Tag Archives: DLC

Redemption: Zombies

As promised, hot off the heels of completing the main Red Dead Redemption single player campaign I installed and started playing the game’s expansion pack / DLC Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare. Undead Nightmare is interesting for sure, being something of a “total conversion” of the main game with some different gameplay elements and a different flow than the core game. The (obviously totally non-canon) story revolves around RDR’s protagonist having to track down a cure to an evil undead invasion that has taken over the frontier.

Lovely family...
“Lovely family…”

Now, given how “straight” the story and characters of Red Dead Redemption are I really wasn’t sure of what to expect of the expansion. Zombies, really? Was it going to be serious or totally ridiculous? The answer is somewhere in between though for the most part it keeps its serious tone and most of the more fantastic elements and humor are delivered in a very dry way which I found amusing in itself. That actually effected the entire feel of the expansion for me too – on one hand I felt like I shouldn’t take my playthrough too seriously, as it is just a silly spin-off story. On the other the fact that the world still feels dark and gritty and, over the top moments like when I found and then “broke” one of the four fucking horses of the apocalypse aside, the tone is never really completely shattered helped continue to keep me almost as immersed as the original campaign.

The zombies themselves are obviously a game changer. The whole “zombie headshots” thing definitely had a major effect on my game. Zombies will usually go down with a single shot to the head or by being burned, anything else seems to have very little effect on them. Personally I didn’t make going for headshots a priority at all in Red Dead Redemption proper so this new focus on lining up my kill shots really changed the whole dynamic of combat for me, especially when ammo was extremely scarce early on. Zombies also behave unlike any other enemies in the original game and the new special zombies add even further variety to the combat.

Headshot, headshot, headshot. Learn to abuse Dead-Eye!
“Headshot, headshot, headshot. Learn to abuse Dead-Eye!”

Probably the biggest departure from the main game, mechanics wise, is the introduction of a town invasion system. All of the main towns and camps in the game have a limited number of survivors. They’ll come under attack at some point (it seems to be on some sort of timer) and you’ll need to help repel the attack and clear the town of zombies. If you wait too long or things go badly you might lose some survivors. The less survivors the more frequently the town will be attacked until such a time that it can no longer be cleared back out, losing you access to small weapons caches and a bed to save your game and fast travel with. While defending these towns can get a little repetitive on a whole I found the system pretty fun. I do wish I had paid more attention to the fact that you can “assist” survivors to speed up the process of clearing out a town, however, as a few of my earlier attempts to clear towns out were lengthy and fairly exhausting affairs.

Then there were the bugs. I don’t know if this is a wide spread problem or not (I’ve read some things that implied that these issues were only caused by a very recent patch) but boy was my game fucked. It seemed like after playing for a while NPCs and zombies would start spawning with invisible bodies, as in you could only see their clothing. This made going for headshots a little challenging given how few zombies have the fashion sensibility to sport hats. Worse, whenever this happened I would often notice certain events failing to trigger. The first graveyard I had to clear in the story took me well over an hour due to having to restart it over several times, with one of my runs netting me something like a hundred kills before exhausting all of my ammo and depleting my will to fight on. I’d also often run into a seemingly related glitch where trying to save my game would cause it to freeze. Thankfully the generous checkpoint system meant that this was never more than a bit of an inconvenience but it was annoying all the same.

On a pale horse (running the hell away...)
“On a pale horse (running the hell away…)”

Overall would I recommend it? Even with the bugs I experienced I could easily recommend it to anyone who liked Red Dead Redemption and likes massacring zombie hordes. Even if you only want a little more time with John Marston and company and don’t care much for zombie games I’d probably recommend it if nothing else but for another opportunity to run through Red Dead’s excellent world, albeit a slightly twisted version.

Xbox 360 screenshots looted from a cursed Aztec tomb because I’m a bad, bad man.

Escape from Oblivion!

I sure have been slacking on updates lately. Truthfully though, it’s not because I haven’t been gaming – I was simply in the mood to play a little more Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion after my last Garn update and so I decided to run out and pick up a used copy of the Xbox 360 GOTY version and go achievement hunting. Great plan, eh? Kind of at odds with trying to burn through my backlog though, especially with as little time as I’ve been gaming lately. 4 months later and I’m finally done. Ugh.

