Published on May 30th, 2013 | by Don Parsons0
Dead Island: Rip Tide Review
Summary: Even for someone who likes zombies and loot, Dead Island 1.5 has little to offer people that played the original.
Let’s see a show of hands from people who played the first Dead Island and didn’t finish it because, while fun, the game felt flat around the half-way point. You can’t actually see it, but my hand is raised.
Dead Island had some good core mechanics and an entertaining premise, but was too buggy. Plus the aforementioned “flat” feeling towards the middle of the main campaign. So, since it had some things going for it, I assumed they would fix said-issues when they developed the sequel. You do know why one should never assume, right? “You make an ass out of you and me”.
After either creating a new character or importing your character from Dead Island, Rip Tide starts off where the first game left off. The survivors are all on a boat escaping the island of (insert island name here). Since this is the beginning of the game, I’m sure everyone can guess that something goes awry and you become stranded on a new island, the island of (whatever the fuck it’s called).
The narrative and mission structure are still very similar to the original; repetitive, uninventive, and plainly put boring.Every person I approached during the main quest-line would say something along the lines of “sure I will help you. Gladly, actually. But first, please go fetch this item that is dear to me”. The first few times this happened it was easy to dismiss. After I had spent ten hours or so hearing the same thing over and over, it had worn out its welcome. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard not to use fetch quests in a game, but this blatant overuse gets tiring very quickly.
As I progressed through the game, I found little desire to explore the new scenery. At one point, I could have sworn they recycled a small section from its predecessor. The deja vu was so strong when I wandered into a gas station, I had to double-check which game I was playing. The first half was actually the most mundane section, but most of that can be attributed to the lack of creativity when developing the environments.
When I got to the halfway point, it was not anymore enjoyable to explore (the main reason I play these open-world games), however, the story had finally got me at least a little bit curious. The plot twists were nothing revolutionary but the back and forth direction had me wondering which side of the coin things were going to land on.
One of my biggest issues was the final boss, which by no means lived up to the term “final boss”. At a certain point, I expected something dramatic, or over-the-top. Something bigger, I guess you could say. Instead, Rip Tide ends with a rather minor fight that seems like every other encounter. Nothing told me that it was the end outside of the narrative context of the showdown. One other story-related encounter made a monster out of a regular person. That example, early on in the game, seemed more appropriate for a final boss fight than the one they picked.
One good thing that carried over from the original Dead Island is the satisfying melee combat. Smashing zombies with a fireman’s axe is nothing new, but it still feels great. I had trouble switching off of my usual pieces of equipment though. The firemans axe, burning shovel, and barbed wire bat carried me through of the game until they introduced guns. For a game that centers around melee combat, there is a lot of ammo just lying around. At first, I was conservative with my ammo, but when I kept walking past ammo pickups on a regular basis, my playstyle started to change drastically.
After the disappointing grand finale, I was given the option to start a new game with my current character build. Instead, I quietly placed the game back in its case and moved on. While melee combat is strong, everything else about Dead Island: Rip Tide feels like Dead Island 1.5. There is no advancement, and the seemingly recycled sandbox I played around lacked any sort of excitement that was buzzing in the air of the original. Techland had a golden opportunity to fix the issues with the original Dead Island. Instead they delivered Dead Island: Rip Tide, a sibling to an already-stale game.