Since the release of Red Dead Redemption it has constantly been pretty near the top of my list of favourite games. It has an epic story from a single player point of view, with not only the main story but numerous side quests and challenges to complete. If and when you get done with the single player side of things, the online game play was just as jam packed full of game modes and challenges, if not more so than the single player game. Developers Rockstar have also continued since the release of the game to add even more content to primarily the online game modes, both the competitive matches and the genius that is Free Roam. The latest expansion pack that has been released however is a little different from the previously released packs in that it deals mostly with the expansion of the single player mode. That is not to say however that there isn’t a little something for the multiplayer fans. It is the fact that this pack offers the game a whole new single player story to play through that I thought it deserved it’s own review.
The Undead Nightmare was released quite fittingly on the week of Halloween, since the story involves hordes of the undead. Rockstar have told us that the story of Undead Nightmare does not fit in with the main story and should be viewed as it’s own horrific standalone tale. Think of it as an alternate universe to that which the main game played out in. As the story begins, it has John Marston returning home to his family after a hard days work, herding cows, roping steeds and of course shooting cattle rustlers. But within an hour or so all hell has broken loose with his uncle returning home, leading to a struggle and resulting in Johns wife being bitten, his uncle being shot and his wife then attacking his son. This ends with a dead uncle and John roping and hogtying his wife and son, who are both acting more than a little strange by now, and locking them up in his bedroom. John then heads into the town of Blackwater to find help for his wife and son. Upon arriving there however it seems that it is not just at home where people are acting strange. It soon becomes clear that the long time and recently dead are rising from the grave and are intent on feeding upon the living. And so begins a long and gory tale of John travelling the country and across the border in search of answers, all the while battling zombies who all view him as a happy meal on legs.
The gameplay is on the whole identical to that of the main story line with only a few small changes, such as the ammunition shortage. With zombies attacking locations all over the map, weapon stores are empty and the majority of the ammo in the game is either looted from the dead or found within chests. What makes the ammunition shortage even more desperate is the fact that to kill the undead you either need to get in close with a flaming torch or find another means to burn them, or more effectively score a head shot which puts the pesky undead down for good. Body shots and limb shots succeed in slowing or knocking them down, but it’s not long before they are up and coming at you once again.
Not only does the new single player mode have its main story line, it also, much like the original story, offers up a whole bunch of other new content, ensuring the player has plenty to do. There are new side quests and stranger missions along with new challenges to achieve. In fact, most of the features from the original story mode make a return in some form or other, only with the zombie twist. For example the twist on an old feature is that the wanted posters from the original story have been changed into missing posters, which have you riding to a specified location where a survivor is fighting against a group of zombies which you must lay waste to and rescue the missing person, returning them to safety. Another addition comes in the shape of a handful of new mounts which are based on the four horses of the Apocalypse, each of which has their own special ability and a rather interesting look to them.
One new feature added to the game however could be best described as a turf war. At the beginning of the story most of the towns and some of the key locations within the game are under attack from the undead masses, requiring the player upon entering these towns, to clear out a certain number of the zombies before that location is designated “safe”, for the time being anyhow. Safe towns offer up rewards to the player in the shape of weapons, ammo and a place to save your progress. The towns you have saved however do not remain that way and over time the zombies will once again descend upon them, requiring the player to return and save it once again.Â Of course, like the previous download packs, there is some new hardware for John to get his hands on, and this time it comes in the shape of an old time blunderbuss, which quite amusingly uses undead body parts as ammunition. This means you find yourself quite amusingly looting ribs, ears and tongues among other bodyparts from the corpses. The gun fires one shot then needs reloading and that process is lengthy, but the firepower which the gun packs more than makes up for it, as a single well aimed shot can take out two or three zombies at once.
The zombies themselves come in a variety of forms, most of which initially act like zombies from the old style horror films, stumbling around barely coherent so much so that you feel you can walk up to and past them without worrying about any ill harm befalling you. The problem is that the zombies within the game do act like that from a distance, but as soon as they become aware of your presence they become more like the modern day zombie and run towards you intent on having a good old munch on your soft fleshy parts. The zombies also come in a variety of shapes and forms from the basic kind who just come at you with one thing on their minds, huge zombies who charge at you, knocking you on your butt, skinny zombies who on spotting you drop to all fours and scrabble at you at sprinting speeds or the wretchers who, as their name suggests, vomit green bile at you from a distance. It is not just humans who have been infected and are on the hunt for flesh, but also the games diverse selection of wildlife which have returned from the grave, making some animals which were lethal in the games original story line doubly so. Thankfully each and every one of them, former human or animal, can be put down just as quickly with a bullet to the cranial cavity. The only thing more fun than doing so is using the games dead eye feature to score eight or nine head shots within a matter of seconds.
Not only do you get this huge chunk of single player fun, which is sure to keep you more than occupied for many an hour, especially if you plan on doing everything there is to do within the story. But the game also adds some of that zombie fun to the multiplayer side of things with two new game modes along with six new zombified player skins, all of which are named in a way that will give horror movie fans a bit of a laugh. The first new multiplayer game mode is named Land Grab which involves players and their respective posses capturing and holding certain key points located around the free roam map, with other players and other posses being able to capture and hold others while attempting to take locations which are already held. I have only played this mode a couple of times and the reason for this is that the second new multiplayer game on offer is so much more fun. Titled Overrun, it has the player and up to three other players fighting off wave after wave of zombies of all kinds. Thankfully zombies in this mode do not need to be shot in the head to stop them, as the sheer number of attackers in later waves gets just a little crazy, and there is nothing quite as much fun as throwing a bottle of zombie bait into the foray and following it up with a stick of TNT and watching the bodies fly. Talking about the number of zombies on the screen, the game handles it petty well with very little if any slowdown, even when you have thirty to forty zombies on screen at any one time, whether you are playing the single player story or fighting off the hordes in Overrun.
The combination of cowboys and zombies really is a work of genius from the developers at Rockstar. Anyone who is a fan of Red Dead Redemption, and lets be honest that is quite a few people, who have done all there is to do in the single player mode, picking up this pack is something you should definitely be doing, adding a fairly sizeable chunk of content to a game that is already chock full of things to do. The developers have managed to give the story to this expansion pack a B-Movie horror feel, especially the opening credits and scenes. If you are looking for an excuse to come back and play a little more Red Dead Redemption or you are the kind of person who enjoys a little spot of Zombie hunting and you own Red Dead, then this could be exactly what you are looking for. Let’s hope that Rockstar have more great content like this lined up for the game as each pack, this one especially, just makes a great game better and better.