Game: Red Dead Redemption – Undead Nightmare
Genre: Action, Adventure, Horror
Format: PS3, 360
Price: 7.99, 800 MSP
Release: Out Now
Red Dead Redemption – Undead Nightmare is the latest add-on content for the seminal wild west adventure from Rockstar Games, released just in time for Halloween and now whipping up a dust storm on both XBox Live and the Playstation Network!
Undead Nightmare sees players once again take on the role of John Marston as he searches for a cure to combat a freak zombie mutation that has suddenly swept the country. The surprisingly gripping story will often have you on the edge of your seat and the particularly horrifying intro which sets the tone nicely and gives the game a real sense of purpose from the get go.
Despite the rather grim nature of the quest the humour and absurdity of the situation is never forgotten and this is reflected well in the dialogue with some really snappy one-liners from Marston and company. Just listening to the townsfolk in full panic mode is incredibly entertaining especially when it comes to their views on what they think caused the outbreak to begin with. For example: the shop owner, Herbert Moon, blames the zombie invasion on a British catholic homosexual conspiracy! Quite how he (or Rockstar) came to this conclusion is frankly anyone’s guess but it’s certainly presented in a tongue-in-cheek manner and not to be taken at all seriously.
This adventure also sees the return of some other fan favourite characters from the original story and without too much of a spoiler some of these once beloved characters are now not quite so welcome so prepare to get your hands dirty!
Gameplay in Undead Nightmare clocks in at around 6 hours but as with any sandbox style game you could certainly add a few more on to that should you decide to embark on every quest, save as many people as you can or simply go sightseeing in the moonlight.
The flow of the game is much the same as in Redemption and as before the bones of the title sees you head from person to person and town to town trying to find out just what in tarnation is going on and how the heck you can stop it! There are a plethora of side missions which range from helping survivors lost in the wilderness get back to an unaffected town or helping the towns themselves if they have been over-run by zombies The rewards for saving towns and cleansing graveyards can be very motivating, especially if you are in need of a better weapon, extra ammo or even a bed for the night – which, in true Red Dead style, means your character can get some much needed sleep whilst you save your current in-game progress.
You will find most of your time will be spent running and gunning down zombies instead of relying on stealth. This suits the pace of this particular chapter as the undead are surprisingly swift and if they spot you hiding behind a barrel for instance, trying to be a little too crafty, they will come running and clawing at such a fast pace you will have no choice but to beat a hasty retreat… or better yet, start praying!
The ‘dead eye’ feature really comes into it’s own this time around and if you find you have a little distance between you and an approaching zombie horde it will provide you with much more precise aiming. I recommend the head-shot as a sure-fire final solution. I’ve yet to meet a zombie who rose again after their dome was blasted clean off their rotting body!
There is a lot of time spent on horseback so this will colour your experience depending on whether or not you enjoyed this aspect of the original game. However, some of the trudging can be negated by completing side quests and ensuring towns are completely free from the zombie scourge as this will enable the fast travel feature between certain areas on your map.
A really great bonus, exclusive to this add-on is the hunt for the four horses of the apocalypse – presumably belonging to the four horsemen – War, Famine, Pestilence and Death! These legendary stallions appear randomly on the map and when found can be broken and ridden. Each of these mounts also has a special ability that will help you in your mission to end the zombie plague.
- Pestilence: Surrounded by a cloud of greenish mist, Pestilence has infinite stamina and a very high pain threshold.
- Famine: Surrounded by a swarm of locusts, Famine also has infinite stamina.
- War: Has amazingly high stamina (not infinite, although near impossible to diminish) and anything its fiery mane and hooves touch bursts into flames.
- Death: Has infinite stamina as well as a ‘wind of death’ circling it. Handily this wind causes the zombies’ heads to explode on contact! (My personal Favourite)
Online Game Play
The brand new online multiplayer mode, Undead Overrun, is a co-op survival mode for between 2 and four players which sees you working together to see how long you can fend off seemingly continuous waves of flesh eating zombies. At the start of each game you and your teammates each select a weapon from a selection that consists of the Ravager, Overkill, Long-Shot and the Mauler. All of these weapons are pretty good and all get the job done but if you are after something with a bit more bite then I thoroughly recommend the Overkill as this particular weapon packs a quite a punch when it comes to quickly depleting the zombie masses.
Each multiplayer map takes place on a desert plain with just the odd building scattered here and there for cover. Of course there’s always the church and what church is not complete without a graveyard – the perfect setting for a zombie takedown, just watch your back!
Although cutting through the first few waves is pretty easy the difficulty is quickly ramped up and becomes challenging and energetically paced. After stage 7 having 3 or 4 players really becomes the ideal and continuing to proceed much further with less is quite literally a monstrous task. More is most definitely merrier here – at least when they are on your side!
Graphics and Sound
Once again Red Dead offers up some pretty remarkable visuals with breathtaking vistas and some very atmospheric weather adding a spooky sense of doom and gloom. This visually stunning weather changes throughout with a denser fog usually hanging over infected areas like a heavy grey beacon. As usual, the cut scenes are detailed and character animation is smooth and varied both here and in the game itself.
The soundtrack is absolutely spot on and exactly how you might imagine a zombie-western to sound. Sound effects add to the ambiance with a notable stand out being the quickening pace of zombie feet as they scramble toward you.
With such a successful franchise as the supporting frame this off kilter add-on had a lot to live up to and rather than being the point where Red Dead ‘jumped the shark’ this innovative and lovingly produced chapter has actually added a unique spin to an already compelling story. The old west meets zombie mash-up works much better than I had imagined and although I am not a big zombie fan I feel like I have been converted – to a fan and not a zombie of course! Creatively mowing down zombies turned out to be incredible fun as was riding horses that were, quite literally, on fire! What more could a girl want… except for maybe a canyon jam-packed full of zombies and and a fully loaded Overkill!
The story never feels shoe-horned into the Red Dead world and the main game always flows well, with just the right balance of zombies to kill and and survivors to rescue. The interaction with NPC’s is also spot on and their growing panic and paranoia really makes you feel like you are in a full-on zombie invasion.
The online mode is fun and very addictive although not for the faint-hearted if you are playing with less than 3 in a team. The teamwork and quick reflexes required to survive make for some seriously immersive gameplay and more than a few ‘jump out of your seat’ moments when things get tough.
The ending to the main game also features a really great twist which I will not spoil here. Needless to say it’s definitely worth downloading and playing for yourself just to find out…
For only £7.99 or 800 Microsoft Points I really can’t recommend Undead Nightmare highly enough. Although Halloween has just passed and Christmas is only a weeks away you really don’t need a seasonal excuse to wail on a few zombies, especially when the quality of the product is so high. At around 6 hours of solid gameplay in the story mode alone you certainly get your money’s worth.
Word has it that this is the Last add-on for Red Dead Redemption and if that’s true Rockstar have closed the book with a real bang… followed by a blood curdling scream… followed by a bang!
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare is available now on PSN and Xbox LIVE. The expansion will also be released on disc, along with all the previous DLC packs on November 26.
I give Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare …