LEFT FOR DEAD

Deep Silver brings a controversial zombie hack and slash rpg styled game back from the dead. But will this sequel bring fans and newcomers onboard the zombie apocalypse genre or will it be hacked into the ground never to get back up again.

Back in 2011, Deep Silver released the first Dead Island game which was a success, giving a new refreshed melee combat emphasis in dealing with the undead horrors that terrorised the once holiday paradise of island resort Banoi. Coming back again to revisit another island horror, players are brought back to Palanai which is another part of the Banoi archipelago. After thinking they’ve finally escaped the zombie outbreak, the players fall into the hands of a shadowy agent, and end up back on an island.

Nothing here is fresh or new in the matter of the zombie survival genre as that everything has been used and the story will feel old as you try to find a way off the island and escape…again. As the story progresses through each chapter, it gets a little bit more intense as you are getting closer and closer to your destination but yet so many obstacles are in the way of getting there. There are a few surprises along the way but nothing that stands out to be remembered, most likely forgotten as how all things should be in a zombie apocalypse.

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Using the same graphics from the previous title, nothing looks different or outshines in this sequel. Much of the landscape is mundane from your typical tropic forestry filled swamp to your close quarters indoor of old World War 2 tunnels or the tight suburban streets of Henderson. Many of the environments are reused from the original game but just changed a little to make it feel different. The only new areas and addition to the Dead Island Riptide is the “Dead Zone” areas where champion boss zombies lie waiting with some of the game’s rarest items, mods and crafting equipment.

With addition to some new area’s that players can easily access, there is a new character that can be played who is an ADF soldier, John Morgan (whose backstory can be accessed through his dairies which are found throughout the game in hard to spot areas). Even with a new character to play, those who previously played the first game can import their character over retaining their level and skills, which makes it useless to start a new character. Although the enemies are scaled to the player’s level, the enemies are generally much harder and tougher now which creates a challenge at most for veteran and new players. Still, Deep Silver concentrates on making the game to be played as a co-op multiplayer, as skills from different characters will benefit one another and with the easy option of jumping into any player in the area.

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New enemies and the same set of tools to dispose of them doesn’t feel as good as it did the first time around. As how the mechanics were from the first game, cutting and breaking limbs were unique features in an action RPG game. It reduced the capabilities of the enemies attacking you but it doesn’t matter much since most enemies will fall from one or two well-placed hits excluding the tougher champion type enemies. As part of the story, you get to go around on a speed boat, but it just feels like a car with turbo features in water where ‘Drowners’ are the only type of zombies able to latch onto the vehicle.

Strangely enough, the one part of the game that actually is quite fun and challenging and hoping to have more scenarios are the hub defences where you have to set up defences in your ‘safe zones’ against the zombies who have found a way into your camp. This is the only part of the whole game that is truly exhilarating as you face against hordes of zombies that are relentless. Apart from the hub defence scenario’s, the rest of the game is as plain as slashing a ‘walker’ trying to grab you. What probably keeps you playing is the loot and rare items that can be looted from every possible interaction icon you see on screen.

Sounds and music comes and go and there seems to be glitches of ‘intense’ music playing, cueing you that there is a boss battle to begin while you are simply walking into a safe zone encampment. While the AI’s randomly talk all at once when you come towards them, which gets quite annoying when you just want to get with your zombie killing and don’t want to be distracted. Nothing sounds better than modified weapons that does electricity and fire damage as you set zombies ablaze in a pillar of flame or electricity and hear them scream in agony.

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Any player can go through the game singularly and complete it easily straight through without veering off to complete any sidequest in simply less than 5-8hrs depending on the difficulty. It can be boring and lame lopping off the arms of zombies, decapitating heads, and stomping on fallen zombies heads by yourself. It is a lot more fun playing with a group of friends heading off together killing zombies as that you are not worried about taking things carefully so you can run and plow through the areas like a bulldozer.

Overall, Dead Island Riptide lacks a lot to make it a great game and the enemies are still the same even if they hit harder. The story is old and isn’t creative enough to keep you engaged with the main quest, let alone the sidequests which don’t offer much distraction from it. Apart from its co-op multiplayer, not many will bother teaming up with friends since the campaign can easily be completed in less than 8hrs with not much to offer from additional aid. As earlier stated, if the hub defence scenarios were made more frequent or as a separate mode, Dead Island Riptide would have been a lot more fun. Other than that, it is a game that should be left on an island for dead.

Developer: Techland
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release Date: April 23rd 2013 (Xbox 360 – Reviewed, PS3 & PC)