Version tested: Xbox 360
Nine new maps make up the meat of this multiplayer sandwich, the second batch of DLC for Rockstar's Western elegy, the first to demand payment. Ranging from open rural expanses to cover-heavy towns, all are extracted from the existing terrain, but some have had more of a makeover than others. Since these locations were created for atmosphere and single-player adventuring, they don't always lend themselves well to a nuanced multiplayer experience.
In the interests of completion, and because the game does a poor job of describing what you've bought (offering the new material only as a randomly chosen playlist from a dedicated menu option), the full combination of maps and modes is as follows...
The remote wilderness maps are Tall Trees (Hold Your Own), Manzanita Post (Grab the Bag, Hold Your Own), Punto Orgullo (Hold Your Own), Hennigan's Stead (Grab the Bag, Hold Your Own) and Rio Bravo (Gang Shootout, Gold Rush, Grab The Bag, Shootout).
For those who like the more comforting order of man-made structures there's Thieves' Landing (All Modes), Fort Mercer (Gang Shootout, Gold Rush, Grab The Bag, Shootout), Blackwater (All Modes)and Escalera (Gang Shootout, Shootout).
Three existing maps have also quietly had new modes added, with Diez Coronas gaining Grab the Bag. Pacific Union Railroad Camp gets to host both Shootout types while Tumbleweed now offers Gold Rush and Hold Your Own.
It's a large but curious collection with some combinations obviously more successful than others. Fort Mercer works well, since the location was clearly designed for repeated gang hideout missions, and the layout inevitably translates well to competitive play.
Punto Orgullo, on the other hand, works against the player in frustrating fashion, the maze-like tangle of deep rock gullies serving only to dilute team play for all but the most coordinated gangs. Blackwater's rather generic criss-cross streets and obvious rooftop sniper points wouldn't cut the mustard in any other multiplayer game, but since the location saw only limited action in the single player story there's still novelty value in wreaking havoc in this neat and tidy symbol of the Wild West's gentrified demise.
It's the unlikely choices that prove the most fun. In the solo game, Manzanita Post is a tiny collection of uninspiring buildings in the middle of a forest. Stretched out for multiplayer, the area is filled with log-built cover spots, watchtowers and gatling gun posts. A long, wide playing area liberates players from mindless choke points, the large central channel flanked by dense tree cover to one side and elevated positions to the other.
Being restricted to Grab the Bag and Hold Your Own matches enables its design to be specialised even further, providing dozens of routes for stealthy thieves to slip into enemy territory. The focus pays off, and it's one of the few maps where it feels like you're playing something designed for a specific multiplayer experience rather than just romping about in a familiar playground.
Other rural maps, such as Rio Bravo, are less successful. Small and contained, the map centres on the central spire of rock, run through with narrow passages and random cover points. Matches here soon fall in line with the chaotic terrain, encouraging play that is more about dashing around, getting kills where you can, rather than any tactical play. That's fine for Shootouts, but it makes it a curious choice for Gold Rush and Grab the Bag, where more co-ordination is needed.
Rio Bravo is also one of the few multiplayer maps where the new tomahawk weapon is equipped as standard. From an aesthetic point of view, it's a fun addition, ticking off another iconic Western image as axes thunk into fleeing backs. It's not massively different to the throwing knife, but it does double as a lethal melee weapon and has decent range.
It's also incredibly unbalanced and inconsistent, a reminder that Rockstar is still learning as far as multiplayer is concerned. Most of the time a tomahawk attack results in an instant kill, regardless of where you're hit, making it one of the best mid-range weapons in the game. It was amusing to watch Rio Bravo matches change over the afternoon when the Legends and Killers pack went live, guns rapidly dropping out of use as players realised just how effective the new weapon could be.
However, when you can unload two blasts from a shotgun into someone's chest but be killed instantly by a tomahawk in the leg, something's gone a bit screwy. It's a weapon that really needed more tweaking, or at least its own dedicated map and game mode, to make sense.
The tomahawk is also available in single player, offering up a new set of challenges and an Achievement or Trophy for completing all five ranks. It's nothing terribly taxing – certainly nothing to compare to the exacting nature of the higher level Sharpshooter or Master Hunter tasks – but it's probably enough to tempt lapsed players back into the game for an enjoyable afternoon of axe-lobbing distractions.
All of which leaves only the new character skins to round out the package. Drawn from Red Dead Revolver and unlocked automatically for all players, they offer a nice acknowledgement of the flawed potential that Rockstar built upon, but they don't make any difference to the game. At best, they add some more colourful characters to the roster, and judging by the number of identical faces now jigging and brawling in the live lobbies the ability to play as dapper gunslinger Mr Kelley or hulking bomb-freak Pig Josh clearly appeals more than grinding through more ranks to unlock another random Mexican or Miner.
So, is this lucky dip worth the download? Sadly, probably not. It certainly doesn't help that competitive multiplayer is not the most compelling part of Red Dead Redemption's online offering. Even though it's viewed in third person, and involves a lot of shooting, you could never truly describe the game as a third-person shooter and the game still suffers from occasionally clumsy control that works best against the more forgiving aim of AI opponents.
Fumbling about for cover, jiggling about in a door frame - these are the sort of things that get you killed in a multiplayer game, and Redemption still falls prey to them too often for comfort. It's still more fun, and more efficient, to move up the ranks through co-op missions and tackling the gang hideouts with friends.
A peculiar pick-and-mix selection of multiplayer bits, all of which are fine in their own right, Legends and Killers simply doesn't offer enough coherent gameplay benefit to warrant its 800MSP price point for Xbox players. PS3 owners can rightly bristle at the even steeper £7.99 they're being charged. An expensive indulgence, Legends and Killers undoubtedly improves the multiplayer in terms of variety, but that's just not enough to make it essential.
6 / 10