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Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare super review

Multiplayer isn’t the central draw of an add-on like Undead Nightmare; seeing more of the single-player game is a lot more compelling, at least in the short run. But once you’ve run through that, you might be interested to know that Undead Nightmare also comes with Undead Overrun, a zombie-flavored Horde mode that might be the best multiplayer experience RDR has offered thus far.

The setup is simple: you and up to three friends are dropped into the middle of one of the game’s cemeteries, and have to stay alive against progressively tougher waves of undead as a timer slowly ticks down. Each wave comes with a coffin full of ammo, weapon upgrades and time on the clock, so the challenge is to distract or hold off the hordes long enough for one of you to crack it open. After that, it’s just a matter of watching each others’ backs and hoping you’re fast enough on the draw to keep the zombies from getting too close. It’s pretty fun in short bursts, with action can get extremely crowded and chaotic. And with the action as heavy as it is, it’s a good thing that zombies no longer have to be shot in the head in order to be killed – otherwise, staying alive would be a nightmare.

Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony? No – although if it felt more like a complete game and less like a lengthy encore, it might be. One is an add-on to an existing world almost substantial enough to stand on its own, while the other – however fun – is a comparatively brief “what-if?” scenario with simple missions and zombies. If it were about twice as long and filled with twice as much stuff to do, Undead Nightmare would probably be on par with The Ballad of Gay Tony – although even as it is now, it feels awfully close.

Left 4 Dead? No – but it depends on what we’re talking about, here. If the question is which game is a better single-player zombie-slaying experience, then Red Dead wins it hands down. It’s got more weapons, a deeper story and a big, open world filled with zombies and other, more unsettling things. However, as great as Undead Overrun is, we don’t see it wresting away L4D’s multiplayer audience or popularity anytime soon. It’s also worth pointing out the obvious: these are two wildly different games, and while Nightmare errs more on the goofy, gory side of horror, L4D can actually be in-your-face terrifying. But since Undead Nightmare takes a few obvious cues from L4D, comparisons are unavoidable.

Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned? Actually, yes. Make no mistake, L&D is longer and more involving than Undead Nightmare, but Undead Nightmare is a lot more fun – and while both add-ons cast a bleak, visual-filter-assisted pall over their respective worlds, Undead Nightmare does more interesting things with it. If nothing else, a desperate, freewheeling, West-spanning fight against a zombie apocalypse is infinitely more appealing than biker-gang politics. So’s anything else involving John Marston, really.

Undead Nightmare packs a surprisingly meaty, zombie-infested single-player experience that essentially reinvents the game, piles a fun four-player mode on top of that and sprinkles in a few hidden extras. The missions can get repetitive, but given that the asking price is $10, it’s hard to find serious fault with that – or with the package overall.

Oct 26, 2010

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.