Forget what you’ve learned in the campaign of Red Dead Redemption because Undead Nightmare changes the gameplay with a whole new experience. With the zombie apocalypse twist, Rockstar Games have introduced a new dynamic with the Undead Nightmare pack.
The story starts with John Marston spending a stormy evening with his wife and son. After turning in for the night, a series of unfortunate events occur leaving Marston’s wife and son turned into zombies. Realizing he may be the only equipped cowboy to find out what’s going on, Marston locks his hogtied loved ones in his house and sets out to discover a cure to the plague that is spreading throughout New Austin.
As you make your way through the plagued land, you come across an array of zombies – human and animal. Every animal is zombified in forms of brain hungry wolves, intimidating bears and cougars, swooping bats and charging boars.
The human zombies come in four breeds, including the classic walker. In addition to the classic, the Bruiser is a big powerhouse zombie that barrels you over, the Bolter is a speedy crawling zombie that leaps to attack, and Retchers shoot toxic vomit.
There are also a handful of mythical creatures in the Undead Nightmare pack. Most notably are the Four Horses of the Apocalypse that you can coax to become your trusty steed. The War horse is a flaming steed that catches nearby zombies on fire, Death horse causes passing zombie’s heads to explode, and both Pestilence and Famine have unlimited stamina and are impervious to the zombies.
There is also a mission set that brings you on encounters of the ellusive Sasquatch. Although the side story was entertaining, it felt out of place and forced within the Undead Nightmare experience and would have made a better fit within the original campaign.
Missions and real-time events carryout the story as Marston scours for the cause of the breakout. The storyline reconnects you with familiar faces (alive and dead) as you clear out graveyards, regain control of towns and give a helping hand to survivors as you search for information about the outbreak.
Real-time events come in the forms of saving an innocent from a zombie attack, fetching a live zombie for a doctor to study or escorting a civilian to town for safety. There are also Stranger missions that aren’t part of the main storyline, though they compliment the chaos around the events.
How you play the game changes since some of the mechanics from the original campaign are rendered useless against zombie hordes. No longer will you have a use for taking cover behind a rock or other shield since you won’t be having a shootout with the undead. Also, accuracy is important since you must shoot the zombies in the head to re-kill them. Dead Eye aim proves very useful, especially when a large group are at close quarters, or you need to clear out a bunch quickly. Since it is scarce, rationing your ammunition by shooting only when you need to and shooting to kill is key.
When ammo runs out, your only option is the torch, which is only useful at close range. Other new weapons include Holy Water to vaporize the hordes, Boom Bait which attracts a group of zombies then explodes, Zombie Bait attracts zombies to one location allowing you to toss a stick of dynamite to clear them out, and the Blunderbuss which explodes zombies using zombie parts as ammunition.
Survival puts a whole new outlook in Red Dead Redemption since the big factors of a zombie apocalypse ring true in the DLC pack. Finding ways to keep barriers between yourself and the zombies is a best practice. Whether it’s being on the other side of a fence, taking high ground on a rooftop or other object, or even staying on your horse will prolong your survival. Stealthy approaches and keeping to the outskirts of towns are safe bets as the run-and-gun approach may prove fatal.
Undead Nightmare is a great addition to one of the top titles released this year. Blending a western setting with a serious zombie apocalypse story, that has enough whimsy to keep it more thrilling than scary, creates a better combination than expected. With the invitation to revisit New Austin while creating an entirely different experience is a huge success.
With five more hours of gameplay, in addition to a few multiplayer additions such as playable characters and a co-op horde mode called Undead Overrun, this is a robust DLC. In comparison to the previous Red Dead Redemption packs, the length and quality of Undead Nightmare makes it a steal at $10.
Undead Nightmare is available now via Xbox Live and PSN for $10 or 800 MS points. It will be available on November 23rd as a retail release bundled with the rest of the Red Dead Redemption DLC’s for $29.99.