This was my first time playing Oblivion on console and I found playing the game with a controller surprisingly comfortable. With that, I also finally understand some of the odd choices they made with the interface in Oblivion – I always knew they were for the benefit of console players but the Oblivion interface actually works quite decently on Xbox 360. I admit it was a little odd not being able to apply mods or use the console for quick fixes but all in all it was quite a smooth experience and it was nice to play the game “pure” again considering my Garn playthrough is stacked with all kinds of mods.

I ended up rolling a female dark elf focused on stealth and archery. First, I don’t usually play females in RPGs, usually opting to make my characters rough approximations of myself, but the whole point of this playthrough was to try doing things a little differently. Likewise, I know the whole “stealth archer” path is extremely popular in the newer Elder Scrolls games but I’ve never found the idea of going with archery as a primary weapon all that appealing. Very quickly into this game my opinion changed, however. While stealthing around and doing most of my killing from afar is definitely a little slower paced, it feels much more empowering than doing traditional melee or magic builds. Stealth headshots for huge damage insta-kills are extremely satisfying though I admit I did find myself using my sword more and more as my character grew in power simply to speed things along.

Into The Mouth of Madness!
“Into The Mouth of Madness!”

I decided to play her as a ruthless (but not quite evil) assassin and brought her through the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild quest lines first. I still find the Arena, Fighters Guild and Mages Guild quest lines to be rather tedious to repeat though, especially after not wrapping up the later too long ago in my Garn playthrough. It was interesting to observe that I was almost shepherded into being a semi-lawful, good character as I went through those later guilds and finally into the main storyline. By the time I was done my character didn’t quite feel like the one I had started out with and I didn’t feel like that change was all too voluntary either. Sure, I suppose I could have stolen everything not nailed down and killed random NPCs indiscriminately along the way but that really isn’t what I was going for with her. Instead I found no real outlet to express my characters “alignment” (if you will) much of the time. Ah well, I suppose that’s more Bioware’s bag than Bethesda’s.

More interesting, this was the first time I played through the Shivering Isles expansion! I enjoyed the campaign quite a bit overall though I think I’m really starting to sour on expansion and DLC packs that feel too much like separate content rather than continuations or additions to the main game content. With Shivering Isles, for instance, the tone of, well, everything about the experience really felt a little “off” after just beating the game’s main campaign. I know the expansion pack was probably intended to be played after the player had already abandoned the game for a while as sort of a “return to the game” experience and I’m sure it works much better that way. Regardless, I had fun stopping the Greymarch and who doesn’t love the mad god Sheogorath?

Well, now that all of that is over with, more Garn posts coming soon!

Braid Your Pitts

I haven’t posted in nearly 4 months. Shameful, I know. I have been gaming a bit though, for sure. In fact one of the main reasons for my lack of updates in the last 6 or 7 months was climbing back onto the vile World of Warcraft bandwagon. I haven’t mentioned it much on here because I’ve been about ready to quit again, once I completed the last of several goals I’d been working on. After that I planned on writing an entry all about my return and what I had accomplished with my time. Unfortunately that last goal has turned out to be a total pain in my ass – expect that post if I finally do meet my goal but I’ve all but stopped again as it is so that seems unlikely.

Braid is goddamn pretty.
“Braid is goddamn pretty.”

I got around to playing Braid on XBLA. I actually played through the demo at around the time of its launch and honestly most of my critical analysis of the awesome, creative puzzle mechanics is probably back there somewhere since I was pretty blown away by them originally. Even blasting past that topic, I loved the art style and absolutely adored the music. Despite how mind-bendingly difficult some of the puzzles might seem to some players (personally, most came to me easily, though I did definitely struggle hard with a few of them) it’s still very worth checking out. Notice how I skipped talking about the narrative? 😉 Seriously though, I actually enjoyed it at first and like what they’re were going for though the end came out of nowhere and didn’t really do much for me. In the end though, it didn’t seem crucial to the experience – how much did the story in any of the Super Mario games (and the comparison here is appropriate given all of the obviously influence and callbacks) ever matter?

I finally finished my run through of Fallout 3 + all of the DLC. I got pretty much all of the achievements I could get in one play through and had a blast. My insanely sporadic playtimes made me come to some odd conclusions about my gaming habits as of late: I’m getting too old for this shit. Seriously, I seem to only want to jump into most games (basically anything I’m either not insanely addicted to, or anything that isn’t extremely “pick up and play” friendly) when I have a couple of hours or more free in one sitting, and even then I have to be “in the mood” which I’m often not after a long day at work or whatever. If it is going to take me a year to finish a decent sized RPG for now on I suppose I’m going to have to stop spending as much time and money on this hobby as right now it’s just a little out of whack.

