Friday, 10 May 2013 11:32

Two games to avoid: Dead Island: Riptide and Star Trek


It’s time to drop the praise and ward people off a couple of new releases that don’t come up to the mark.  Dead Island: Riptide is hoping to ride the zombie themes rather tattered coat tails, whilst Star Trek is everything we hate about film tie-in video games.

Let’s not spend too much time on these; I know, I know, but seriously I don’t get paid enough to wallow through bad code for extended periods.  Still, let’s get to the nub.

Dead Island: Riptide sees an all new “adventure” for the survivors of the first game, which amounts to being shipwrecked on a whole new island, but doing the same old thing over again; bashing the heads of zombies in, and collecting things for other survivors.

Initially there is fun to be had here – particularly if you are not completely zombied out by now due to the saturation level prevalence of these shambling undead in popular culture.

Your character can utilise just about all objects in the world as weapons, either throwing, swinging or shooting at the ever-spawning zombies that get between you and the next waypoint.  Items degrade at a rapid rate, but can be repaired and upgraded at work benches and thus begins the digital cold war.

This is the major issue; most games throw up the potential for gaming the game systems at some point in their life.  For Riptide however that is almost immediate.  It is apparent right from the start that as you level up the game will throw harder types of undead into your path, essentially meaning there is no real point (apart from getting to see all the nasties) to stay and fight for XP.  Instead it is better to simply run past.


This is easier said than done for movement feels like the tropical air is clawing away at your character’s stamina as effectively as being caught by a bikini clad zombette.  

This game suffers from comparison with my own recent replaying of Borderlands 2.  The free-flowing combat of that game is at odds with the unenjoyable claustrophobic battles in Riptide.  Granted it adds to the level of tension, but that itself is soon degraded (just like the weaponry) by the poor location design, character models and voice acting.

On the voice acting briefly, the groans and torment of the zombies is captured well, but hit a former sunbather with a crowbar and it is disturbing how suddenly human the cries of pain are.

Given the Far Cry 3-like setting, it’s a shame that Riptide doesn’t hide its game structure better, the locale is certainly beautiful – for a horror based game, but mechanics of the underlying code are just too obvious and ruin even the fun of the Australian/New Zealand accented characters.

Generally, Dead Island: Riptide is a bit of fun, and it would be unfair to use the obvious pun of ‘avoid this like the plague’.

Equally unfair would it be to do a full review of Star Trek: The Video Game - This new-movie-tie-in-game is, on the surface, everything promulgated as wrong with these sorts of games.  Supposedly taking place between the recent reboot movies, the game does what it needs to do in getting the actors likenesses ok with wooden (even by Vulcan standards) voice acting provided by the same.

Star Trek is a difficult franchise to bring to the modern gaming palette, for, if the developers were to stay as close to possible to Gene Roddenberry’s original vision for the series, there would be a de-emphasis on action.  

Of course that doesn’t cut it in the interactive medium, so we get lots of phaser pew-pew, with a Star-Treky nudge to ‘set to stun’ rather than lethal levels.  

The disappointing thing – and I haven’t completed the game, so perhaps things improve later – is that, with this classic license there is so much fodder that could be used in a video-gamey way.  Let’s make some star-fleet captain decisions, let’s fit out an away-team for exploration of new worlds or let’s have a go at diplomacy with an alien race.  

Clipping and other technical issues abound, including some hilarious moments where, if playing single player, the AI partner (be it Spock or Kirk) performs classic pathfinding issues, running into walls, climbing consoles for no reason and generally performing all sorts of unpredictable antics at inappropriate times.  Now that I think about it, maybe that is indeed the Kirk way.

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Mike Bantick

joomla visitor

Having failed to grow up Bantick continues to pursue his childish passions for creative writing, interactive entertainment and showing-off through adulthood. In 1994 Bantick began doing radio at Melbourne’s 102.7 3RRRFM, in 1997 transferring to become a core member of the technology show Byte Into It. In 2003 he wrote briefly for the The Age newspaper’s Green Guide, providing video game reviews. In 2004 Bantick wrote the news section of PC GameZone magazine. Since 2006 Bantick has provided gaming and tech lifestyle stories for, including interviews and opinion in the RadioactivIT section.



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