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Dead Island: Riptide (PC/PS3/X360 - TBA 2013)

Techland finally blew the lid off their zombie mashing sequel to last year’s surprise hit of the gaming dry season and it looks…like not a sequel at all.  And Techland would agree.  Re-utilizing more than a lot of the original game’s assets (including our four one-liner spewing leads), the developer prefers Riptide to be viewed more as a $50 expansion than a full-blown Dead Island 2.  With that, you can expect a ton of carry over when it comes to basic mechanics, balancing weapon durability, and co-op cohesion.

Opening up literally minutes after the (lackluster) finale of Dead Island, Riptide strands you on the shores of a new chain of islands which also happen to unfortunately be stricken with a zombie infestation bad enough to put smile on George Romero’s face.  Again, an awful lot will feel like deja vu if you spent enough time cracking skulls on Banoi, but there is some divergence to expect out of Riptide.

Weather now plays a bigger role in the ecosystem, bearing down on your crew realistically and randomly, firearms have gained a more prominent focus than in the original, communication between survivors has been tweaked, and a fifth, not-yet-detailed class has been announced featuring their own dynamic set of skills.  In order to prevail against the hordes, players will also have to tackle “hub defense” missions.  These missions take a big bite right out of Call of Duty's Zombies Mode and gravitate around fortifying a base from undead attack by boarding up barriers and laying down trip mines.  Not wholly original; not unwelcome, either.

I had a B-Movie blast during my stay on Banoi.  Dead Island is a unique take on the zombie game and shines during its bloodiest, gore reviling moments.  But for an open world actioner grazing the surface of an RPG, it had a dizzying lack of depth.  Hearing Techland lobby Riptide as “more of the same” is worrying, since this series could definitely benefit from some renovation, but if it only amounts to mindless fun, I can’t really fault a B-Movie for being a B-Movie, now can I?

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