Dead Island: Riptide - Preview

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Release Date: 31/01/2012

Dead Island Riptide preview for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC at GAME

Dead Island was plenty of things, but you'd be hard pushed to call it a masterpiece. It was as shaggy as the scruffiest rug, as broken in parts as a china set that's just been through a tumble dryer and as cheesy as a rotting block of Stilton. It was also, for all that, an awful lot of fun, and that's all that really matters after all, isn't it?

There was a certain shabby charm to the open-ended first-person action RPG, and it's as if someone had taped over a copy of Skyrim with a little Left4Dead on an old fuzzy VHS - it was a curious mix, but one that was not a little intoxicating, especially when shared in co-op mode with a handful of friends. It was the gaming equivalent of a dumb Van Damme action film - mindless but fun, and the perfect way to spend a Saturday night.

Everyday I'm Shuffling

And so perhaps unsurprisingly it was a success, and inevitably there's now to be a follow-up - Dead Island: Riptide. This isn't Dead Island 2 - that's to come, developer Techland has suggested, although we're likely going to have to wait until the next generation of consoles - but is instead an expansion big enough to warrant its own box.

Dead Island Riptide preview for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC at GAME

It's best to think of it not as an expansion in the mold of Red Dead Redemption's Undead Nightmare, or even the GTA's Episodes from Liberty City. It's best to think of it instead as something like Fallout: New Vegas: an all-new adventure, in a new location with plenty of new tricks to get your head around.

You now find yourself on the island of Palanai, another tropical paradise that's set in the same archipelago as the original's Banoi. It's a slightly less welcoming paradise, though, and it's beset by tropical storms that make for a moody, atmospheric backdrop. Expect swamplands and plenty of nice big puddles for you to splash around in as you fend off the undead.

Those undead come in a variety of new flavours now, too. There's a grenadier, a zombie who's got the nasty knack of tossing grenades your way, as well as the scar, a huge hulking opponent who's going to take a fair few swings of whatever you've got in your hand to take down.

Undead Until Dawn

And that combat, when it happens, is going to be slightly slicker than what came before - which is something of a blessing given how messy the original Dead Island's combat felt. There's a slightly improved weapon degradation system too, one of the many little tweaks that have been made to ensure that Riptide's a more polished effort than its predecessor.

Dead Island Riptide preview for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC at GAME

There are new mission types that help add a little variety, too, and it's here where Riptide could really come into its own. Now, in addition to fetch quests and the day-to-day business of just staying alive, there are little sections where the emphasis is on defence, and where you're faced against wave after wave of the undead.

It's superficially similar to Gears of War's Horde mode and all of the various imitators that followed in its wake, but more importantly it feels like a set-piece plucked straight from the zombie classics. You're shored up against an army of undead, constructing defences from barbed wire in the rare quiet moments in a scene that echoes Night of the Living Dead. It's a new feature that could really add something a bit special to Dead Island's formula.

And of course there's Dead Island's old formula that's also returning. It may be a bit rough around the edges, but it's most definitely entertaining, and Riptide promises to deliver another slice of schlocky Saturday night entertainment.

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Pegi Rating:

Suitable for people aged and over.



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