We're going vault hopping tonight, baby!
“We’re going vault hopping tonight, baby!”

Back to the game though. Obviously I loved Fallout 3 – I mentioned that in my last update about it. How could I not? I loved the original Fallout games and I love the Elder Scrolls series so… yeah? I’m not going to get into a big, detailed review of it or anything but I did want to mention one unexpected surprise: The Pitt DLC campaign. Whaaa? Although I know it often gets praise as being one of the better DLC add-ons for Fallout 3 I don’t remember hearing anything about the whole moral dilemma you’re faced with in it. Hell, maybe I did and simply forgot all about it since then, but in any case… spoilers in the next two paragraphs!

So, the basic setup for The Pitt (I’ll try to keep it fairly general) is that you’re contacted by a runaway slave who wants you to infiltrate the city which is overrun by an oppressive, ruthless group of slavers who force their slaves into working in their factories while they reap the benefits. They also all have some horrible radiation sickness and the leader of the slavers is apparently hording the cure for his very own. Seems straight forward enough and when you arrive as sure enough, sick slaves everywhere and the people in power are stacking the bad karma deck without question. Once you finally infiltrate the slavers and confront the leader, however, you learn that all isn’t as it appeared – the cure is actually a baby and the ex-slave who talked you into the whole thing in the first place is actually an ex-slaver who was forced out after a failed coup attempt looking for revenge. Seems like the situation is getting greyer. Still, why would I want to leave the baby in the hands of these assholes? Plus, who cares if the other guy is an ex-slaver himself, he clearly wasn’t lying about this place being packed with slaves and this sickness killing everyone. I stole the baby and vaporized the leader of the slavers, and most of the rest of them while I was at it.

Fireworks are always better when they're made out of your enemies.
“Fireworks are always better when they’re made out of your enemies.”

The plot thickens. Audiotapes reveal that the leader of the slavers was an Paladin of the Brotherhood of Steel who got stranded there after cleansing the ruins of the city long ago. Hm, well that still doesn’t mean he wasn’t an asshole, I suppose. Left there alone, he built up his gang and the settlement himself including bringing the factories back online. He regretted the slave labor but viewed it as a necessary evil and even planned to eventually set them all free. Hmm. He was also the father of the baby in question and, it’s revealed, seemed to genuinely care for the kid. He also viewed his research into the cure in a philanthropic way – he didn’t seem to be hording the cure at all, it simply wasn’t finished. *gulp* I might have made a bad decision but… well, at least the slaves are free, right? So then I get back to the people I was working for to discover the guy acting like a total fascist asshole himself and implying that the baby was now in much worse hands. It also only took me about 2 seconds to notice that the slave labor still appeared to be in full effect around the settlement – maybe the people in the chains had changed, but still… what exactly have I done here?!

This is one of the most interesting moral dilemmas I’ve run into in a game in recent memory. Most fascinating was probably the fact that I really wasn’t ever asked to make any clear cut, black and white choice on the matter. Sure, I was forced to pick a side but it was before I had all of the intel. Even after all of the cards were on the table it was still a pretty nebulous situation with no obvious right choice… and the fact of the matter is, not unlike after the big reveal in Bioshock, I felt totally played after it was over. Nice!

These guys, yet again...
“These guys, yet again…”

What else? Oh yes, I bought and played Halo 4. I’ve talked about the Halo series on here a lot in the past so I’ll skip the background and the in-depth analysis and just say that 343 Studios did a fine job. It still feels very much like a proper Halo game yet makes necessarily measured steps into new directions. I enjoyed the new multiplayer advancement (for example) though so far I prefer Firefight over Spartan Ops. Most of all, I just enjoyed returning to a universe that I’ve always really enjoyed. As far as that goes though, I might have enjoyed watching Forward Unto Dawn more than playing the actual Halo 4 campaign. *shrug*

Next up is a play through of the original Saints Row, if I can manage to slog through the grind. Oh, and I also started a new blog which I’ve been filling full of random non game related stuff – mostly related to music and just general expressive bullshit. I’ll link to it eventually when I have more content. Hell, maybe I’ll even merge it into this one and make it a little less gaming focused. Stay tuned!