Review: Dead Island: Riptide brings little innovation, yet loads of satisfaction

Dead Island: Riptide

Dead Islandwas one of those titles that lived and died (mostly) by its infamous trailer. You know, the one that plays backwards as we see a family get brutally murdered by zombies. Oh, and a little girl dies in it. Yeah, that one. And while the game certainly didn't live up to the trailer, it still offered a grim survival horror story set on a tropical paradise. The story didn't end there for our four protagonists though, asDead Island: Riptide continues the adventure. Does it fix the problems of the first game to deliver an even better tropical zombie apocalypse?

Riptide picks off right where you left off. Your four zombie-immune survivors make their way to a ship where they meet newcomer John Morgan, a fifth character who specializes in hand-to-hand combat. Of course, the ship crashes on a nearby island and, well, you can guess the events that follow.

You can import your saved character from the previous game, which will include his or her amassed levels, as well as any previously unlocked skills. Starting from scratch, however, puts you at a fairly comfortable 15th level, which allows you to unlock some pretty useful skills right off the bat. You'll certainly feel the effects of your levels immediately, and you won't feel as helpless as you did in the first Dead Island when you started out.

Dead Island Riptide

The island of Palanai is a much more exciting setting to explore, mainly due to its heavier focus on water. Rivers and inlets are a source for new zombies, ones that initially float like dead bodies but then jump up to grab you. In general though, the tropical paradise setting compliments the zombie outbreak theme in a way that makes players feel uneasy. The fact that I can get consistently creeped out by zombies appearing behind me while the sun is reflecting off a blue ocean is a testament to the developers' skill at creating a setting that is as beautiful as it is dangerous.

You can rest easy knowing that, once again, you don't have to face the zombie apocalypse alone. You can bring up to three friends with you, which makes the experience that much better. Trust me, you'll want your friends along for the ride.

So what's new in Dead Island: Riptide? Turns out, not much. At least not on the surface. Riptide is very similar to Dead Island in almost every way. You'll still be hacking away at zombie appendages, repairing and upgrading the various colored loot you find, running around and completing random side missions that amount to little more than fetch quests, and furthering the story through a fairly long main quest line.

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