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Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare


Living or (un)Dead, John Marston kills them all the same.
In a world where DLC has become the norm and often comes with a hefty price tag, one company stands above the rest in terms of value for the dollar attached to a major game. Rockstar rewarded “Red Dead Redemption” fans with a tremendous co-op DLC pack titled “Outlaws to the End,” free of charge. Since then, two more multiplayer centric DLC packs have arrived, “Legends and Killers” and “Liars and Cheats,” both priced at 800 MS Points ($10), which when compared to “Modern Warfare 2” players shelling out 33% more for a few maps, is very significant. Now, Rockstar has decided to punt the bar up to a new level with “Undead Nightmare,” another 800 MS Point DLC pack that just doesn’t add content for multiplayer, but introduces brand new singe player campaign.

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If the title wasn’t a giveaway already, the new DLC is zombie centric. Existing as a separate entity from the single player story (think of it like a new reality, similar to the one created in the reboot of “Star Trek”). John Marston, back at home with his wife and son, soon gets his world turned upside down yet again, as Uncle comes crashing into the house on a eerie and stormy night, biting his wife. On his way to the barn to fetch his gun, his wife attacks their son, and John is forced to put Uncle out of his undead misery and subdue his now zombified family. Unwilling to kill them, Marston sets out to Blackwater and finds, this isn’t an isolated incident, a new hellish plague has swept the land.

Game play is identical to the original “Red Dead: Redemption” but a few unique twists are added. Since this is a zombie plague, no shops are open, which means Marston will have to watch his ammo, only acquiring it through looting corpses and helping out survivors. To add to the tension, headshots are the only way to stop the shambling masses, which can quickly overwhelm you in a pack. If you do run out of ammo (I never personally did), you can always fall back on the new addition of a torch, which sets the zombies on fire and can be used for a quick execution up close. Marston’s arsenal increases as the game progresses, earning better models of weapons as well as some new creations including exploding zombie bait, holy water and the blunderbuss. Notably, I found myself utilizing every class of weapon in a much more even fashion than I did in the original game, as sometimes I’d be running low on rifle ammo and have to switch to a shotgun, until I could replenish my reserves. Every weapon has it’s pros and cons, with the heavy hitters coming at the price of frequent reloading, leaving you vulnerable to attack.

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The main narrative takes across the US portion of the map for the majority of the playthrough encountering a familiar cast of supporting characters, some merely cameos, while others like Nigel West Dickens playing major roles. A few new faces pop up too and are quite memorable, but are generally gone after a few short quests. The original voice cast is back too and their efforts are just as strong as in the original game. Initially, many of the missions seems like fetch quests, with Marston forced to find certain plants and parts for Dickens, with the zombie encounters only punctuating the end of each mission. Rockstar is fully aware of how boring these can get and actually add a line from Marston to Dickens regarding that character’s proclivities to send the hero on shopping sprees. However, it’s not too long before hunting down zombies is your primary goal, and by the end of the main story, which does head south of the border, you’ll get your fill of headhunting (pardon the lame pun).

There are some new diversions in addition to the main quests. Cleansing the graveyards (which is initially a story requirement) tests your skill and speed with the gun as you are tasked with burning coffins and repelling the hordes of zombies crawling forth from the ground. Every town from the original game is back and they all need your help killing off the invasion, with some smaller outposts having a dozen or so, while bigger places have three times that number. Challenges return with the highlights including some hunting of undead animals and the capture and breaking of the Four Horses of the Apocalypse, each with their own unique ability, ranging from infinite stamina to instant kills of any unlucky creature that crosses it’s path. The game also throws in three mythical creatures that you will encounter, that are sure to make you smile. I’ll save the latter two for you to discover on your own, but one is none other than Sasquatch himself.

If you play through at a steady pace, you’ll clock around four to five hours on the single player narrative, but still have plenty to do in the ensuing free roam (don’t worry, the game has a perfectly good explanation of why the zombies still remain). At only $10 for such a great presentation, the single player portion of “Undead Nightmare” is really a steal, especially in a world where four to five hour games are very real and come with a $60 price tag. However, Rockstar wasn’t content to leave it at that. They’ve added a few token pieces to the multiplayer portion including new characters, a regular Free Roam game play mode titled Land Grab which is the equivalent of King of the Hill, and Undead Overrun, a zombie themed survival mode for four players. Overrun tasks the humans with finding a coffin, destroying it and then fighting off a wave of zombie foes. Each new wave ramps up the difficulty and forces players to work cooperatively, rescuing downed comrades and providing cover for the poor soul tasked with attacking the coffin. I’ve regularly managed to make it through wave 10 and 11, but poor teamwork has thus far prevented me from hitting the milestone 15th wave that has an achievement attached. Speaking of achievements, “Undead Nightmare” provides 300 more points, with two achievements being multiplayer specific, while the rest you’ll unlock in single player.

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Graphics

  • The graphics are consistent with the quality of the original game. The environment does have a much more drab look to it, making the land look as dead as your foes. The special animations on the Four Horses of the Apocalypse are quite pleasing to look at.

  • Some of the zombie animations are a little hokey and show the limitations of the graphics. A few graphics hiccups arise from time-to-time, but nothing players of the original haven’t seen before.

Audio

  • As mentioned above, the great voice cast is back and they didn’t phone anything in. Dialogue is just as sharp as the original, but with an extra level of humor, as the story doesn’t play things deadly serious.

  • Sound effects are top notch, adding in some new atmospheric sounds. It can be quite unnerving fighting off a horde of zombies out on the plains and hear undead moans behind you as you are reloading.

  • Music is appropriate for the theme of the game, with a couple of interesting additions including a puzzling, but enjoyable surf-rock composition that plays right before you head to the game’s final showdown.

Conclusion

"Undead Nightmare" is a great piece of DLC. A solid, well produced, and very funny single player story attached to an already stellar game engine, it’s hard for any “Red Dead: Redemption” fan to pass this by. Undead Overrun is arguably the better of the two multiplayer additions and should really appeal to fans of co-op game play. Even better, if like me, you haven’t picked up “Legends and Killers” and “Liars and Cheats” you can get those two pieces of DLC and “Undead Nightmare” for only 1600 Microsoft Points, essentially giving you three DLC packs for the price of two. Lastly, if you are for some reason, a person who hasn’t played the original game, but find zombies to be your bag, a standalone disc based version of “Undead Nightmare” will be coming very soon for $30. It will feature the single player “Undead Nightmare” campaign as well as the complete “Read Dead: Redemption” multiplayer experience with all DLC, a bargain unto itself. Either way, this is how DLC should be: well made and affordable. Highly Recommended.



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