Friday, 3 December 2010

Game Review - Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare

Format: PS3, Xbox 360

Red Dead Redemption was a terrific example of sandbox style adventure with captivating story, characters, gameplay and visuals; it really was an excellent game. This still holds true now with the excellent addition of Undead Nightmare. Obviously this package is not as extensive as the main game, but for the price tag, this is a bargain. You enter the world of Red Dead once again as John Marston to take on hordes of the undead. It is a real treat to watch how this horror unfolds in more historical times as opposed to our modern day movies and games such as the Dead Rising series. Undead Nightmare provides a great story to follow and hits the nostalgia factor perfectly as you traverse the now torn down and desolate towns that were once brimming with life. A few things get in the way of Undead Nightmare such as fairly easy enemy AI, but for what it’s worth, this is one fight against the dead you do not want to miss.

The goal in Undead Nightmare is very simple, completely remove the zombie threat from each town and rescue the survivors. The game offers you plenty of freedom by letting you choose what towns and villages you want to help first, but this is largely due to the process being pretty much the same in every town. That’s not to say that it isn’t plenty of fun going in and killing the hordes of zombies while helping survivors by offering them ammunition to defend themselves and so forth, but it just seems that without weapons, enemies in Red Dead Redemption don’t really put up much of a challenge. It is certainly a welcome addition to see some variation in the zombie types to keep things interesting, including your heavier and stronger zombies; your projectile vomit zombies and you’re fast moving zombies. Once again however, becoming accustomed to their attack patterns slowly makes the combat quite easy. Undead Nightmare does make it quite difficult to acquire ammo, especially in the early parts of the game, this means that some of your encounters with zombies will be finished with melee weapons, upping the challenge somewhat. It is a shame however, that at times you can find yourself cheating the system by climbing on top of a building and fairly easily picking off zombies one by one until the area is secure. I strongly suggest avoiding such tactics and keep yourself challenged by doing it the old fashioned way, gun slinging.

Upon rescuing a town from the undead nemesis, you will then be allowed to rest up and use the town’s resources once again. Without initially removing the zombie threat, none of these resources are available to you, including saving the game. So it pays off to pick a systemic route across the map as you slowly save more and more towns from the undead nightmare and uncover a safe zone like path in between your objectives.

Looking around the dying Wild West, it is easy to really appreciate the effort that went into making this game fit the undead theme. Red Dead was a beautiful game in its own right, but with the addition of a spooky soundtrack and a foreboding darkness that engulfs the land, you will find yourself a lot more vigilant when you traverse the deserts, especially when you begin encountering mythological creatures such as Big Foot and Unicorns as opposed to wolves and cougars.

Let’s face it, this wouldn’t be a Red Dead game without the return of some of the great and memorable faces of the initial campaign, along with entertaining side-missions and quests for you to take part in. This certainly helps to keep gameplay varied in Undead Nightmare and forces you to go hunting for lost family members, treasures and perhaps the most sought after prizes for yourself, the four horses of the Apocalypse. This is definitely the coolest addition to Undead Nightmare, allowing you to capture the four legendary horses Death, Famine, War and Pestilence. Each horse has its own quest that needs to be accomplished and each horse also has its own unique ability, for example War sets enemies on fire when they get into close proximity of the legendary beast.

These additions to saving all the towns and villages can very easily produces extra house of gameplay for those looking to complete everything. It really depends on how much you yourself choose to partake, as most of these side-quests are optional. It is highly recommended that the original Red Dead campaign be completed before tackling the Undead Nightmare as some faces return and story lines intertwine meaning you could potentially miss out on some important information or hit a spoiler by accident.

Adding to the great single player gameplay, Undead Nightmare also brings to the table a brand new multiplayer game type called Undead Overrun. This mode allows up to four players to take on waves of zombies in a horde mode style experience. As you progress and survive longer, the enemies become tougher, increase in numbers and hit you faster, posing a thrilling and engaging experience for you and your friends. This is perhaps one of the more entertaining multiplayer games out there, forcing teamwork and cooperation as you aim to keep the clock and yourself alive and running, while the zombies dead and buried.

There is little that can be said to fault Undead Nightmare; especially considering it is only an add-on pack. Saying that, for downloadable content, it offers so much game-play and variety that it really is hard to not absolutely love every moment as you immerse yourself once again the world of Red Dead and John Marston. While not as challenging as the original, Undead Nightmare takes an entirely different angle and hits the nail on the head, this is an add-on pack worth every moment of your time. Stand Alone disc version was released at the end of Nov 2010.

Technical presentation – 9.5

Graphics – 9.0

Game-play – 7.0

Replay value – 6.5

Final score – 8.0 / 10

Igor, CeX UK Contributor
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