X360A Review: Dead Island Ryder White DLC
Written Wednesday, February 01, 2012 By Lee AbrahamsView author's profile
We should get this out of the way right now – there are no achievements tied to this DLC. Read that back to yourself slowly and decide if you are the type of person who buys their extra chunks of gameplay purely for a bit more gamerscore, or the type that just wants some more of that same kick ass experience they enjoyed the first time around. Made up your mind yet? Good, now that those with an interest in playing games for the sake of, y’know, enjoyment have stuck around, we can begin. However, for the sake of fairness we should point out that it was a weird sensation to play games without that familiar little noise to gauge our progress, so much so that it is hard to shake the notion that this DLC is some kind of science experiment to see how much of an achievement junkie we are.
Anyway, back to matter at hand. What we have here is another slice of Banoi Island and one that is a little more fruitful than the last offering which was the rather tawdry Bloodbath Arena. Instead you get to go hands, cleaver and pistol on with Ryder White, who was the main antagonist throughout your original quest to find a little sanity in the bastion of zombie madness that you found yourself stranded in. However, this DLC aims to turn your opinion of Mr White upside down and back to front with some story driven shenanigans along the way.
"Time to cap some fools – with a power stance."
You see Ryder is misunderstood. He is not a brash, macho man who is prepared to sacrifice women, children and cute puppies in order to fulfil his orders – NO SIR! He is in fact a brash, macho man deeply in love with his wife who is prepared to sacrifice women, children, cute puppies and adorable pandas to save her. So that makes everything okay then. In fact this DLC goes out of its way to highlight the fact that Mr White was not the main antagonist at all, but we don’t want any SPOILERZ to ruin your day so we shall leave it at that.
On the plus side this is a two to three hour campaign that helps to flesh out the story around some of the behind the scenes goings on. Due to Ryder’s military standpoint, it's a lot more focused on firearms rather than a bevy of blunt implements and pointy, stabby things (we think they are the scientific terms for the hand to hand weapons in Dead Island) so it's a refreshing change of pace. Unfortunately the developers have stumbled into almost the exact same trap as the last piece of DLC did and not played to the titles' strengths at all.
Firstly, this is a solo experience only. So no co-op fun on the menu, as Ryder is a man of action who goes it alone to get the job done. That’s all well and good, but the campaign is made up entirely of locations that you will already be overly familiar with from the main game and being tasked with running around them once again is a bit tiresome. It doesn’t help that you seem to be bombarded with foes at every turn, making even bashing a door open a more arduous experience than it needs to be. The missions on offer involve getting from A to B, or basically killing everything in sight, and the lack of variety and exploration on offer is a bit of a letdown. After the freedom of roaming the island, tackling a variety of missions and drop in, drop out fun with friends this seems like a poor man's sampler platter.
It doesn’t help that the ‘new and improved’ chain of events makes little to no sense and seems to have a dozen plot holes, nor that the whole thing seems to have been conveniently slotted together to act as a blatant prologue to a potential sequel. In fact, during the whole experience, it is fair to say that the idle banter of our party chat companions provided far more coherent fare than this DLC mustered in its entire running time. The irony here is that we would have actually welcomed a sequel regardless, and this tacked on adventure has actually left more of a sour taste in the mouth than a sense of burgeoning excitement.
With a linear chain of events, dubious plot and no ability to explore, level up or team up, this DLC manages to sidestep all of the features that made the original game so appealing. Instead you are treated to a bullet strewn rush to a confusing (and slightly annoying) finale that ties together a little too conveniently. The whole package only lasts a couple of hours and you will not get a strong urge to revisit this particular chunk of gaming change any time soon. If you want to see the whole story behind Dead Island then you will probably want to dip your toe into the Ryder White DLC regardless, but do not expect to be left with a feeling of closure, as all you’ll get is one of sullen disappointment.