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Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare Review

by: Charlie Cook ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

Sometimes life on the range just gets dull. Hours of herding cattle and shooting bandits certainly have their merits, but sometimes a cowpoke just needs a little spice. Fortunately zombies tend to do a fantastic job of adding a little zest to just about anything.

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    Zombie Slayin' with a Six Shooter

    UD1 Just when you think you're ready to lay down your rifle and ride off into the sunset for good, Rockstar releases Undead Nightmare. This final set of downloadable content for Red Dead Redemption takes a turn for the ghoulish and as it turns out Rockstar has once again proven they know how to resurrect their games.

    It seems like plenty of games these days are throwing in a few zombies and calling it a day, but Rockstar knows that it takes a little more than a few rotting corpses walking around to impress fans. If you've been holding out on buying any Red Dead Redemption downloadable content Undead Nightmare might just be what you've been waiting for. Rockstar has gone all out this time and provided not only an expertly crafted singleplayer campaign, but a few new modes and goodies for multiplayer fans to sink their teeth into. So grab a bottle of moonshine, pick out your best zombie stomping spurs and take a big bite out of our review.

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    Presentation

    UD2 I've got to hand it to Rockstar, they know how to make their products shine and it's obvious that they took their time adding all the subtle touches that Rockstar is known for. Everything from the B-movie style announcer in the multiplayer modes to the classic horror movie inspired menus and maps are extremely polished.

    This attention to detail carries over to the surprisingly deep singleplayer campaign. All your favorite challenges from the main game are back and all new and have been given an undead makeover. Even the treasure maps have a spooky look to them. I can honestly say this is the one of the few times I was actually impressed with a menu.

    The top notch presentation doesn't stop with the menus and maps as all of the excellent voice acting of Red Dead Redemption returns just as sharp as it was in the main story. Most of John Marston's allies and enemies make some sort of cameo and it's a blast to see how some of the more oddball characters face, or in some cases embrace, the undead invasion.

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    Gameplay

    UD3 Everyone loves fighting zombies, it's well documented science, but old western zombies might be a bit much right? Well as it turns out Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare delivers everything you need to satisfy your zombie slaying needs. There are plenty of shuffling undead to off, a nice variety of different zombies to mangle and plenty of weapons for the aforementioned thrashing.

    Speaking of weapons Undead Nightmare offers up a few new ways to tackle your enemies. Throughout the 7-10 hour singleplayer campaign you'll not only earn your old favorites by saving towns and cleansing graveyards, but also pick up a few new gadgets specifically designed for the cowpoke with a zombie problem.

    The new weapons are a welcome addition but things can get just a little stale when it comes to the missions. The side challenges are original and interesting enough to keep players entertained and the story remains quirky and fun throughout the game but you'll likely find yourself wishing there were a few more missions that required you to do something other than ride to an area and exterminate the local zombie population. There is one graveyard clearing mission in particular towards the end of the game that went on for so long I was beginning to think that I was experiencing a bug until it finally ended.

    Slightly repetitive missions aside Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare is a fantastic piece of DLC and fans of the main game will likely be thoroughly entertained all the way through.

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    Graphics

    UD5 Graphically speaking most of the world of Undead Nightmare remains the same as it was in the main game. The new content though is just as excellent as everything you've come to love in Red Dead Redemption. The mythical horses are gorgeous and each has their own set of special effects ranging from flies buzzing around Pestilence to the fiery mane, tail and hooves of War. Even if you didn't enjoy the horse breaking aspect of Red Dead Redemption you'll want to make an exception here as running down a Sasquatch while riding a flaming horse from hell is something not to be missed.

    The zombies themselves are also excellently designed and animated. They'll shuffle and lurch around just as erratically as you'd expect and a wide variety of zombie models populate the world so you'll never feel like you're sending the same ghoul back to the grave.

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    Sound

    UD6 Not only are all of the voice actors in the main game back to provide another round of stellar voice work but the zombies themselves have plenty of new sound effects. There are a huge variety of moans and screams that you'll hear as you gun down the zombie hordes and the satisfying splat of a headshots never gets old.

    Marston himself also has plenty of new dialogue. He'll chime in with his trademark sarcasm as you search corpses for ammunition and he's got plenty of one liners ready to dispense as the campaign progresses. There are some particularly funny moments that will occur as you encounter some brand new random events along the trails.

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    Multiplayer

    UD7 I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the multiplayer content of Undead Nightmare. Far from being an afterthought Undead Nightmare offers two new multiplayer modes and some new zombie themed characters.

    The pick of the litter though as to be Undead Overrun. Here a group of players choose a weapon load out and then faces off against increasingly difficult waves of zombies. All the while a Vincent Price style announcer continually mocks your futile efforts to stem the tide of undead. It's a really well done mode and the number of zombies that you'll end up facing as the rounds pile up gets almost ridiculous.

    The other multiplayer mode, Land Grab is accessed only through freeroam and adds a king of the hill experience. It's good for a little fun while you're riding the trails with a few buddies but generally Undead Overrun is much more entertaining.

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    Controls

    UD8 As you might expect the best way to dispatch the disturbed undead is the good old fashioned head shot. Unfortunately this is the one area where Undead Nightmare stumbles as the game was designed more for combat against gun wielding foes. When you find yourself trapped in a house with undead clawing at your face lining up a crucial headshot, even with a shotgun, is not nearly as smooth or fun as when you're picking them off at range.

    Fortunately Rockstar gives the player a significantly larger dead eye meter in Undead Nightmare so it doesn't become much of a problem and your new trusty torch works decently enough at melee range that you should be able to fend them off long enough to make a break for higher ground.

    That being said the game controls just as well as you'd expect and as long as you're not trapped and out of deadeye you'll enjoy every moment.

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    The Verdict

    UD9  A lot of developers these days are charging a ridiculous amount for their downloadable content. 800-1200 Microsoft points is a pretty common price point for just a few hours of content that is generally tacked onto the main game. With Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare Rockstar really sets the bar for what fans should expect out of DLC.

    Not only do you get an excellent and fully fleshed singleplayer add on that for most players will top out at around 7-10 hours and even longer than that if you feel like completing every challenge and side quest, but on top of that are new multiplayer characters and two new multiplayer modes. I have to admit I was disappointed at most of the other DLC for Red Dead Redemption but Undead Nightmare has blown me away. This is without a doubt one of the best pieces of DLC to grace consoles and if you enjoyed Red Dead Redemption you owe it to yourself to download this expansion.