I can’t say exactly when it hit me, but somewhere around the third round of multiplayer liar's dice, I looked around at the other players, and for a good 10 seconds, I actually felt like I was in that saloon in Thieve’s Landing circa 1911. I’ve played a ton of liar’s dice in the single-player portion of Red Dead Redemption, but it wasn’t until this moment, sitting around the table with other human players that my mind made the mental leap required to fully commit itself to believing I wasn’t just playing the game, but was “actually” living inside it. Sounds crazy, I know, but I had to share it with you, because it was one of the most memorable moments in my gaming life, and those don’t come along often.
The point of this anecdote is that if you thought liar’s dice was fun against the computer AI, you are in for some long nights ahead should you pick up Liars and Cheats, the penultimate downloadable content pack for Rockstar Games' brilliant western shooter. Don’t get me wrong. All of the new content that Rockstar has crammed into this $10 pack is not to be missed, and if you love Redemption you’ll definitely want to pick it up, for reasons I’m about to share with you. But there was a moment when I was playing liar’s dice that not only sold me on the DLC, but reaffirmed the sheer brilliance of Redemption itself.
As for the rest of the pack, there’s a sizable amount of great additions to keep free roamers, hunters, and competitive multiplayers busy for some time. The entirely multiplayer-focused DLC (which includes the Free Roam pack that Rockstar had previously planned to release separately) introduces seven new gang hideouts, four new hunting grounds, the new multiplayer mode Stronghold, the utterly devastating explosive rifle, new characters (Edgar Ross is a personal favorite) and titles, horse races, poker, and, of course, liar’s dice. Like I said, it’s an impressive selection of new content, and it turns a previously enjoyable but somewhat limited (in terms of available activities) experience into a far richer and satisfying one.
Stronghold, the new multiplayer mode, is an absolute blast, as each team takes turns trying to capture a series of locations the fastest. Because of the domino-effect nature of the scenario, the intensity steadily rises over the course of the match, as each position is fought over and captured (or not captured as the case may be). Other games have featured similar variations of the mode, and it works wonderfully here as well.
The horse races are surprisingly tense, thanks mainly to the fact that everyone has a couple shotgun shells, a few pistol bullets, and a (useless) knife that go live 10 seconds into the race. Problem is, it takes a lot to knock people off their mounts, and it’s hard to aim (auto-aim is disabled) while maintaining your speed and direction, so it creates this great balancing act between pure racing and violent maneuvering. I was actually pleasantly surprised how civil most of the races I participate in were. I suspect this was mainly due to the restrictions of the actual gameplay, but it made for some fun races.
The new gang hideouts are particularly fierce, but when you clear them, the explosive rifle will spawn as a reward. And what a reward it is. Holy f***. This gun is an absolute beast. And since the game doesn’t include dismemberment, it’s especially shocking when you hit someone with it, because it turns people into red dust clouds, while chunks of flaming meat cascade through the sky. It’s rather glorious.
Having the new hunting grounds marked on your map, instead of just being scattered around the world without any indication as to where they are, is a welcomed addition. Just be sure to take up a nice high position before starting one of these hunts, because once the animals start coming for you, you’ll want to have as wide a view as possible of your surroundings. Cougars. Damn, damn cougars.
As you can probably tell, Liars and Cheats is a must own for any Red Dead Redemption fan, especially for those who have avoided multiplayer up until this point because they felt it lacked variety. I don’t even want to think about how much time I’m going to spend playing liar’s dice going forward, but boy, am I looking forward to every minute of it. If you absolutely can't stand multiplayer, then the upcoming , story-based Undead Pack (complete with prairie-wandering zombies) should scratch your itch when it's released sometime in the next few weeks.