The good, the bad, and the just plain awful.
Everyone agrees that Red Dead Redemption is a damn good game. Heck, I even got 100% completion Achievement! But despite the mostly awesome missions, developed characters, and a breathtaking landscape, my favorite activity in the game is gambling. Poker and liar's dice are by far my main distractions during Mr. Marston's quest for redemption, so when I heard there would be a DLC pack for the game which would add gambling to multiplayer, I couldn't pass up the chance to play and review it.
Sadly in this DLC, with the good, there comes the bad, and with the bad, comes the just plain awful. While I love gambling to death, a few missions in the story require you to race horses. Riding in the open expanses of the West is fine, but tight turning and precise controls don't go together in Red Dead Redemption, which in turn make these missions a pain in the neck. In Liars and Cheats, not only do you get an online horse racing mode, but a death race at that. With guns. But who likes to be shot out of nowhere, with no chance to return fire, while struggling with keeping your horse on the right path?
Things aren't all bad, though. There's plenty to do besides horse racing in Liars and Cheats. Along with poker and liar's dice, each of which has their own playlist, there are new selectable characters for multiplayer based on the principal cast from the main story, like Dutch and Abigail Marston. There are also an extra gang shootout mode called Stronghold and a handful of free roam challenge locations.
As for new guns, the explosive rifle stays true to its name: It's just plain dangerous. A single shot bursts on contact and even though there's very little splash damage, a direct hit is fatal to just about anything in the environment. It includes its own set of single player challenges, and just like the ambient challenges included with the main game, there are ten tiers full of crazy objectives. Ammo for it is incredibly rare to come by, and the gun itself is pricey to begin with at 5000 in-game dollars.
You can also use this rifle in multiplayer. It's the reward for completing the new set of gang hideouts in free roam, and like in single player, bullets are in extremely short supply. The gang hideouts themselves offer plenty of challenge in an already varied sandbox mode, even if in most cases, you're only defending a spot from waves of enemies.
Stronghold works like a capture-the-territory mode in most modern shooters, in which two teams (or gangs in this case) fight for control of specific flag locations. The catch is that some of these locations have their own defense measures that can then be used to counter opposing attackers. It's a chaotic game mode which fits in extremely well in Red Dead Redemption's multiplayer crowded playlist.
For the most part, the strongest portion of Liars and Cheats would be the gambling. There's a daily allowance of 200 in-game dollars which can then be used to buy-in a spot in each of the game tables. The buy-in price of the games is low, and if you're good, you'll win tons of money - this guarantees a long play time for poker sharks despite the poor allowance you start out with.
Even though multiplayer betting has its downsides, mainly opponents just quitting out mid-game or after getting busted out, once you do get a good group playing, games can take a long while to beat. Each of the gambling modes has its own group of tests which award you bonus XP, so even though you spend quite a lot of time with your gun holster touching the bottom of a seat, you won't be missing out on leveling your cowboy/cowgirl character.Liars and Cheats isn't the perfect downloadable content pack for Red Dead Redemption, but it's a darn good one for the most part. Some of the additions might turn some players away, but playing cards or throwing dice online more than makes up for these faults. The horseshoes game from the single player, though, would've made for a good one-on-one multiplayer mode. Knowing what Rockstar has planned for RDR DLC, this is probably the last multiplayer-focused pack you'll see for the game. And if you think an explosive rifle is farfetched for the Old West, wait 'til you see a zombie shambling around in the next and probably final downloadable content pack Undead Nightmare.