Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare – Review (PS3 DLC)

Following on from the stunning Red Dead Redemption, which took home my Game Of The Year award for 2010, Rockstar Games have served up Undead Nightmare – a large enough slice of downloadable content that it warranted it’s own retail disc release as well.

But isn’t Undead Nightmare ‘just another Zombie mode?’

In a way it is but at the same time it’s the best produced and enjoyable DLC I’ve encountered for a while.

A lot of DLC that arrives these days is for use within the multplayer part of the game – for example Battlefield: Bad Company 2’s Onslaught DLC or Killzone 2‘s map packs. That isn’t the case here as Undead Nightmare also features an impressive single player campaign to boot.

In my playthrough I finished all of the main missions and side missions but certainly didn’t make it through all the challenges and other fun stuff there is to do. My finish time was a little over 7 hours, which actually puts a few other main game releases to shame.

The style of this DLC is very much tongue in cheek and is set up almost like a B-Movie in tone – with a wonderfully creepy voiceover and some great music.

The campaign finds John Marston trying to help find a cure for a plague-style disease that has hit the area and is turning the deceased into flesh eating Zombies.

This all takes place in parallel to the story of the main Red Dead Redemption game and I won’t be discussing anything else story-wise for fear of giving anything away. All I will say is that it was great to revisit some of the characters from the main game and that the campaign’s story was a lot of fun.

As Marston you’ll be tasked with helping out troubled towns as well as completing story based missions. When you first arrive in a town you’ll need to help the survivors fight off the Zombies before being able to use it as a save point and fast travel destination.

From time to time a ‘safe’ town will be struck again by Zombies and you’ll need to get back to help them out – once a town is overrun (all other survivors die) it is gone forever, so it is worth giving them a hand.

Speaking of overrun the online part of this expansion, Undead Overrun, is truly panic inducing. I thought Seige mode on Uncharted 2 (in which you face wave after wave of enemies) was tough but my word, Overrun tops it. More for the sheer mental torture it inflicts as between four players you try your best to survive as long as possible.

Different types of Zombie come after you and at times there can be 20 or 30 of them chasing you. It really is tense stuff.

If you buy the retail disc or the full Undead Collection DLC you also get the previous few DLC packs which are strictly online but give you access to new gang hideouts and the ability to play poker and liar’s dice online (both brilliant) and also take part in horse races, along with a new territory based Free Roam game called Land Grab.

Overall then Undead Nightmare is a must buy if you loved Red Dead Redemption. You will easily get your money’s worth from the campaign alone but the multiplayer additions are definitely worth checking out – killing Zombies has never been so much fun!

Rating: 10/10

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Vanquish – Review (PS3)

 

Following on from the success of Bayonetta in early 2010, Platinum Games released their next project at the back end of the year. Could lightning strike twice for the talented Japanese studio?

Yes, it most certainly could.

Telling the story of Sam Gideon, a member of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Vanquish tasks you with rescuing a scientist who was working on the O’Neill Cylinder Space Station when it was hijacked by Russia. Russia are holding the USA to ransom, destroying San Francisco and targeting New York next unless the Americans comply with their wishes – total surrender.

Got all that? Right now forget all about it and SHOOT THOSE ROBOTS!

Vanquish is not a story based game, it’s a brilliant gameplay experience but what little story it has is wonderfully absurd and hardly tied to the game itself.

Sam has a mechanical suit that allows you to take plenty of damage but also enter a form of the ‘witch-time’ that appeared in Bayonetta. Whenever you trigger it time slows to a crawl and your shots deal a lot more damage. It also triggers automatically if you are about to die, giving you some valuable extra seconds to finish off the enemies or find some cover.

Whilst the gameplay does repeat itself – take cover, kill a load of robots, move on, take cover, kill a bigger robot etc – there is just enough variety in enemy type and setting to keep the game from becoming stale.

It also helps that it’s fairly short, coming in between 5 and 6 hours for the campaign.

Vanquish is certainly an experience I’d recommend and for a few sessions of a couple of hours each it is a blast to play. It doesn’t quite have the same depth as Bayonetta with regard to the characters but it can hold it’s head high in terms of a single player experience.

Rating: 7/10

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GregHorrorShow’s Guide To Gaming – Part 2: Gaming Tips

So following on from my breakdown of gaming terms in Part 1 (see here) I thought it might be worth also sharing a few basic tips that may help new PS3 users or folks that are looking to get into gaming.

They might seem obvious but I would’ve liked someone to give me a heads up on a few of them before I learnt the hard way!

