Not Going Back

One of the big surprises of last year for me was Red Dead Redemption. Many people had been downloading preview videos and reading articles about it for months before release, but I had had my head in the sand on this one. Loving GTA as I do, the thought of GTA: Cowboys sounded interesting at first, until I realised that the things I like most about GTA were fairly unlikely to appear in Red Dead Redemption:

  • The feel of a living, breathing city.
  • Driving cars. Very fast. Into and over people and scenery.
  • Flying helicopters. (Again, mostly into other things)

In the end, I mainly bought it because I was aware that the large majority of the Ready Up team (and most of the forum members) were getting it, and I wanted to play the multiplayer modes with them. As it happened, I ended up playing very little of the multiplayer, as I got stuck into the fantastic campaign. Red Dead Redemption was often a sort of eery, dreamlike adventure, with long periods of simply riding across the beautiful game world, spiked with moments of high action and excitement. Many people got bored of all the riding from place to place, but for me it enhanced the game somehow, by really making it feel like it was you and your horse against the vast, empty world. It also helped you connect to the character, in the same way that doing mundane things like setting up for a children’s birthday party in Heavy Rain did.

And the story, well, I loved it. John Marston’s character was fantastically well realised, so it was of no surprise to me that his character won Ready Up’s Best Character of the Year award. The ending was magnificent, and I put down my controller in awe. What a game.

So, when Rockstar announced the extra DLC for the game, I should have been there like a flash, with money (or Microsoft points) burning a hole in my wallet, ready to invest. But this wasn’t just any old DLC, consisting of more missions, characters and locations to explore, no, this was Undead Nightmare, combining the beautiful world of Red Dead Redemption… with zombies and mythical beasts. It sounds like a lot of silly fun. I follow Rockstar on Twitter (@rockstargames) and they frequently reply and retweet comments from people regarding flaming horses, slaughtering zombies and just having a good old fashioned, zombie slayin’, rip-roaringly good time. I’m quite sure it’s brilliant. I’m also quite sure that I don’t want to play it.

Oooooooooooh, my horse is on fiiiiiiiiiire.

I’ve got nothing against zombies or any of that. I’m not some sort of po-faced arse who only plays “serious” or “realistic” games and tuts at anything less highbrow. It’s just that playing John Marston versus zombies would, to me, singlehandedly wipe out all of the majesty and grace of the main story and I wouldn’t be able to look back on it in the same way. I’m sure the Mona Lisa would be much more fun if you were to stick a pair of funny glasses and a clown wig on it, but I’d rather think of the original masterpiece.

Rockstar has been a victim of its own success here — if the main game had been less engrossing, if the story had been a bit weaker or the characters more one-dimensional, then I’d probably be riding around on a flaming horse beheading zombies as we speak. But it wasn’t and I’m not going back.






7 responses to “Not Going Back”

  1. Unsocialtoaster avatar

    I completely, wholeheartedly and definitely agree with you Tony, flaming zombie horses would ruin what I remember of probably my favorite single player story of this console generation

  2. Celeste avatar

    I can’t wait to play this game, Tony. Did you ever play Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion? When I stared that game I vowed only ever to reach any destination by riding there on my horse. Of course that only lasted like a day or something but the point is that I wanted to be in that world. I felt connected to who I was in it. And I anticipate something similar with RDR.

    I haven’t played yet because I’m too busy with other games. I’m saving myself for this baby – don’t want any disturbances.

  3. Emily avatar

    Interesting. I’m pretty sure I feel the same way as you do with regard to the main game and the story (I haven’t touched multiplayer), but I purchased Undead Nightmare and I absolutely flipping love it.

    I don’t feel like it stamps on the world they already made, it feels like a completely different game, and so I feel totally detached from the main story. Honestly, it’s great fun, but the main thing I like about Undead Nightmare is it’s actually more challenging.
    I feel like I strolled through RDR without really getting stuck anywhere or being particularly challenged. Yeah I made mistakes and failed missions from time to time, but once you have dead eye at level 3 I felt like there was barely any challenge at all. Still perfectly enjoyable mind.

    This time you actually need to think fast, conserve ammo, and aim skillfully. There are some stupidly fast zombies, Undead Nightmare gives me more fast-paced, pumped up bursts of action, while on the whole the main game feels solitary, slower paced, and dare I say it easy (only as far as shooting is concerned, finding buried treasure and knifing bears is another story).
    I’m sure you could enjoy it if you look at is as a step outside of the main game. It’s genuinely hilarious at times, too.

  4. TimG13 avatar

    First, let me say how much I love Red Dead Redemption. It’s not quite as good as GTA IV, but that’s missing the point.

    Anyway, when I first heard that RDR was getting a ton of DLC I was hoping for something along the lines of The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony. Instead it was going to focus on expanding the multiplayer, which I don’t have a problem with, before jumping on the zombie bandwagon. It wasn’t exactly grasping the potential I’d hoped it would but I still had the intention of checking out Undead Nightmare, although the sceptic inside me waited for the Christmas price reduction. What I’m trying to say, not very successfully, is that everybody seems to be including zombies in their games today. Now I enjoy turning a zombie’s brain into mush as much as the next person, but isn’t it about time someone came up with something original? I’m sure I’ll find Undead Nightmare brilliant, when I get round to playing it, but rather than disapproving of the huge contrast I’m more concerned that zombies may in fact one day take over the world.

  5. Mark P avatar

    It’s almost ironic then that that flaming horse’s name is indeed “Ruin”.

    Well, it is if Darksiders’ not-entirely-Biblically-accurate take on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is anything to go by.

  6. Simon avatar

    Conceeeeeerned by my horse which is on fiiiiiire.

  7. Leon avatar

    I’m on the edge of this one – I feel the same way about how it could ruin the experience of Red Dead – if it had been a continuation of the first game, I would have snapped it up, especially being a large DLC pack in the vein of the GTA episodes.
    I keep feeling like I’ll pick it up at some point, but the fact that it’s completely irrelevant to the first game just makes it feel like filler.

    I guess my biggest problem is that while I actually preferred the Lost and Damned to GTA4, I can’t possibly see the loose zombie story coming even close the greatness of that of Red Deads main game.

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