Sunday, November 7, 2010
Review: Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare
Platform: PS3 (also on Xbox 360, PC)
Developer: Rockstar San Diego
Publisher: Rockstar Games
# of Players: 1 (online 2 - 4)
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
"Before we resume with a bang and boom...", let's just say that Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare is absolutely going to be the best ten bucks (or 800 Microsoft Points) you'll spend on any DLC this year. The zombie-packed expansion makes a great game even greater, packing in a decent amount of single-player content and some fun multiplayer action while transforming the familiar Old West setting into an undead filled wasteland that needs a bit of purification. If you've somehow managed to miss Red Dead Redemption, it's definitely a must-buy and this expansion makes it even more so.
John Marston is back as the lead, but things have gone to hell this time out thanks to the dead rising from their graves, his family infected and the need for a cure somewhat urgent. There's high drama, a bit of "B"-movie laughs and some seriously nasty zombies of the human and animal variety to tackle during the main game, but thanks to a few new weapons at your disposal, the game is a total blast to play. It's also funny as hell, thanks to some great writing, excellent voice work and snappy dialog that will have you falling off the couch laughing... right before you roll under it with the dog, as the game packs in the scares as well.
Visually, the game's formerly richly hued vistas and John Ford scope take on a gloomy, grayish tone straight out of a 70's horror flick. Yes, the obvious Night of the Living Dead references can be made here, but it's pretty clear that the team at Rockstar San Diego are fans of all sorts of classic (and not so classic) horror gems. It's impossible not to be floored by the unsettling cloudy landscapes, the freakish zombie bears and other undead coming at you through the haze and a few other things that will send a chill down your spine. then again, a good shotgun or blunderbuss blast takes those chills right away as you explode that pack of formerly nasty zombies that were trying to munch on your brains.
If you stick to the story and go exactly where you're supposed to, you can blaze through the game in about six to eight hours, depending on your skill level. On the other hand, you're free to go off the beaten path and explore (and it's too tempting NOT to) and uncover some interesting wildlife (did someone say Sasquatch) and a few bonuses. There are a number of NPC-related side quests as well and hell, the game is just so much fun with the scares coming at you so quickly that even when you're all done, you might want to fire it up once more and start from the beginning. As far as secrets go, the best ones to find in the game are the four horses of the Apocalypse, each adding different skills and their own special powers to Marston's side.
As you can probably guess, the overall story doesn't exactly fit your typical Old West plot line, but that's what makes everything click so well. Seeing and hearing how other characters in the game's era react to zombies we "modern" gamers are so jaded about is priceless and part of the game's brilliance. Some of the humor is so whacked out that I'd pay the ten bucks just to watch all the cut scenes strung together and padded out into some sort of extended trailer/short film.
Despite playing too many zombie-packed games, what's here never gets dull thanks to the setting and overall quality of the finished product. Hell, I'm not that jaded at all to sit here and complain that killing wave after wave of zombies or setting fire to coffins in yet another graveyard is dull stuff. For me, the game never wore out its welcome and I ended clocking a lot more than six hours playing through the main story. The multiplayer modes here borrow bits from Left 4 Dead and a few other games, but you won't mind, particularly if you hop online and play with like minded folks. I'm not a HUGE fan of running around shooting each other in the head types of action, but what's here works thanks to the while undead thing. hell, zombies make nearly any game genre better these days.
If you're somehow unable to buy this DLC thanks to not having access to broadband, a PSN or Xbox Live account, fear not - Rockstar loves you enough to have a super treat in a few weeks or so. They plan to release Undead Nightmare as a stand-alone disc that doesn't require the original game to play for around thirty bucks. That extra twenty gets you all the previous DLC, so it's a must-buy for the single player game as well as a good kick in the britches to get you keen on updating to that high-speed connection at some point. Anyway, I'll shut up now and just tell those millions of you out there who can get the game (and are of age, of course) to do so without hesitation. Undead Nightmare is definitely a top-notch chunk of DLC you'll go back to again and again.
Screen shot Gallery