One would almost feel sorry for zombies, were they not mindless consumers of human flesh.
Not only are they (a) dead, and (b) without genuine charm as individuals, they are also the scapegoat for every major social problem ever conceived. Barely a day goes by without another video game, novel or poorly-constructed Hollywood movie emerging to document and rehearse their ritual slaughter, with a paper-thin satirical subtext to add insult to post-mortal injury.
Which is to say that Dead Island: Riptide - a not-quite-a-sequel, standalone extension of the 2011 action-survival horror game Dead Island - is released this week.
And man do you kill a lot of zombies in it. And how bored you are of doing that pretty much sums up whether you should play it.
Dead Island: Riptide shares much with the original game, from the graphics engine to the tropical setting. Apart from a brief intro set on the boat upon which the original four survivors escaped last time around, which promptly sinks, you'll spend most of your time on a lush island resplendent with zombies, killing them.
Fortunately, the violence - while horrific - is satisfying, and the zombies start tough and gradually get tougher, leading to a pleasing sense of accomplishment as you tear off limbs and roast roaring undead corpses with fire. There are also a few new types, among them a screaming zombie who can literally scare you stiff.
Aside from mincing the undead with a wide variety of melee weapons, traps and guns, you'll also be doing a lot of collecting items, upgrading your loot, levelling up your skills and completing fairly generic missions in the cause of an irredeemably silly and low-rent story, which isn't really worth relaying in great detail but basically involves surviving and hacking different stuff to pieces.
The game is best when playing in co-operative multiplayer. With three friends taking on the other roles, Dead Island: Riptide gains a level of tactical depth and fun that is severely missing in single-player, while avoiding the deeper AI problems (which are many).
One neat feature is that the zombies scale to each player's level, meaning even a level 50 zombie-slaying death-weilder can play alongside a noob, without bothering either party.
The problems with the game are numerous, however. There isn't much variety, the missions are often dull, the graphics are way off the state-of-the-art and the RPG-lite system of levels and upgrades can be tedious when all you really want to do is let off some steam against the Old Undead Enemy.
Worst of all, it's not actually all that fun most of the time - and for new players it's unforgiving, with many core gameplay mechanics left unexplained until it's too late.
Ultimately there is nothing here that should make you go out of your way to pick it up, unless you really loved the original. Or really, really like being mean to zombies. Poor devils.
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