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Howdy pardners! I must admit that when I first heard about one of my favorite games was going to add zombies to it, I shook my head. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some zombies, but the latest influx of zombies has become a bit tiresome. It’s as if to say that writers have become lazy and that by adding zombies to a game it will magically become better. I think we have all discovered that this isn’t necessarily true, and zombies in the Old West? C’mon man… But then again, this is Rockstar, masters at the art of creating interesting sandboxes that I want to play in. And any reason to go back to the Old West world they created for Red Dead Redemption, I was in. What I found is that Rockstar had not only successfully added zombies to a game, but they created a surreal Halloweentown environment that is sure to please fans of that genre.
The game starts off near the end. Our good friend John Marston is home with his wife and son when Uncle shows up acting strange. He chases them around the home and bites John’s wife and son. In a matter of minutes the two turn into strange creatures and start going after Marston. So what’s a cowboy supposed to do? Well hog tie them up and go searching for a cure, that’s what. You don your steed and make for the nearest town, only to find it’s been overrun with flesh eating monsters as well. This is gonna be a long day, I reckon.
I must admit that my skepticism about the DLC was almost immediately erased. For Rockstar hasn’t just added in extra missions and such for you to accomplish, but they have essentially changed the entire sandbox. The sky has a eerie orange tint to it and the landscape is riddled with undead creatures. Even the birds that fly overhead have been replaced with bats. This alone would be cool, but gameplay and strategy have changed dramatically as well. Ammo in the game becomes a huge concern as the shops you would normally go and purchase these items are all closed (victims of the zombie plague, I suppose). So looting each undead nasty is essential as you might find a bullet or two to help you out. The scarcity of ammunition adds to the tension of each encounter, and in a good way. You’ll need to be a good shot when fighting the zombie hoard, as only a shot to the head will kill these creatures. Multiple shots to the body will only piss them off and slow them down a tad. Safe-houses are no longer just available for you to purchase, they have to be liberated. Each town you encounter has been overrun by zombies and must be defended. If you help the few remaining survivors fend off the attack, you get a place to stay; at least for a little while as return attacks can and do happen.
The random encounters of Red Dead Redemption have also been retooled. ou’ll see random survivors being chased across the plains by bands of zombies. Save these folks and you might actually get some more ammo. Be careful, however, as gunshots can attract more zombies. Is that lady on the path really in need of help, or is she planning on feeding off your flesh? Mythical creatures also roam the land, and you’ll have the opportunity to hunt a Sasquatch or the dreaded Chupacabra down in Mexico. There are even undead mounts, and all of Four Horses of the Apocolypse can be captured and ridden as well. Each mount has its own special ability, but don’t expect these zombie horses to behave normally; they are dead, after all.
Perhaps the best part of this DLC is the story, which is done in such an over-the-top way that it makes the seemingly ridiculous appear somewhat plausible. Rockstar never takes itself seriously and encounters where your friend proclaims that he’s going to just “walk on down this dark deserted street to get my bag,” are staples in this game. You’ll laugh out loud at how characters react and then find yourself jumping at a creature that pops out at your shortly afterward. You’ll get to interact with familiar characters from the original game as well, but be prepared that not all of them are going to be friendly.
The DLC pack was launched right around Halloween and includes some new multiplayer options as well. Up to four players can defend an area in Undead Overrun or defend territories of land from evil nasties in Land Grab. The cost of the DLC is around $10 or you can go an purchase a disc with this and the other Red Dead Redemption downloadable packs for $30 at a nearby retail store. While Halloween may be long over, the fun of playing this DLC certainly isn’t. For $10 there is a ton of content and gameplay, and honestly it feels like whole new game to me. Well worth the gift you give yourself or one of your zombie-loving friends.