“When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth”- Dawn of the Dead
So when hell is full the dead will walk? Okay I can buy that! But what happens when the video gaming industry has completely run out of ideas? Well then the dead may start walking around in popular videogames.
Back in 2008 the wildly popular Call of Duty franchise chose to give players something new to shoot at when developers added Zombies’ mode to Call of Duty: World at War. The popularity of this game led ‘Zombie’ mode to later on be added to the 2012 release Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, – thus cementing the shambling undead as a gaming staple.
However, it took till 2010 for any gaming company to consider placing zombies in a less modern setting, in the case of Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare the American Old West.
Players don’t have the option to jump into a helicopter to fly away to safety or to use a rapid firing machine gun to fight off the zombie hoards because they didn’t exist! Instead players have to rely on the old western panache of gun savvy western cowboys to take out the undead and pray like hell that their horse can plow through zombies without you getting pulled off to a bite by bite death.
Unlike Red Dead Redemption, Undead Nightmare starts off rather peacefully with John Marston, a onetime outlaw turned family man and farmer, enjoying some family time with his wife Abigail and son, Jack. However their peaceful lives are quickly disrupted by the arrival of the questionable named ‘Uncle’ who quickly turns the Marston family into a family of the undead – leaving John once again with gun in hand as he tries to figure out what the hell is going on.
Upon arriving in the nearby town of Blackwater, John quickly discovers that nobody has any idea what is going on not even Harvard professor Harold MacDougal (who players of Red Dead Redemption will remember) who offers up this brilliant bit of Rockstar writing –
“Well, sir, I’m a man of science, a man of great learning, a thinker, a wise man and I’ll be honest with you, sir… I haven’t got a f&%*^*g clue.”
And do you know what happens in a zombie infested world when you haven’t got a f&%*^*g clue? You get eaten. So now John will need to get his arsenal of guns to go on a cross country zombie shooting spree to try and discover why the dead are walking and in the words of John “biting chunks outta people” all while helping survivors, and cleansing cemeteries and towns of the undead.
When you think about it there is something just right about zombies in the old west. Not only does everybody already have a weapon (I am so not kidding about this) but everybody already has a strong survival instinct that makes them way less useless than the bots in most zombie games who scream ‘Save me’ every five minutes (cough Ashley Graham cough).
The game features many Red Dead Redemptions original characters including the not quite right Seth Briars, the fast talking snake oil salesman Nigel West Dickens, and even the Jewish hating store owner Herbert Moon along with all of the original New Austen and Mexican locations.
Despite all these returning guests and locations, gamers who haven’t experiences the epicness that is Red Dead Redemption can still easily enjoy Undead Nightmare which acts almost like a standalone game with a few references from the previous game thrown in to keep old players happy.
New gamers get to enjoy all the perks of the previous Red Dead Redemption game but with more zombie goodness thrown in! So you no longer get to skin any animals – now you can pull bits of zombies off to create ammunition for the zombie powered Blunderbuss! Yeah there’s no more bounty hunting missions but now you can rescue innocent people in the ‘Missing Persons’ side missions.
However, the game does feature a few major differences from its predecessor including the removal of money as currency. In most games you receive money after helping someone but in Undead Nightmare money has deemed as pretty much useless since who needs money when they are about to be eaten anyway? Instead the characters and missions of Undead Nightmare award the player with bullets a seriously valuable commodity in a world overrun by the undead.
The game also removed the ‘Honour’ meter which could lead John to jail time in the last game. This lack of ‘Honour’ meter means John can literally do whatever he wants in a town. If you want to just walk in a town and start killing survivors to steal some bullets – go right ahead, though the other townsfolk may not be so pleased with your decision.
Though the game originally started off a downloadable DLC pack, it became popular enough for Rockstar Gaming to decided that releasing a separate disk would be totally worth it, thus making this onetime DLC playable not only without Xbox Live but also without the original game.
Another positive to Undead Nightmare that sets it apart from other zombie modes and DLC’s is that it actually features a definitive storyline rather than just being a how many zombies can I shoot sort of world. Though the writing in Red Dead Redemption was already pretty awesome, Undead Nightmare takes it to a whole new level with some amazing one liners from both John and background characters.
The only downside to the game is that old fans may find themselves wondering “when the hell does this take place?” as they deal with characters who died long before John reunited with his wife and son.
If the game does have any flaws they are very minor including the inability to climb ladders or jump onto objects while zombies claw at your feet. However these sort of challenges actually can sometime make the game more enjoyable as you find yourself panicking to find a place to shoot from while zombies claw at your back.
Oh and did I forget to mention that it has a multiplayer option for those of you with Xbox Live? Well it does and it even lets you play as a zombie character if the mood hits you. Not only does the multiplayer mode feature the classic games like Free Roam and Mexican Standoff but now gamers have the option to choose Undead Overrun where you fight endless waves of the undead or Land Grab where you fight to take control of a particular area of the game.
When all is said and done Undead Nightmare is definitely a zombie game that packs serious bite! With a strong storyline, great missions and endless waves of the undead, Undead Nightmare is a game that offers you hours of awesome gameplay. Oh and did I forget to mention that you get to kill Sasquatch? Yeah – you get to fight Sasquatch.
Recommendation: Buy it and love it forever