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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Review: Dead Island- Ryder White (Xbox 360)

Ryder White's campaign add-on for Dead Island is a little bit of a departure for the game. But you know what? Changing up even a winning formula can sometimes be a good thing.

Now if you didn't finish the full retail game, I'll spare you the gory (ahem) details and simply say that Ryder is not actually a 'new' character- in fact, he's kind of the bad guy from the main quest. You might be thinking that sounds like a strange choice to make the protagonist of this add-on campaign, but trust me, it's not. And it actually works to great effect.

That barrel might be explosive you know
Techland has crafted a pretty cool adventure for Mr. White that you might enjoy even more than the main game. Much to my surprise, and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip that Dead Island sent me on the first time around, I did. Sure the game had its issues, but it tried to do something different with the whole (and very tired) zombie theme, and that's what made me smile.

As an action/RPG of sorts, the game offered a lot of customization for your weaponry. It actually made you think about how you could go about attacking and defending against enemies at higher levels than you too. Even though we're not talking Skyrim here, these are elements that your usual zombie infested game more than likely wouldn't even touch on.

So with that in mind, it might seem a little odd that developer Techland decided to go a different route with Ryder White's campaign. While the other four playable characters were (mainly) melee focused in their attacks, you'll find a lot more projectile weaponry in the Ryder White campaign. Ryder is a military man (a soldier) by trade, so it does fit that his particular part of the game would be more gunplay oriented, and it is.

Shocking... sorry.
That isn't the only change either. The Ryder White campaign has a way shorter play time and completely unique (well, not completely) storyline, so those of you thinking that this is just another character added to the playables can think again. Also missing in action is leveling up as Ryder has a set play level that doesn't change throughout.

Caged hunting
What you're probably thinking now is something along the lines of, "with all these changes, is it still Dead Island?" The answer is yes, but with an asterisk. The affirmative because all the visuals of the main game are intact and the areas of the island will be recognizable for players of the main game; the asterisk because this is so much more of a decidedly 'action movie' affair.

Don't get that wrong though and see a negative. I really liked the Ryder White mission. It was actually pretty nice to have the faster pace in place of the more deliberate, slower, and waaaaay longer (some would say too long) quest from Dead Island.

I should also mention that I'm not much of a multiplayer fan, co-op or otherwise, so I didn't miss the online components very much. If you enjoyed teaming with a pal, well, you're out of luck because Ryder doesn't play nice with others. If you like your zombie-killin' solo with a side order of M-16 though, you just might want to dive into Ryder White's Dead Island crusade. There's a decent amount of newish action to be had and (if you're not sick to death of the undead yet) a whole lot of zombie shooting to be done.

- Jason M





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Review: Dead Island- Ryder White (Xbox 360)
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