Review: Red Dead Redemption DLC – Undead Nightmare
Now I know it may seem strange to review the expansion pack of Red Dead Redemption before reviewing the game itself, but let’s face it: Red Dead Redemption is almost universally acknowledged as being a great game. You don’t need me to tell you how innovative, detailed and seamless that world is. You have probably heard everything there is to hear, and that’s if by some strange twist of fate you haven’t played it yet.
But what I’m increasingly surprised to find out is that an alarming amount of people haven’t tried it’s expansion pack, Undead Nightmare – which I think was probably the best expansion pack for a game I’ve seen since Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne.
That’s right. I went there.
Now when I first heard the expansion pack for Red Dead Redemption was going to be Zombie-themed, I was fairly sceptical. I’ve previously established my distrust of Zombies (they are surprisingly stupid for a creature which subsists off of brains, no?) and I generally avoid Zombie games unless I hear they are particularly good. This was my one exception, based off of my love for Red Dead Redemption and my trust in Rockstar as a publisher.
And low and behold, my faith was rewarded.
Undead Nightmare plays like a miniature Red Dead Redemption in a parallel universe. By that I mean, it plays as if it’s a completely different game about half the length of Red Dead taking place in the same world. It has a similar plot structure to the original game; you start as Marston and work your way across America, ending up in Mexico for the finale. Except that this time, every town you come across is infested with Zombies and you have to fight them off before you can quest there. And they keep coming under attack overtime, so you have to keep returning to these places and fighting off the Zombie horde.
This might sound repetitive, but instead (due in large part to the polish of Red Dead Redemption’s combat system and the detail of its horses and riding system) it gives the whole game a very real feeling. There were moments when I was riding through the game and a group of Zombies would be silhouetted on hilltop and for a moment I was thrown back to movies like 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead. In the same way that Red Dead Redemption perfectly captured the Western-Movie world and brought it alive, similarly Undead Nightmare manages to make a Western/Zombie-Movie environment both realistic and engaging.
Of course it’s not all poignant moments and sunsets, the game introduces a whole host of new weapons to combat all of the new types of creatures you are fighting (which range from classic Zombie archetypes – slow, fast, chunky, vomiting; to zombified creatures from the original Red Dead, beware the Zombie-cougar; to creatures right out of left field, like Unicorns and Sasquatches) as well as letting you revisit (and, in a lot of cases, kill) some of your favourite characters from the original game.
But I know there is someone out there (who thinks the same way I do) going “that’s great, but what about the horses? Are there some new wtfpwnage ones to tame?” and to that person I say:
Yes, dear lord yes!
Undead Nightmare offers you the ability to tame the four horses of the Apocalypse, all of which have custom effects which make them basically superior to any other horse you have ever ridden in Red Dead. In case anyone needs a catch up, the four horses of the Apocalypse are War, Famine, Pestilence and Death – and their effects range from invincibility to setting enemies on fire upon contact.
I’m touching on some of the perks of the game because there is another element which I’ve mentioned but can’t seem to capture. It’s a feeling you get when you ride along the rail road tracks with bats flying in the air above you and four Zombies attempting to run down your horse behind you. It’s a glimmer you get in your eye while you are luring Zombies towards a puddle of West Dickens Tonic (works like Zombie catnip) and you throw down a dynamite. It’s being able to finally kill the Sheriff’s deputies for back talking you all the way through original Red Dead. It’s being part of the Zombie sandbox world that is Undead Nightmare.
And, looking back, I probably would’ve paid full retail for it (I certainly have for less) – so 10$ is a pretty sweet bargain.