Friday, 12 November 2010

Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare DLC

Red Dead becomes Undead in this new DLC that successfully combines the Western genre with Horror so that shooting zombies never looked so cool

Rockstar have graced us with an odd add-on that takes the original game and completely changes it by adding zombies into the Wild West without taking itself too seriously. You start as John Marston again on his farm as his dead Uncle attacks his family and turns them into zombies. After tying them up, he vows to find a solution to help them and so the action begins.

Rockstar have taken advantage of the current Grindhouse trend and given this a B-movie cult horror genre feel by exploiting it in all the right places and being completely self-aware. The zombies move realistically and can only really be put down with a shot to the head and when you do shoot, instead of a typical gaming 'blow-up' head shot, instead only that part of the head is blown away giving the game a physicality not often achieved, especially with such fodder as Dead Rising 2. As you save town after town trying to uncover the truth, you bump into the characters from the original story making it a bit of a nostalgic trip as well. Similar to the original game, you have to help strangers along the way, find missing people and other small missions but essentially you're trying to find out what's behind all this.

As fun as it was to play, saving town after town by giving survivors ammunition (something that is scarce at first but builds up rather quickly) becomes a bit of a ball-ache. You have to go up to one survivor and then head to the others giving them ammo before finishing off the zombies. Trying to negotiate a way to get up to these survivors can be taxing to say the least, especially with zombies biting at your tails. However, once you've saved all the towns and done the main storyline (with a great 'few months later' epilogue) I'd imagine unless you're a completist you'd probably leave it there.

They also cleverly use the zombie factor as an excuse to include zombie animals as well as special 'Apocalypse' horses that if you catch, give you a certain special power. Though my Pestilence horse which was supposed to be impossible to kill, died almost as soon as I got it by falling off a cliff but yet I survived, so that was a bit of an anti-climax. However, there are Sasquatches, unicorns and more to find should you wish to do so. But as fun as it was, saving the towns occupied a lot of my time and soon became annoying. Also the final onslaught in a cave wasn't the big finale I expected it to be, instead it fell quite flat. It's also worth noting that you can still use your Red Eye slowing down time meaning you shouldn't really become too overwhelmed with zombies at any one time. The good thing is there is more than one type of undead, you have the normal ones, you have little fast spider like ones, spitting ones and big boulder-like ones. Therefore, it can keep the killing fresh by mixing it up with an assortment of the four. Weapons are also customised for zombie killing including a gun that shoots dead flesh back at them.

The game still sticks to it's open world sandbox roots, with certain Ranked missions, Treasure hunting and outfit collecting so there is something for everyone here. I couldn't justify spending enough time on it to complete it 100%, but doing the main storyline with bits afterward took about 8 hours, perhaps a bit more, and that's saving all the towns as well.

For a downloadable pack, this is great but I still felt they should have eased off saving all the towns constantly and concentrated more on doing missions. It's a nice, strange 'ending' as such with Red Dead Redemption and a great alternative to the Western feel of the original game. It's unique, brave and has successfully won over a lot of the audience, it's also due to come out on disc form in the near future as well. Rockstar have also announced that a Red Dead bundle will come out at the end of November with this and all the other DLC available in one big package. I recommend you buy this, especially if you loved Red Dead Redemption and it's a great DLC but again it's not perfect. Great idea, great gameplay, but felt like there could have been more to the story and saving all the towns became more of a chore as it went along. I'd love to see a DLC to this DLC (if that makes sense) which just opened it out a bit more, but for such content, depth and originality, it's one of the best DLC's out there. Go forth and enjoy - dead or undead.

DLC Rating: 9/10

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