Red Dead Redemption review
Cowboys are cool again!
Video games have indulged in just about every setting one could think of, but it isn’t common for a story to unfold in the Wild West of America where tumbleweeds plague the streets and bullets seem to be more common than oxygen. Red Dead Redemption takes everything that you would expect to see in the Wild West and somehow manages to throw it all into a masterpiece. Unless you can conjure up a time machine and head back into the early 1900s, you’re stuck with this. But don’t worry, RDR certainly does deliver. Yeeeehaaaaawww!
As you would expect with any western film, our anti-hero John Marston has had a rough past. Raised by a gang of outlaws, he knew no different than the life he grew up with; robbing banks, paying (or running) from whores, raiding mansions, looting dead bodies and shooting anyone who got in his way. As time went on he began to put his rough past behind him and settle down with his woman, where they would hopefully have a quiet life with their child. Of course life isn’t that easy, especially when the authorities seem to have their own set of rules. The game begins after John’s family are taken from him by these authorities. If he wants the back alive, he has to track down his former gang member, Bill, and end his life. Sound easy? Well it isn’t. Bill just so happens to be the most powerful gang leader in the area and resides in a heavily defended fort. You can hardly just waltz in there and add a side of gunpowder to his brain, nor can you call up Mr. President and order an airstrike. While not the most complex of stories, it is quite moving at times, particularly towards the end, and will easily keep the player interested until the credits role. While the narrative is fairly straightforward, it is more than good enough to keep you playing until the end with some plot points excellently crafted, particularly the ending which I’m obviously not going into. The one flaw however is that, unlike most other modern sandbox RPGs, there is only one way to do things. For example; if your task is to recover an item from a gangs head quarters, the only way to do it is to kill every one of them. Unfortunately the player isn’t presented with multiple dialogue options but I guess that’s the price that we pay to have a well developed main character and decent story.
John Marston (below) embodies every likable attribute of a typical anti-hero. The basic development of Marston has been explained above and I’ll be surprised if there are more than a handful of players out there that won’t enjoy playing through the game with this bad ass cowboy, particularly when at times all you want to do is inflict as much whoop-ass on the bad guys as possible (especially the corrupt law enforcers who at times made me want to steal a mini-nuke and Matrix myself into the Wild West to blow their asses off). Aside from the dominant good and evil characters weaved into the story, there plenty of other minor characters that are...... memorable. Take Seth of example. He has had one screwed up past and it shows. You first meet him while he’s digging up the graves of the dead in search for something special to him. Then there’s Irish, the (also) crazy drunk whose short term memory seems to have been destroyed by his never ending flask of whiskey. These characters are filled with personality and they’re all likely to put a smile on your face... or want to put a bullet in their head.
The world of RDR is split into three sections each opening up at a certain points of the game. These areas are separated by water, which acts as a road block because apparently swimming lessons weren’t around back then. As you would expect with any sandbox RPG, the world is expansive and it will require a lot of exploring to locate all the towns, ranches, gang hideouts, etc. Fortunately, travelling is close to perfection, as you can fast travel to any location on the map (given you’ve unlocked access to the area) regardless of having been there or not. The world is nothing short of beautiful, and will continue presenting refreshing environments until the end. Below is a map of all three areas in the game.
You’re in the Wild West, so naturally you’ll want to shoot things. The developers have implemented a clean and user friendly shooting system that does away with any turn based or stop-start elements present in many other hybrid games. This system is a bit too newbie friendly for my liking as the auto lock-on makes just about every shootout a breeze, regardless of which weapon you’re using, especially when Dead Eye (bullet time ability) is thrown into the mix. At least shooting while on horseback is a bit more of a challenge as you have to concentrate on steering the horse while firing at your enemy.
RDR really went all out when it comes to mini-games, and they’re all relevant to the setting. Each town will present you with a variety of games to play, including blackjack, poker, horseshoe, five finger fillet, arm wrestling, and the list goes on. You are not required to play these games but they break up the story nicely and can win you some money for more powerful firearms or equipment.
Like any good RPG, RDR has a load of side quests to work through. As you progress through the story, you will meet many NPCs who will present Marston with their problems. Most of these optional side quests are actually quite involving and some will span through most of the game. If helping people will cramp your bad-ass style then maybe undertaking the personal challenges will be more suiting. These range from flower picking to hunting wild animals and while many of the rewards aren’t particularly useful, it can become quite addictive. Perhaps the most enjoyable and rewarding optional task is collecting materials for new outfits. Not only do some of these look really cool, but they grant Marston special abilities, such as enabling him to cheat in poker, or doubling the Dead Eye time. All of these optional activities will present the player with many additional hours of fun and provide the challenge that the battle system may lack.
Red Dead Redemption is outstandingly presented and stands strong in just about every aspect. It’s not often that you come across a western gaming title that will appeal to mainstream audiences while accurately capturing just about every element of the Wild West. This is one of those games that will be remembered for years to come and you can certainly expect many sequels in the future, so my advice is to play it as soon as possible, cowboy.
About the author
- [Spoilers] who did you most enjoy killing? 12
- Multiplayer meet-up: Gamertag/PSN ID Index & Clans list 108
- Possible alternate method of finding death in Undead Nightmare? 1
- Looking for an RDR website 0
- Cougar Killing with Knife 42
- i got the unicorn 0
- Finally (spoiler) 3
- rdr online leveling up 0
- RDR: Tips, Try This, and Bugs 34
- Ultimate RDR Mods (Works Online!) 0
- Config to change horse control is broken? 1
- Myths? 16