When I first learned that Rockstar was going to be adding zombies to "Red Dead Redemption," I'll admit there was a palpable eye-roll. Zombies, it seems, have become the norm in video games lately, and for a company that has always prided itself on innovation, it seemed like an odd choice for Rockstar to make. But, after playing through about an hour of the DLC pack, entitled "Undead Nightmare," I'm absolutely on-board.
A Different World
Unlike any of the "Red Dead Redemption" DLC that has come so far, "Undead Nightmare" is sort of its own thing, separated out like the "Grand Theft Auto 4" DLC episodes were. You'll be able to access the episode from the start menu, and once you enter it, the difference is drastic. This is a darker, more foreboding world than the sunny plains of the main game, and that's even without seeing a single zombie. Dark storm clouds cover the sky, with occasional streams of light breaking through, giving the atmosphere an other-worldly quality.
And then you start riding through familiar fields and notice some other difference. Houses on fire, carcasses piled up. Oh, and zombies, which shamble aimlessly throughout the countryside looking for noms.
Fighting The Zombie Hordes
Structurally, "Undead Nightmare" is similar to the main game, in that you're completing missions around the map. There are still fully-voiced cutscenes from familiar characters, like the insane gravedigger Seth, and despite the setting, the tone of these is actually pretty light and humorous. John Marston, the game's hero, is as skeptical about the appearance of zombies as anyone and asks the questions that are probably already floating around in your head.
But why they're here isn't what matters. All that matters is killing them. To that end, you've got a few new weapons at your disposal. A torch lets you set zombies on fire, but holy water is even more effective and can take out a group in an instant. You've also got the Blunderbuss, a ridiculous weapon which uses zombie parts as ammo and basically turns any target into a fine red mist. Unfortunately these weapons won't carry over to your main game, but I guess holy water wouldn't be too much use against a bandito, right?
Taming The Horses Of the Apocalypse
In addition to the missions you'll be taking on to rid the world of the zombie infestation, there are a few other side activities you can take on. One of them is going after mythical creatures who are scattered about the world. When you get near one of them, a message will pop up on screen. Just know that you'll have a fight ahead of you.
Rockstar was able to reveal four of these mythical beasts: the four horses of the apocalypse. Yep, you can tame and ride Death's horse (which causes zombies heads to explode as you ride by) or War's horse (which sets zombies ablaze). Plague and Famine are in there too! There's going to be a handful of additional mythical beasts in the game, and they're not all horses, so you never know what could be around the corner.
In addition to the single-player game, which Rockstar estimates will take around 5 to 6 hours to complete, "Undead Nightmare" also features a new multiplayer mode. Unfortunately I'm not allowed to talk about it just yet, but trust me, it's meaty.
"Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare" will be available on Xbox Live and PSN on October 26 for a price of 800 MS points or $9.99.