Dead Island; Riptide – (video game)

Image I like a good zombie joke, but the delivery is usually stiff.

I found the first Dead Island game (Xbox 360) to be an uneasy, relentless parade of one tense scenario after another. I describe the first Dead Island game because this one is pretty similar, without so much of the “unknown” to keep you guessing.

Dead Island: Ripped Pants…I mean…Riptide immediately follows its previous story with our four heroes being transported by ship to “safety.” We have every character returning from the original, which I believe are just the Captain Planet Planeteers all grown up and grizzled. There’ s the cocky white guy, the even cockier black rapper, a black cop in a mini-skirt, and an Asian agent who I kept waiting to scream “Hi-yah!!!” They all appear to be immune to whatever virus has caused the beautiful island of Banoi to become a buffet for the undead.

The thing I love most about this series is that there are countless survival horror games out there taking place in creepy labs, mansions, forests, ghost towns, etc. This one take a beautiful backdrop of a tropical island and litters it with things that go chomp in the night. The contrast initially plays a psychological game where you know you’re surrounded by white sands, sunshine, and crystal blue water, yet you can’t relax because of what may be waiting to bust through your perfect world. It’s like being a young girl on a football field and having a pro-football player bust through the cute homemade team sign with a bottle of Rufinol in his hand.

This first person sequel never lulls and never falls short of monsters. Yet, it does become quite repetitive and the story is rather thinly stretched across the gameplay. Yes, I get it. The government is bad and people are working on weapons at the expense of humans. The characters have only minor growth from beginning to end, leaving you caring only about the character you are playing. I always play with Xian (but never in public). The other characters are mostly irrelevant to the the overall story; merely victims awaiting suppertime.

I did appreciate two new villains added to the mix; there’s the Screamer, which is like a zombie Mariah Carey with a metal device on her cranium. She’s apparently half-nude, but with her lightning speed and disorienting scream one would hardly notice. The other is the Granadier (or something similar) who pulls off hunks of infected flesh and throws it at you. That’s just nasty.

The settings are not any more frightening than the original. The weapons aren’t any more powerful. The story isn’t any deeper. It’s not a bad game, they just failed to push any envelopes (what the hell does that mean, anyway). The abrupt conclusion left me rather underwhelmed.

It’s worth a play if your goal is to slaughter some things. Don’t expect any emotional attachment to the game, like the first had the potential to offer. In my opinion, this makes it less scary.

In the end, it is a brainless breeze that’s safe to consume.

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