Preview: Team-up to survive in Dead Island: Riptide
Ever since I saw Dawn of the Dead I’ve yearned for the perfect zombie survival game. Dead Island was close, but a little unfinished. Thankfully Deep Silver has a second bite at the genre. At a hands-on session I went native to see if this is a step forward or Z-grade trash.
Zombie killing is not for everyone. From Left 4 Dead to Dead Rising there is sick sense of joy to be had bashing in heads and fragging groups of ambling bodies. As a horror fan from way back, I have been desensitised beyond repair and find the whole experience in general rather therapeutic.
Dead Island: Riptide may be super violent, but under the macabre exterior this zombie culling first-person shooter (FPS) offers one of the best four player co-op experiences around. Deep Silver has taken a good long look at what worked and didn’t in its first title, and set about trying to build a much more enjoyable and less buggy world than the original Dead Island.
Players still get access to the four original heroes, all with different play-styles to diversify the game for everyone involved, with an additional fifth character, John Morgan an Australian naval man who loves fisticuffs and spouting Australian colloquialisms. All team members have different special moves and skill trees based on their preferred weapons and the level of customisation is huge for those interested in really personalising the playthrough. Once you’ve chosen your character you’re tossed back into the fray after the events of the first game, conveniently on to another island forcing you to face off against a new horde of the undead.
The new island is visually arresting. I could almost describe it as paradise if I wasn’t constantly being attacked by scores of the living impaired. The locations feel a lot more diverse ranging from nice resort hotels to open rivers and shanty towns. Navigation is still a little awkward with very little path finding, just a marker on a map so getting lost happens regularly. This may have been in part to our team getting distracted by groups of zombies just asking to get wailed on.
The four of us made a pretty good team, (consisting on myself and Dave repping rawDLC, Dan Wilks from Hyper and James Cullinane from Gameplanet NZ) and cohesion is really important this time around. Apart from reviving downed team mates, players can now undertake missions to liberate small settlements opening up opportunities to upgrade weapons and restock during times when you are stuck with nothing but a small stick or a broken boat oar.
There are a lot of the new abilities at your disposal, such as making traps. Some areas even supply turrets and can now be fenced off to tactfully slow or direct the hordes during protection missions bringing with it an element of tower defence Large weapons like mini-guns can be used for crowd control and you can utilize benches to create bombs and Molotov Cocktails to keep walkers at bay.
Weapon customisation has had a decent overhaul as well. Items collected can be strapped together to create various uber-weapons just like the first game, however Deep Silver has decided to have a bit more fun with it, offering creations like a flaming skull mace. Another perk in weapon customisation is vendors in small towns now offer items for a reasonable price to save hours of digging through trash piles, often key resources needed to build new weapons. These are ideal for back-up in times where you are being over run.
Sadly, Dead Island: Riptide still suffers from the same level of glitchiness as its prequel. During the playthrough the dead were still getting stuck on edges and corners, weapons were still vanishing into thin air when thrown and a lot of clipping issues caused aiming difficulties. However, much like the horror genre itself, one must push past these issues to enjoy the mindless fun it can provide.
Dead Island: Riptide is everything you need in a co-op hack-and-slash. Zombie lovers will feel right at home behind a nail bat or any other home-made weapon the game has to offer, and anyone with a stomach for mindless and often hilarious violence with find this title endlessly entertaining. Those willing to overlook its flaws will be rewarded with a challenging, fast paced bloodfest supplying hours of enjoyment and laughs.