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Red Dead Redemption: Liars and Cheats
Score: 98%
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar San Diego
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 16 (Online)
Genre: Action/Free-Roaming/Online


Introduction:

Rockstar San Diego is now two for two. With the release of Red Dead Redemption: Liars and Cheats, the year's biggest open-world game just got a hell of a lot bigger. If you thought Legends and Killers was a strong package, prepare to be floored. Liars and Cheats is a massive expansion of Red Dead Redemption's multiplayer suite. It's a heaping helping of cooperative and competitive content; all of it cream of the crop. If that statement alone is enough to pique your interest, stop reading this and start up the download.

Namesake:

Snappy titles seem to be the status quo for Rockstar DLC; between both of Grand Theft Auto IV's expansions and last month's Legends and Killers pack, they know how to keep it simple and sweet, while preserving the essence of the offered content. Just from the name of this DLC pack alone, most Red Dead veterans should be able to gather that this mode offers some gambling action. If you played Texas Hold 'Em or Liar's Dice as Red Dead Redemption hero John Marston, you probably guessed (correctly) that both games would be great fun to take online. Nothing is lost in the transition, even though it kind of feels like Rockstar was planning this addition well before the game's release. It's gratifying to call bluffs and spot-on bids; even more so when your successes earn you difficult Achievements.

This pack is far more than gambling, however. With Liars and Cheats, Rockstar adds a number of challenging new gang hideouts, as well as two new competitive modes. Grand Prix is an almost straightforward horse race. Remember the Nigel West Dickens missions that forced you to abide by the rules (and the law)? Grand Prix throws all of that to the wind; each racer gets a limited supply of ammo; just enough to take at least one guy out. The other mode, Stronghold, is a competitive mode that bears a resemblance to Call of Duty's Search and Destroy or Battlefield Bad Company 2's Rush. One team attacks certain objectives, the other team defends. The attacking team is always slightly better-armed than the defending team, which keeps games exciting and intense.


The Finger of God:

Well, Legends and Killers had the tomahawk. Red Dead Redemption: Liars and Cheats has the explosive rifle. This uncompromisingly powerful gun is easily among the most brutal weapons I've ever seen since Gears of War's Boomshot. A single shot from this gun is enough to blow any living thing into a cloud of fine red mist. It doesn't matter where you hit them; a successful shot will result in a mess of rapidly-dissolving viscera. If Rockstar simply gave this weapon to everyone who bought the Liars and Cheats pack, it would completely destroy Free Roam as we know it. Instead, the development team opted to install a number of contingencies to prevent excessive griefing.

First off, you must earn the explosive rifle by earning the highest score in a Gang Hideout. Second, upon acquisition of the explosive rifle, you are given five shots -- no more. Lastly, if you die, you lose it. These failsafes give death a punishing edge and make the weapon seem like a big tease, but without them, Free Roam would be utterly broken.


This Dog Hunts:

Some gamers will cry foul over Rockstar's decision to charge 800 Microsoft Points ($10) for content that they believe should have shipped with the original game. I'm with Rockstar on this one. Not because they were kind enough to send us a code, but because the original release was already a case of quality content overkill. I'll close with a silly but effective metaphor: Red Dead Redemption is the decadent cake. Legends and Killers is the icing and whipped cream. Red Dead Redemption: Liars and Cheats is the brandied cherry on top, and it's got a hell of a kick.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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