Dead Island is the zombie game you have in your head. It's the conversation you've had with your mates in which you discuss whether you'd be better off grabbing the hedge trimmer or the cricket bat from the garage in the event of a zombie attack.
Dead Island doesn't make you double-hard like Left 4 Dead or ready-qualified for zombie-fighting like Resident Evil. It doesn't make light of the fact that zombies want to eat your brains, like Dead Rising does.
Rather, Dead Island chucks you into a scenario in which zombies are on the rampage (or amble, depending on which zombies you encounter) on an island with a believable level of resources and an open map to go at and challenges you to survive. Fortunately, developer Techland has substituted whatever slightly dull town you're from with a tropical island resort.
This is the structure of the game - talk to folk, get missions, complete missions, wander the island of the dead. It's a case of finding your own way to survive, including what weapons you should use. Don't think you can arm yourself with a bat and a shotgun at the start of the game and be on your way - for starters, that kind of desirable equipment is hard to come by, and secondly it wears out. Slightly reminiscent of Dead Rising, though, is the inclusion of work benches where you can mod, repair and upgrade your weapons. There's also a skill tree for you to navigate, so you can hone your zombie fighting skills.
Dead Island: Riptide
Riptide follows the template set out by the first game, with a few additions. For one, there are 'team quests'. Team quests are basically 'Fetch Quests.' They can come in handy; each member of your team will contribute their bit towards upgrading and defending the base as you complete team quests for them - electrifying fences, providing you with mines etc.
'Fences?' you ask. Yes. Riptide introduces hub defence missions - your base is under attack from horde after horde of hungry undead, so it's defend or die. You're able to set up barbed wire fences as a wall of defence before the zombies break through and start mindlessly flailing their arms about.
As always, melee weapons are customisable - baseball bat, nails, basenailbat. Cloth, lighter fluid, shovel, fiery-deathshovel. You get the point.
Riptide focuses a lot on water rather than land, so boats are your best way to get about. Don't expect to be taking nice leisurely trips along the river, though. You'll often find that some of the floating dead aren't actually dead. These zombies will jump aboard the second you give them a chance, and you have to be ready for the quick-time event to kick them in the face as they lunge towards you. Thankfully though, boats have speed boosts. It's always been fun driving around splatting zombies in a Jeep, and mowing towards them in a boat is no different.
As well as focusing on water, Deep Silver has decided to add weather changes to Riptide, so you might find a sudden storm breaking out while you're fending off a huge horde of undead.