PSN Review – Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare

October 29, 2010 Written by Ray Conley

With the Halloween nearly in full swing, what better way for Rockstar to celebrate it by treating their fans with some spooky DLC. Undead Nightmare is here and it is looking to put a spin on one of Rockstar’s most popular titles, Red Dead Redemption. Can the undead treat its wild-western fans to a bone-chilling tale, or does this zombie infestation pack trick them by eating their cash (and brains) for a quick snack?

Undead Nightmare is, without a doubt, Rockstar’s finest DLC for Red Dead Redemption. With this fifth addition to the list of DLC, Undead Nightmare does an exceptional job at taking the serious tone of the original game and flips it into a crazy, fun-filled ride.  With an all new story, new weapons, and new modes for multiplayer, you can easily find yourself getting caught up in the seasonal sport of zombie hunting.

In the single player campaign, you’ll be greeted with a brand new storyline that will thrust you back into the saddle as John Marston.  All the original characters from Redemption are back, but they’ll be acting out in a much different story that has nothing to do with the original campaign. This tale is quite over-the-top, and purposefully so, and that really helps this tale deliver a unique and thrilling experience in a zombie ridden land.

Our story begins with the hero, Mr. John Marston, who is riding home to his ranch in West Elizabeth on a dark and stormy night. Once home, he is greeted with his warm and loving family of wife and son. However, John just can’t seem to get over this hankering feeling that something “ain’t” right. Their uncle hasn’t come home yet, but the family retires for the night, promising to look for him in the morning – and then the nightmare begins.

Overall, you’ll recognize that the presentation of this dark world is superb. The animations and voice acting are top-notch, thus proving that Rockstar allowed no slack to be had with this production. The landscape in this expansion has been redone to allow a creepy atmosphere. Cloudy skies and fog are very prevalent in the spooky environment, backed by the moan and screams of unseen . The soundtrack also does an outstanding job of setting the tone as it boasts new tunes while borrowing a few tracks from the original depending on the situation.

In Undead Nightmare, a few things have changed from the original game, which help make the game feel somewhat fresh, and challenging given your current dire situation. First of all, mostly everyone is a zombie, and in a zombie infested land nothing is safe. As a result, the whole land is now a dog-eat-dog world, where everyone is only looking out for their own survival. Your good old campsite feature has been removed – way too dangerous to camp in the wild with the hungry undead roaming about.  Ammo cannot be purchased, so get ready to dig into the rotting flesh of the killed to loot them for ammo.

In fact, ammo is intentionally sparse in this game, making it main motive for hunting and for survival. There is no Honor system either – you do what you can to survive, even if it means putting down a few friendlies to stockpile on your ammo count.  There’s no shame in surviving, you’re going to need all you can get.

The there are a few variants among the horde that you’ll encounter. You’ll see your typical stumbling zombies who will bust into a sprint to catch their next meal. There are some creepy ones that crawl on all fours and scurry much quicker than the first. You’ll also have to deal with some that project green glowing vomit. No matter what form of zombie you trip over, the surest method of ending their hunger is with a single bullet to the noggin – a method that has yet to fail when dealing with the undead. Placing rounds into their appendages is just wasting ammo, so you’re better off just using a torch if they get too close for firearms.

If you are in need of a safe haven, you’ll have to pack some heat to start cleansing the towns.  Every city has been overtaken by the undead; the few survivors that are left will need your help to take out the trash. Once you’ve purged the infestation, you’ll get the opportunity to locate a safe house and save your current progress. However if a city is left alone too long, you’ll get notifications if starts to come under attack again. Cleansing the cities will be essential if you’re the type who likes to fast travel, as you’ll only be able to make the quick jumps to the cities that you’ve cleaned up.

However, don’t be so eager to take short-cuts by puddle jumping from city to city. Many excitements lie in wait in the undead wilderness. Just like in Redemption, you’ll encounter random events, albeit with a zombie flare. You’ll rescue a people who are about to become zombie lunch, and even come across unique campsites setup with morbid humor. The lively animals are now undead creatures, but their aggression is still the same as it was from the original. Many new challenges are also available to complete in your Journal, so spending time in the open wild can help you master your rankings. Doing so will help gain you more ammo and stat bonuses to help you cope with the zombie horde.

Mythological creatures have also spawned into the world into the nightmarish Red Dead, and you’ll get to hunt them down. Be sure to keep a keen eye for the four unique apocalyptic horses as well. These awesomely rendered horses can be captured and tamed to become your trusty steed, providing some elemental bonuses when you trample zombies under the hoof, such as putting them to flame or having their heads burst with a quick ride-by.

Granted, some of the thrill was slightly marred by a few uncanny quirks. When trying to retrieve items from the dead, you may dance around the body trying to find that sweet spot for the “Search body” prompt to display. Many times, I would be standing on top of a body marked with that much needed ammo, only to constantly reposition myself while kicking the corpse around before finding the search option. In a world where the dead don’t wait, this can be very frustrating. Hunting for that mythical creature isn’t as hard as it sounds nor is it really that challenging either. Once when you get the quest to look for those unique animals, a quick look at the map will tell you exactly where their general area is, which kind of removes any “hunting” element from the search.

One of my favorite aspects of Undead Nightmare is the multiplayer. You’ll get two new modes in this one: Undead Overrun and Land Grab. In Undead Overrun, you and up to four other players will have to fend off infinite waves of zombies at various cemetery locations, with each wave increasing in size. You’ll randomly encounter moments where you’ll be given bonuses, such as extra ammo, fire-bursting phosphorus rounds, or holy water. Weapons will also spawn at different intervals, but the first player to the crate gets to keep it. Teamwork is essential if you intend to survive more than just a couple of rounds, so make sure to revive your buddy when you see them about to become a zombie snack. If a certain wave of the undead cannot be finished in a certain amount of time, the round turns into a sudden death match, where death will be imminent up to the last man standing. Overall, the chaos that ensues from this mode is downright fun and hectic.

Land Grab is a king-of-the-hill type gameplay which is initiated on the public Free Roam map. In this game mode, no zombies are involved, but it’s still a nice addition to the online feature. Land Grab can only be initiated by anyone with the Undead Nightmare pack, but anyone on the Free Roam server is free to join in the gunfight for territory.

Undead Nightmare is definitely bursting at the seams with the scope of content in its single player production and fun multiplayer additions. In fact, I believe that this is Rockstar’s best DLC to date for Red Dead. This newest addition is easily a must buy for anyone with a copy of Red Dead Redemption. There is tons of fun to be had if you’re just “dying” to purge the world of evil or if you’re looking to get the best bang for your buck.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ Top-notch production values.

+ Great restructuring of gameplay and lots of mission variety.

+ Multiplayer additions are fun and engaging.

9 out of 10