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Hands-on with Red Dead Redemption's co-op DLC

Next up was The Escape, which started with a raid on an armed wagon train carrying gold. This time around, we kept our distance, picked off the defenders one by one and took the wagons with minimal effort before riding off to the next objective. The secondary wagon actually sports a mounted Gatling gun, which turned out to be just a little tricky to shoot effectively with another player driving. Still, we were able to make it to the next checkpoint – the little ghost town of Tumbleweed – uninjured and ready to take on a waiting horde of enemies. A horde which, it turned out, was a whole lot easier to thin out once we’d taken control of a few cannons positioned strategically along the ridge above the town.

Once we’d cleared out the resistance at Tumbleweed, we rode to Benedict Point, where we were summarily double-crossed by the Army officers who’d apparently hired us in the first place. After a brief standoff/shootout, we grabbed the gold wagon and hauled ass to Mexico, gunning down Army pursuers along the way.

Two of the best missions, however, involve either defending or assaulting a single outpost. In Ammunition, we were tasked with defending the little walled town of Tesoro Azul – during a heavy rainstorm at night, no less – from a Mexican Army assault. This began with waves of troops approaching from the town’s two entrances, and culminated in an artillery bombardment from the cliffs above the town – which, as it turned out, were surprisingly easy to clear with the sniper rifle. While the rain and darkness made scoring headshots from a distance more difficult, it also made it a lot more rewarding; firing a bullet into a tiny flicker of distant movement and seeing a kill message pop up onscreen never gets old.

That leaves the “assaulting” part, which happens in a Fort Mercer-focused mission called The Kidnapped Girl. Here, we were tasked with rescuing a farmer’s daughter from the fort, which was as simple as storming the place, finding her (something that involved getting gunned down while climbing a ladder) and then escorting her to a nearby stagecoach. After that, it was just a matter of massacring outlaws as they tried to rush our gun-filled coach-tank (and lone horseback rider, since the coaches can only seat four) en route to the girl’s home.

Finally – and maybe most tediously – we played The Herd, in which the group ambushed and massacred a group of cattle rustlers who’d holed up at the bottom of Box Canyon (which, as it turns out, is a really bad place to try and defend yourself against long-range gunfire). Once they were dead, we had to ride herd on their stolen cattle, doing our best to keep them safe on the long trek to Armadillo while more rustlers continually rushed us. Miraculously, we didn’t lose a single cow, but be warned: successful or not, your enjoyment of this mission will depend directly on how much you like herding cattle in single-player.

Oh, and we also had a chance to go back and play through the Walton's Gold mission again, and this time we were ready. After chewing through the heavy resistance in the open area outside the mine, moving into the tunnels – where the Walton goons could only attacks us two or three at a time – was a relative cakewalk. Once we'd cleared them out, we were tasked with running around the mine to gather up sacks of gold, and then dump them in a waiting minecart. Once it was full, one of the group pushed it up to the mine entrance while everyone else covered him and/or ran for safety from the mine's impending explosion, which we escaped in time. 

The sixth mission – The River – apparently involves riding a raft down a river and attacking Mexican rebel encampments (and Gatling-equipped rafts) before landing at the village of Nosalida and wiping out the rebels holed up there. We didn’t get to actually play it, but it sounds like a good time.

If all that isn’t enough, the DLC also brings new Achievements/Trophies, new opportunities to get multiplayer XP and medals, which can unlock more powerful starting weapons for the four character classes. Also, anyone seeking a bigger challenge can unlock “advanced” versions of the missions by completing all six of them once; while these are largely the same, they’ll be a lot tougher. If you have any interest at all in Red Dead’s multiplayer, plan to download this one as soon as possible. If nothing else, it’s hard to argue with the price tag.

Jun 21, 2010

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