Once you’ve filled up an onscreen quota meter – which varies in size depending on the town – it’s just a matter of mopping up the remaining zombies, and the town is pronounced clear. That’s not to say it’ll be totally free of zombies, but you’ll at least get a new gun for your trouble, and you’ll be able to sleep, change outfits and fast-travel from there (so long as it doesn’t come under attack again, anyway). Freeing towns also restores them to their usual, sunny appearance, lifting the weird, foggy gloom that Undead Nightmare brings with it.
Above: Surrounded by walking dead people who tolerate his company, creepy old Seth couldn't be happier
Clearing graveyards and towns is fun, but it gets awfully damned repetitive. So it’s a good thing that Undead Nightmare also features a full (if somewhat short) set of story and Stranger missions that bring back most of the cast. Most of the actual tasks aren’t anything too impressive – go capture a live zombie, pick some specific herbs, clear this or that cemetery – but the story is fascinating (if a little self-consciously silly), and there’s one mission that San Andreas fans in particular should get a kick out of. The story also offers up a few memorable set-pieces, a couple of which even feature their own unique music tracks. And after the mournful, pretty vocal tracks that made for some of RDR’s most memorable moments, it’s actually refreshing – and more than a little appropriate – that their equivalents this go-round are B-movie surf-rock tunes.
What else is there?
Playing through the story will take around six hours, but there’s a lot more to uncover in Undead Nightmare – like a bunch of new random wilderness encounters, which range from lost survivors in need of a lift to insane cannibals and vomiting, soon-to-turn infected victims. The wild is crawling with zombie animals, too, which are both more and less of a pain in the ass now that they can/must all be put down with a single headshot.
Above: To hell with this stupid thing. You can’t even skin it. Wave a torch in its face and see if it goes away
And then there are the Four Horses of the Apocalypse, which include War, Famine, Pestilence and Death – as well as an ultra-rare unicorn that’s wandering somewhere out in the brush. All of them can be lassoed, broken and ridden, and they all have cool powers, like infinite stamina, flaming hooves or the ability to touch-kill zombies, which make them a big help when riding through mobs of the undead.
On the other hand, if one of your horses – super-powered or “real” – dies, then you might find that whistling up a new one attracts a zombie horse. Zombie horses are actually cool to have around, since they’re faster and more durable than regular horses, but their tendency to want to veer off course makes them a little more difficult to handle.
Also, if you like a little more structure in your optional side-tasks, you can head to Fort Mercer or El Presidio to take on missing-persons missions. These are similar to the bounty missions in the main game, the difference being that your “bounties” will come with you willingly, once you’ve rescued them from whatever remote building they’ve holed up in. These are about as fun as the bounty missions were – which is to say they’re enjoyable, but repetitive. Also, they disappear once you’ve “finished” Undead Nightmare (although you only really seem to need to undertake one or two of them).