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INVERT THE Y AXIS

This is the first thing I do before starting any game but it’s really down to what suits you. Essentially when you play a game like Grand Theft Auto or Red Dead Redemption the right stick on the pad controls the movement of the camera. By default it’s set to look upwards when you press the stick forward and look down when you press the stick backwards. I just can’t control the camera with it set up like this and the Invert option reverses that (so pressing forward looks down etc). Handy tip for those gamers who keep looking at the floor instead of up at the sky 😆 This can usually be found in the OPTIONS menu under CONTROLS.

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RUN A BACK UP SAVE

Wherever possible you should create a second save file when saving your game and then alternate between them when you save. For a start it means if one corrupts you can use the other without having to restart the game (a nightmare scenario in those big 20+ hour games) and it also means if you wanted to experiment in games where there is story choice you can do so and then jump back to the other file if you don’t like the outcome. This takes seconds to do but is really worth it.

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DON’T BE AFRAID TO TRY EASY

Players shouldn’t be scared to tone down the difficulty if they are struggling.

It sounds crazy but some people seem to think that dropping below Normal setting is some sort of crime. There are a few games I definitely wouldn’t have finished without dropping the difficulty down (Hi Bayonetta’s last boss 😆 ). Most of the time Normal is fine but I would rather finish a game than stop playing out of frustration and never see the end. There is no shame in just blasting through a game on easy and enjoying it.

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YOU ARE LIKELY TO SUCK ONLINE (AT FIRST)

It is not very realistic to expect to jump online and start topping the leaderboards. Be prepared for a hard slog of dying quite a bit while you get used to the weapons and maps on offer. Even us regular gamers have a tough time when getting used to a new game. You are likely to die, a lot. This part isn’t fun but believe me after a few hours you’ll have got your bearings and the enjoyment will arrive in spades.

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75% OF ONLINE GAMERS ARE FOOLS

I’m sorry but someone had to say it. Whether it’s people disconnecting on purpose from FIFA when they are losing, using exploits to be invicible UNDER the map to kill people in Uncharted 2 or attempting to blow up their own M-COM Stations in Battlefield: Bad Company 2 you can guarantee someone unsavoury will be in your game. You will also find one or two people shouting abuse over their headsets. Don’t let them ruin your experience. Almost all games allow you to mute people’s headsets to shut them up. With the people who like to mess up the games just finish the round, leave the room and find another one. Sometimes you’ll find a game with no idiots in, which also leads me on to my next tip…

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MAKE, AND PLAY WITH, FRIENDS

                                                                                Expand your friends list by adding people you have good games with.

You’ll probably already have a few friends on your list of people that you know in the ‘real world’ but if you have a good, enjoyable game against someone don’t be afraid to ‘Add’ them as a friend. Just pop a quick message in the box saying ‘good round of Killzone 2’ or whatever so they know what they played with you and if they accept you’ll have another member of the awesome 25% of online gamers to play with.

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SWITCHING FROM HD BACK TO STANDARD

More of a technical tip than anything else but hopefully it may save someone somewhere some grief. When going back to a standard definition TV from a HD one the PS3 will not display at all because of the HD settings. To remedy this and get your PS3 back to it’s original SD settings you’ll need to have the console switched off. Press and hold the power on button (on the console itself, not on the controller) until it beeps repeatedly and you should then be greeted with the start up screen.

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USE AND ABUSE THE PLAYSTATION NETWORK

By abuse I mean grab as much of the free stuff they put up as possible. The Playstation Network has a wealth of free (and paid for) content that you can login and download. The main draw is the demos, almost every game has one nowadays and it gives you a real chance to try out some games you’re not sold on or a game in a different genre to what you usually play. I wrote about it in more detail (here) but you definitely should take advantage of this great service.

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DON’T QUIT TOO SOON

As mentioned earlier it often takes time to get used to a game and that applies as much offline as online. There are games I loved playing that I came close to quitting early on for one reason or another. My recommendation now is to give a game at least two hours of single player before you consider switching off for good. A lot of games have a tutorial section and can often start slow so it’s worth giving them a chance to see what they can really do before putting down the pad and taking the disc out.

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BACK UP YOUR SAVES AND DATA REGULARLY

You don’t *need* to do this but as someone who had a PS3 freeze up and die on him I would wholly recommend it. All you need for this is an external USB device (or something with a memeory stick, like a PSP). Connect it to you PS3, highlight your game save and press triangle, then copy. This means if you PS3 does bite the dust you can at least restart your games from a recent save. Some games, such as Red Dead Redemption and Modnation Racers, use your save game for your online profile so would also require you to start from the bottom again in multiplayer as well if you haven’t backed them up. It takes about 5 mins but is worth the hassle.

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So there you go, a few basic pointers which will hopefully be helpful to some people. If anyone else has any tips to add please feel free to leave a comment below.

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