The review of this DLC contains spoilers regarding the primary single player campaign of Red Dead Redemption.
For many the Red Dead Redemption story line has been completed and left players craving more. The DLC packs leading up to the Undead Nightmare pack have consisted mainly of new multiplayer components. Now all of us Red Dead fans can immerse ourselves in the beautiful western frontier once again. If that isn’t enough to catch your attention, then maybe the fact that John Marston has resumed his spot as the lead role will excite you. Rockstar has unleashed the undead into the wild west and it is up to John Marston to venture out for a cure in order to save his family and the old friends that cross his path once again.
Expanding on a Winning Formula
Red Dead Redemption received praise from numerous reviewers (including myself) upon release. The game’s mechanics, story, characters and just about anything else you can list that was present on the disc was commended for their quality. The Undead Nightmare pack takes that wonderful locales of Red Dead and makes each area feel fresh with the inclusion of new color schemes and filters and, of course, lots of zombies feasting on the remaining survivors. Blackwater is the first primary town that players will encounter. It is no longer busy with the constant flow of pedestrians, dogs and travelers passing through on horses. Instead, the streets remain barren and walls are littered with graffiti stating the ideals of the survivors that once inhabited the area. These scribbles vary from “hell walks the earth” to “close the borders”. This is complimented by boarded up buildings and random objects strewn about. Remaining survivors have even made makeshift cover points or taken the high ground whenever available. It is surprising how these changes can make the it feel as if John has entered an entirely different world.
The combat in Red Dead remains the same and it is necessary that players have a firm grasp of the controls since it will come down to their reflexes and precision in order to survive the relentless hordes of various undead. Although the combat controls haven’t changed their use has. Zombies, as you might have guessed, are the primary enemy that will be trying to stop John. The undead use team tactics to overwhelm Marston and attack him from all fronts utilizing different abilities. There are four types of zombies: normal, bolters, bruisers, and retchers. The normal zombie is what you’ve come to expect from horror games nowadays. They are slow and once ready to attack they pick up the pace a bit. Bolters are lankier versions of the normal zombie and can drop down to all fours in order to sprint (sideways) at you at high speeds. Bruisers are heavy set zombies that will rush John in order to slam into him and throw him to the ground. Retchers are the ranged zombie of the four and spit acid. Upon dying their bodies glow and detonate shortly after. Although they may seem like a handful as is all of the wildlife (cougars, wolves, and bears oh my!) have converted to death’s side along with a few mythical creatures.
The world’s appearance isn’t the only thing that has changed. In order to accommodate the new setting the side missions and random encounters have altered as well. Random encounters can consist of a lone survivor fending off oncoming undead with his gattling gun-fortified campsite. Other times one might see a man weeping next to his recently deceased wife only to have her reanimate and eat him. The stranger missions primarily revolve around reconnecting with old friends and seeing how the apocalypse has affected them. I won’t spoil any of the returning characters, but it is quite entertaining to see some slaying zombies viciously while others cross John’s path in their undead form.
Speaking of characters, every character is just as entertaining as before whether old or new. They all have distinct personalities and mannerisms. The tougher characters you remember from the story are most likely still alive and kicking undead ass. Some of the dumber or less impactful characters have become an entree and will be satisfying to put down. Of course you will have to progress through the story’s primary and secondary missions in order to rekindle John’s friendships for a bit. That shouldn’t be a problem since the story remains intriguing by making the search for the truth and cure for the Marston family full of colorful characters, memorable events and an ever twisting plot.
The game opens with John Marston returning home to his wife Abigail and his son Jack after the government finally allowed them to reunite. Upon arriving home John comments on the strange behavior of the animals and quickly brushes the thought aside. The family realized that Unlce hasn’t made it home and they decide to deal with that the following day. Not too long after going to be all hell breaks loose and Abigail and Jack are bitten. John has to think quickly and decides they are best tied up and locked in his bedroom until he finds a cure. From here he heads out into the a land changed by a different type of death than he’s used to in order to save his family and, in the process, the people of America and Mexico.
The Undead Nightmare pack clocks in at about 6 hours. That was just the primary missions, stranger missions, and a few town rescues along the way. If players took the time to save each town, complete the new challenges, and achieve that 100% completion then you are looking at well over 6 hours. At a price of $10 this is phenomenal. There are plenty of games on the market that sell at the $60 price point and barely reach that time limit upon completion. For $10 you get to once again embody John Marston and take on a western frontier that you have never seen before coupled with new missions, weapons, enemies, animals, mounts, etc. The content isn’t restricted to single player however.
More Multiplayer Mayhem
Multiplayer was not forgotten in this DLC pack. The online portion had 2 new game modes and 8 new characters added to the existing options. The first game made is Undead Overrun. In this mode up to 4 players must fend off against increasing waves of zombies and survive for as long as possible. In Land Grab the players must maintain control of certain towns as long as possible. It plays out like a larger scale king of the hill. The 8 new characters for online are zombies (duh!) 6 of which are reincarnations of movie directors and 2 are zombified Red Dead characters.
To be honest this is the only issue that I believe detracted from this downloadable content. There were several times where a cutscene would initiate and certain characters would remain blocky, as if made of large legos, for 3 to 5 seconds. It was funny at first to see rectangular corpses lying around mid discussion, but after a while it becomes an unfortunate blemish on an otherwise beautiful package.
Red Dead Redemption’s Undead Nightmare pack has shown gamers that not all developers are out to rip you off. For $10 players will gain an entirely new experience which will be sure to make them realize how other games in their collection never had nearly as much content to back up a price 6 times this amount. The reimagined setting provides fresh locations to explore once again. Revisiting old characters is also quite an experience. The new enemies (undead people and animals) definitely changes the pace and structure of things which keeps the game from entering Deja Vu territory. I’m sure everyone will find hours of fun in saving towns, finding mythical mounts, hunting the undead and so on. The only issue present here is the occasional rendering issue, but it is hard to judge it so harshly off of one problem when everything else shines and delivers. For those looking to join John Marston on another epic journey don’t waste another minute and download this immediately.
[ Editor’s Note: Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare was reviewed on the PlayStation 3 hardware. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare Pack Review,