Previews// Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare

Posted 14 Oct 2010 17:11 by
Games: Red Dead Redemption
Halloween never gets a break in the UK, does it? The second Summer is officially over, shops and supermarkets pepper their aisles with all kinds of cheesy Christmas decorations. It's unsightly ? it's TOO SOON! Luckily the video games industry more than makes up for this, by taking advantage of any opportunity to add zombies to everything. Sometimes developers even make up their own opportunities ? just look at Call of Duty: World at War.

Rockstar, never a studio to avoid a parody, has thrown its hat into the ring by introducing zombies to Red Dead Redemption ? and just in time for the Pagan festival, as well. While the developer has been more than kind with providing extra downloadable content already, Undead Nightmare is the first add-on pack that brings a whole new single-player campaign. Think of it as a Western version of the Grand Theft Auto IV expansion episodes. With flesh-eating monsters.

The new story takes place in-between the ?home? period of Red Dead Redemption's main plot, and the end of the game itself. That's the time elapsed when John Marston rebuilds his ranch, which Rockstar imagines is a period that lasted several months. You won't need to enter the main story mode to access Undead Nightmare though ? it's a self-contained portion of gameplay that sits as its own little option on the title screen.

As Marston, your objective is to find a way to stop a deadly virus outbreak that is turning the West from Wild to Feral, while uncovering the mystery as to how it all started in the first place. A cutscene with dirty grave robber Seth reveals details on a glass eye that was discovered. Marston believes that Seth's curious find has somehow caused the world to zombify, but the old coot isn't listening ? he's busy playing Poker with his undead best friend, Moses.

What he does tell you though, is that there are several graveyards dotted around the world map that appear to be the source of the zombie invasion. If you want to progress through the Undead Nightmare episode with as little hassle as possible, you're going to need to seek out these graveyards and use the torch ? a new weapon ? to burn the cursed coffins that reside within them. This will give you some time to explore the land at your leisure while keeping the overall zombie population low.

But these guys won't go down without a fight, for when you start to destroy the first casket the dead will come rising up from the ground with an intent to feast on your flesh. You clearly don't want that ? it's not something Oil of Olay is going to clear up, really. So with torch in hand, you have to deal out the punishment. As you'd expect, this weapon is but fire on a stick ? which makes for nothing more than an effective melee attack, but it does have the added bonus of setting the rotting enemies aflame.

Naturally, the zombies aren't going to be easy to kill. I mean, they're already dead. But if you wind back the clock to the time you saw [insert zombie film here], you'll remember that these foes have one great weakness. A clean shot to the head will usually eliminate those baying for your blood, but because they bob about more than a Shakey Jake you'll need to get real accurate ? Dead Eye mode comes in very handy when you're surrounded as well.

Luckily, the torch isn't the only weapon you'll be able to use against the undead hordes. John has a brand new Blunderbuss added to his arsenal, and it works similarly to an extremely powerful shotgun that can spray shrapnel in a large radius. It also aids in making zombies explode, which is always a fun sight to see. The unique thing about this Blunderbuss is that its uses broken ribs and teeth harvested from zombies as ammunition. Reloading takes some time as John literally needs to smush all the necessary bits down the gun.

You also have some items that you can throw on the ground and use as a long-range tactical weapon. These come in the form of Zombie Bait, Boom Bait and Holy Water. The first can be chucked on the floor to distract the oncoming horde and give you some time to collect yourself, while the second has the same use with an added bonus of exploding after a few seconds. Meaty. Holy Water is thrown at zombies to set them on fire. It's almost spiritual seeing them flail around as blue flames engulf them.

A combination of all of these weapons is necessary ? alongside any standard and special weapons from other DLC packages you might already own ? to tackle the range of enemies that can try to take you down. The bog standard Undead shuffle about in classic George A. Romero fashion, but Marston also has to contend with Bolters (small and quick ankle-biters that grapple you), Bruisers (huge dudes that can charge at you and club you to death) and Retchers (radioactive, glowing gits that spew acidic vomit everywhere). You'll also have to contend with the undead wildlife too.

There is more to the Undead Nightmare campaign than story-following and grave-desecrating however ? you can pass through towns that are inundated with invading zombies, and if you cleanse the area of these undead pests you earn a safehouse as well as some bonus goodies. If you don't want to do the dirty work, you can either find the nearby survivors and provide some supplies for them, or you can just ignore them like the heartless git you are.

Zombie horses, optional quests such as finding missing persons and the use of mythical creatures such as the legendary Four Horses of the Apocalypse all round up this distinctly spooky package ? and from what I played, it's looking like a hell of a riot. You'll be able to grab Undead Nightmare from Xbox Live Arcade or PlayStation Network later this month for 800 Microsoft Points, or 7.99.
Games: Red Dead Redemption

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