Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare

Some may say that zombies are overrated or unoriginal, and it may be true when it comes to downloadable content and add-ons for games. If you’re out of ideas, just slap together a “zombie mode” and you’re good to go. The Undead Nightmare DLC for Rockstar Games’ open-world epic Red Dead Redemption may come off as another lazy zombie mode at first, but it is actually much more than just that. For starters, it is the first Red Dead Redemption DLC to feature a proper single-player campaign with a self-contained story of its own. There are also new multiplayer modes in addition to new challenges, unlockable outfits, and a few new weapons.

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I’ve always found certain elements in Red Dead Redemption to be a bit creepy, whether it’s the random lunatics you run into in the wilderness or the fantastically spooky atmosphere around Blackwater and Tall Trees at night. The game was just begging for something supernatural, and this DLC gives you just that. The events in Undead Nightmare play out like a “what if” version of Red Dead Redemption’s story. You’ll once again play as leading man John Marston, who is living a seemingly peaceful life with his wife and son at their family ranch at Beecher’s Hope. After a brief opening scene, things go horribly wrong as a strange plague seems to be spreading across the lands, turning people into flesh-eating maniacs and causing the dead to rise from graves.

Unfortunately, Marston’s family is now among the ones infected, and it’s up to him to uncover the origin of the disease and search for a means to cure his wife and son while fending off hundreds of the undead denizens of the old West. Along the way, you’ll meet many familiar characters from the original game. The dialog and voice acting is just as entertaining as it was in Red Dead Redemption with the humour quotient amped up significantly. It’s fun to hear each character’s take on the bizarre situation they’ve found themselves in. Clearly a lot of effort has gone into the writing and presentation, and once again, Rockstar doesn’t disappoint in this aspect.

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Undead Nightmare plays very much like the original game. The map is open for you to explore and you’ll pick up new story missions from key characters. There are also a few side missions scattered across the map along with random events similar to the main game. The missions don’t stray too far from familiar territory and usually involve fetch quests, rescue missions and killing a lot of undead. The combat is where the game differs slightly from the original. Unlike Red Dead Redemption, you won’t be dealing with gun-toting outlaws here, but that also makes things rather easy. The undead don’t wield guns and will usually simply rush at you in large numbers. They can only be killed with headshots and usually a close-range execution move will finish them off quickly and effectively.

Taking a page from Valve’s book, Rockstar’s undead come in four varieties. In addition to normal zombies, you’ll face large ones who can charge and knock you down, skinny fast ones who love scurrying around on all fours, and finally glowing green ones who can spit corrosive goo at you. However, the strategy for killing each type of undead remains the same. In the beginning, the game tells you that ammunition is a precious commodity, leading you to believe that Rockstar is trying to give the combat a “survival horror” twist, but soon you’ll practically be swimming in ammo, eliminating whatever little challenge the combat has to offer. New weapons get unlocked regularly and you’ll usually have more than enough options to take out the hordes upon hordes of undead the game throws at you.

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Speaking of which, yes, most of your time in Undead Nightmare will be spent killing masses of the undead. In addition to regular missions, you’ll be tasked with saving the many towns and settlements spread across the map. Most of these are optional, but doing so rewards you with additional ammo and also a fast travel point, which is handy as there is no campsite travel this time. Saving towns is always the same task – kill a fixed number of undead until they stop coming. In addition to that, saved towns may also come under attack while you’re away and you may have to repeat the task. This kind of repetition is a minor annoyance if you aren’t going for 100% completion, but if you are, it’s something you’ll have to deal with. Much like the main game, random bugs and glitches are quite prevalent. During my playthrough, I came across at least two instances where an NPC wouldn’t talk to me when they were supposed to.

Along with the single player campaign, Undead Nightmare also features four new ambient challenges for you to test your Red Dead Redemption skills. Much like the original game, they get tougher as you progress through the ranks. There are also unique mythical mounts, which can be found and tamed in the wild, and new outfits to be unlocked. So all in all, there’s a lot to keep completionists busy for a while. Even if you stick to only the main story missions, the DLC will give you a solid six hours of play, while 100% completion can take up to 10 hours or more, which is pretty impressive for DLC. If that’s not all, you can head online and try out the new Undead Overrun mode, where you and your buddies can team up to take on waves after waves of the undead while trying to stay alive for as long as possible. The DLC also contains a new free-roam game type called Land Grab, which actually doesn’t feature any undead, but can only be started by a player who has the DLC installed. Land Grab is about securing and holding areas of land scattered across the map. Both game modes give players XP to level up their online Red Dead Redemption character.

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Despite the repetition, easy combat and some minor issues, Undead Nightmare is a blast to play through. The single-player campaign is consistently entertaining and there’s more than enough content here than your average run-of-the-mill DLC. If you have been itching for more old West adventuring after finishing Red Dead Redemption, think no further. Getting this DLC is a no-brainer; pun intended.

IVG's Verdict

  • Entertaining campaign
  • Great voice acting and dialog
  • Exploring the open world is still fun
  • Wealth of content
  • Combat lacks challenge
  • Saving towns gets repetitive
  • Random bugs and glitches
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