Infecting the West one brain at a time.
If you've been living under a rock for the past few years, you wouldn't know, but zombies are a big thing right now. They're just about everywhere these days. Some folks might say that zombies are a lazy way to add to a game, but in Red Dead Redemption's case, Undead Nightmare is a very fun and silly, B-movie-inspired downloadable content pack that shouldn't be missed.
[image1]With a stroke of poetic liberty, Undead Nightmare picks up shortly after John Marston's return to his farm in Beecher's Hope, only to discover things aren't as expected. His relatives quickly become infected by an unknown plague. From there, he meets some familiar faces in nearby towns and decides to help the few people who are still alive by defending and reclaiming territory from the undead while trying to discover the true cause of the plague.
Focused on single-player content, Undead Nightmare's main campaign is the meatiest portion, at around eight hours of gameplay. The clock can rocket towards twelve hours if you decide to do everything else not involving the story, like saving missing survivors, taming legendary creatures, and even a handful of ambient challenges. Going for these challenges proves to be rewarding in the long run, unlocking new weapons and ammo, since stores don't exist in this campaign.
Some of these challenges are given to you by survivors, while others are presented the same way ambient challenges are in the main game. Some survivors present you with actual missions, like clearing a certain part of town from being overrun, while others, like some hunters in the snowy region of Tall Trees, have you killing a specific type of creature. This type of mission can be done throughout the entire game as a goal, similar to how gathering quests works in Red Dead Redemption. Missions overall are varied, even if they're few and far between, put are spread throughout the game as you clear sections from the undead threat.
[image2]Clearing sections is important not only to open up more missions, but also to provide you with safehouses and supplies as well. The more time you spend away from an area, the quicker it becomes overrun and has to be rescued again. If you leave a section undefended, survivors die; and once they all die, that town becomes zombieland fast. It works in a similar way to what was done with gang wars in GTA: San Andreas, but not as stressful. If you play smart, a town will rarely become overrun.
Rockstar was candid in divulging information about Undead Nightmare, so it's no surprise there are some weird stuff going on in this DLC besides the zombie plague. The outbreak has apparently broken the seal of the apocalypse and the four hellish horses are out there in the world. Get yourself one as soon as you can, since their special powers are cool. For instance, War's horse sets enemies on fire, which is not zombie-friendly. Of course, the other survivors don't seem to mind that you're riding a horse on flames… I guess the Apocalypse makes people open-minded.
In terms of weapons, there's a host of new things to tinker with against the undead horde, like holy water, bait, and my personal favorite, the blunderbuss, which uses zombie body parts as ammo. The zombies don't let you have it easy, though, and the four distinct types of ghouls have their own attack pattern and behavior. Not surprisingly, Undead Nightmare takes a cue from Left4Dead 2: a spitter zombie, a charger/tank combination, and even a hunter-like crawler.
[image3]Instead of just dumbing down enemy artificial intelligence, as you might expect of zombies, Rockstar has made things much more dangerous in Undead Nightmare. The only sure way of killing a ghoul is to shoot it in the head, compared to the original title where a regular to the body could disable an enemy. Also, since zombies are freakin' undead, they don't really worry about their well-being and just charge straight at you. Cover-based gunfights are not a good idea thanks to that, making the need to be agile much more important in this DLC.
Multiplayer gets two new modes: Undead Overrun and Land Crab. Undead Overrun is pretty much Horde mode from Gears of War 2 – a fight against waves of undead and the clock. Land Grab has you conquering territories and defending your own. Overrun quickly becomes repetitive and is mostly something you'll play once or twice. There are also a handful of new multiplayer character models to choose from, obviously keeping with the undead theme.
As a fan of zombie movies, Undead Nightmare is a blast for me. While I was hoping to get more of the actual Red Dead Redemption story, there is plenty to like in Undead Nightmare. It doesn't take itself too seriously at any point, and nobody is truly spared during the story; you never know who'll turn next. Forget about what you've done during the main game's single player campaign, turn off your suspension of disbelief, and nail those suckers in the head. Undead Nightmare is one of the best pieces of downloadable content this year, and considering what we got so far in terms of DLC for other games, that's saying a lot.