It takes a special kind of game to pull off a zombie apocalypse. Just imagine the response if Super Mario Galaxy or Metal Gear Solid offered a downloadable campaign full of smelly undead brain-eaters. Yet the infusion of zombies feels perfectly natural in the world of Red Dead Redemption. And best of all, it gives millions of virtual cowboys another reason to saddle up and play one of 2010's best games.
Unlike the last several downloadable packs, Undead Nightmare is a full-featured single player adventure. We're given a good ten hours worth of new missions, side-quests, hunting and more. It also offers a bunch of new multiplayer components, but the real meat of this experience is in the brand new adventure full of the walking dead.
Even though Undead Nightmare stars John Marston and a good chunk of the cast from Red Dead Redemption, it is not a sequel. There are certainly references to the events of the first game, but trying to keep the continuity straight between the two is pointless. This is nothing more than a crazy Tales from the Crypt-style episode of Red Dead Redemption, which turns out to be exactly what I needed this Halloween season.
We pick up with John Marston after he's freed his wife and young boy. This is the life John fought so hard to protect, and things seem to have worked out for the guy. One day our hero discovers a pack of zombies who are in the market for some fresh brains. He narrowly escapes, but not before his family is turned into these vile creatures. Not knowing exactly what to do, John ties his two loved-ones up and sets out for a cure. Along the way he meets up with a number of familiar faces, joins the military, hunts for answers and, most importantly, kills thousands of zombies.
Undead Nightmare is set in the same world you explored in the original game, only this time around everything is on fire and there are only a handful of survivors. All of the towns and graveyards have been overrun, so it's up to John to help the wounded and win back the country for the living. Usually this means he'll need to kill a certain amount of zombies before they finally get the hint, but in some cases our hero will go toe-to-gross-rotting-flesh-toe against easy boss characters.
The whole thing plays out in a fairly predictable way, at least from a gameplay point of view. Fans of the original game will feel right at home taking quests and helping people alongside the dirt roads. The narrative isn't as deep and interesting as the first game, but the story has a satisfying ending and offers enough changes to the world to keep things exciting. Best of all, it offers a great nod to anybody who is still choked up about the original game's emotional ending.
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