Red Dead Redemption Legends & Killers Hands-On Preview - Bringing Back The Old Skool
Written Thursday, August 05, 2010 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Expanding Red Dead's multiplayer with eight characters from Red Dead Revolver, nine new territories for competitive modes and a new weapon in the Tomahawk, Legends & Killers gives you plenty of new stuff to discover. Possibly the finest addition to the game's arsenal of bolt action rifles and six shooters, is the Tomahawk, which proves to be enormous fun on certain maps and match types, such as a Shootout Match on the new Rio Bravo map. The Tomahawk is indispensable for dealing out a quick and silent death while sneaking between the narrow gaps in the dusty mountainside, hiding behind the rocky outcrops with the throwing weapon at the ready.
Sat in a room filled with UK press and a handful of journos from Spain, we heard nothing but laughter for the entire match as Tomahawks were liberally thrown into heads, limbs and spines with a satisfying thud, as you can execute an opponent with a single strike in the right place. However, in a match where anyone can use guns, the Tomahawk is useless at range, unless you can get some height on your throw, judge the trajectory and bag a Hail Mary kill and a trophy if you manage to bag a kill from 35 metres or more. Here's hoping that Rockstar take our feedback and add a 'Tomahawks only' mode.
The Rio Bravo map, which lies between Fort Mercer and Tumbleweed, is perfectly designed for a Tomahawk face-off, with its tight winding nooks and deliberate lack of weapon pick-ups making each game a frantic skirmish. Moving onto the Fort Mercer map, and the Tomahawks are out, but the old Repeater Carbines and revolvers are in, as the walls of the stronghold make a game of Gold Rush – grabbing as many gold bags as you can and returning them to the closest drop point – a close-quarters affair, meaning that the sawn-off shotgun comes into its own. Yet, given the vantage points among the battlements, you'll need to be able to juggle long and short-range weapons quickly, which can occasionally be a bit difficult with the game's radial menu. Still, it's a test of how fast and steady that trigger finger of yours is, so it's fitting really.
From struggling in a free-for-all grab for gold bags, to a team game of Grab the Bag in Thieves Landing, the pace is every bit as frenetic as each team battles for ownership of a bag of gold that spawns in areas equidistant from each base. The aim is to pick up the hotly contested bag of gold and run it back to your team's drop off as fast as possible and outscore the opposing team. That's easier said than done of course, and the match descends into an all out war for control of a flimsy rope bridge, flanked by a Gatling gun emplacement in the centre of the map. Jumping behind the Gatling seems like a good strategy, but you instantly paint a target on your stupid face in doing so. Also, Red Dead Redemption's movement can sometimes make you overshoot the precarious, narrow planks, sending you barrelling into the swamp like an idiot. And as you well know, contact with water in Red Dead is fatal.
Next up is a Gang Shootout in Mexico's Escalera, which you will remember as the home of the corrupt Mexican military. Here, you're again locked in an intense fight, but this time you and your team need to take the high ground up in the villa and the surrounding towers. From here, the opposing team has little chance of removing you from the advantageous position, so clever thinking and careful strategy is required. Having lost the high ground quickly at the beginning of the match, we managed to sneak around through the main entrance to the villa, where we flanked the towers in front of its open veranda and dug out our rivals with a few blasts from the pump action shotgun. As we assaulted the interiors, the rest of the team dealt with the other houses and provided covering rifle fire from the outside. High ground duly gained, we fought valiantly, but lost by a measly two kills. Tough luck, cowboy.
We finished our Legends & Killers hands-on with Hold Your Own matches in the snowy mountain climes of Tall Trees and the labyrinthine alleyways and streets of Blackwater. This is essentially capture the flag, but with those ubiquitous gold bags stationed at each team's base instead of out in the middle of the map like Grab the Bag. We quickly find that in Tall Trees, you need a horse to cover the vast snowy area, and with only trees and the occasional rock for cover, you're incredibly vulnerable to a bolt-action bullet to the head. Both bases in Tall Trees are entrenched in a rocky bay, so the ideal tactic is to move in with a pincer movement from all sides to pick off the defenders and make a rush for the loot.
The same is true in Blackwater, except here you have the backstreets for cover and the buildings for perfect sniping spots. There's always an ideal strategy, and here we act as sniper on a rooftop overlooking the opposing team's base. As our team makes a bid for the bag, we pick off any defenders and leave the way clear for a quick escape back to our base for an easy point. Incidentally, you also get the Tomahawk in the Tall Trees level, but there's rarely cause to use it as you leave yourself wide open to attack. It's best left to the much more focused Rio Bravo map.
Red Dead Redemption's Legends & Killers DLC almost doubles the number of competitive maps available, which is a nice addition in its own right. Factor in the Tomahawk – which we have to stress, really is a lot of fun in the right situation – and the eight returning characters from Red Dead Revolver – including Red Harlow, Jack Swift, Shadow Wolf and Pig Josh - and the first paid-DLC should prove a treat for fans and multiplayer aficionados alike.
Red Dead Redemption Legends & Killers Pack will be available from August 10th, 2010 and will cost £7.99.