video game review

‘dead island riptide’

Grade: C

Details: for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3; $49.99; PC, $39.99

Zombie stories never have happy endings. So when the heroes of 2011’s “Dead Island” made it out alive, you knew there had to be a catch.

The catch is that any video game that isn’t a complete flop gets a follow- up these days. And as “Dead Island Riptide” begins, the zombie virus has infected the ship that rescued the survivors — and they soon wash up on another undead-infested tropical paradise, called Palanai.

So it’s time for the gang — Rapper Sam B, hotel clerk Xian, ex-cop Purna and jock Logan, along with a newbie, a Navy cook named John — to sharpen their machetes and get back to work. You can play as any one of the quintet, and you can team up with friends online to try to even the odds against the ravenous hordes.

The core zombies, called Walkers, are easy to kill mano-a-mano but can take you down quickly if they gang up on you. Other creatures can strike from a distance, throwing explosives or vomiting acid. The Suiciders, who explode if you get too close, are the deadliest until you scrounge up some firearms. The most troublesome new “Riptide” monster is the Screamer, whose wails render you briefly confused and powerless.

This is not a moody character drama such as Telltale’s “The Walking Dead,” the landmark episodic game that won so many industry awards last year.

Indeed, it’s closer in spirit to the awful “Walking Dead” game Activision published this year — it’s all about the thrill of lopping undead heads clean off. The unapologetic gore and squishy sound effects are amusing for a while, but start to get old after about five or six hours.

That’s when you realize “Riptide” is essentially the same game as its 2-year-old parent.

Lou Kesten, Associated Press

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