching the undead into one final oblivion but with a stamina bar on screen determining just how much strength you've got to unleash your anger, you have to be a bit calculating with your moves. For example, if you keep kicking rather than let your stamina recover, you will take a lot longer to do any damage whatsoever; whereas if you give yourself time to power up, a couple of kicks and punches will see off the undead. That said, if you're part of a pack of survivors, taking it in turns to dish out the beating will give you all a chance to recover and will easily see off the zombies.

From what I can tell, Dead Island Riptide's not messed with the formula of the first; it's simply taken the game to a new location, added in a few more zombies and weapons and simply decided to let you loose on it. It's fun in a short blast kind of way; but long term Dead Island Riptide will find you needing a bit of stamina of your own to see it through its clunkier moments and slightly repetitive way of doing things.

Rating 7/10